Motherhood and Writing: How These Women Made It Work

Updated: Aug 28

Let's face it, becoming a mother alters a woman's life in ways she least expects. This change can spur her on to greater things or slow down the pursuit of her lifelong dreams. Ultimately, this choice is up to each individual mom and is based largely on her support system, situation, and a whole list of other factors. But whatever your situation is, these 4 successful authors are positive examples of what it means to be a mother who writes and who does so successfully. They are reminders of what women can achieve when they set their minds to it.


Mbolo Mbue: Mbolo Mbue wrote her NYTimes bestselling novel, Behold the Dreamers while nursing two children. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, she recounts writing her manuscript with one hand while nursing her babies with the other hand. According to Imbolo, she started the book when her first child was a baby and rewrote it while nursing her second. “I perfected the art of holding them with one hand and writing with the other. People afterward said, ‘How wonderful for you!’ And I said, ‘Oh, no it wasn’t. Really, you don’t understand!’” In that same interview, Mbue described writing and motherhood this way, “I’ve done some tough jobs, but writing and raising children are the hardest things I’ve ever done.”


Toni Morrison: Toni Morrison was the mother of two young sons when she began writing her popular book, The Bluest Eye. Her writing process included waking up at 4 a.m. each morning to write.


Maya Angelou: The famous writer and poet, Maya Angelou, became a teenage mother at 16, meaning most of her works during motherhood and as a single mother at that. Although her son was 24 years old when she wrote her famous autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she still wrote many poems before then.


Buchi Emecheta: Buchi Emecheta wrote most of her books during motherhood. As a matter of fact, she was the mother of 4 children when she attempted to write her first book and was mother of 5 when she wrote most of her bestsellers. In her book, Second-Class Citizen, Buchi recalls how her first manuscript was burned by her abusive husband whom she divorced while pregnant with their fifth child. In her 1984 autobiography, Head Above Water, she calls her life as an award-winning writer, an academic scholar, and a mother, a miracle. She writes: "As for my survival for the past twenty years in England, from when I was a little over twenty, dragging four cold and dripping babies with me and pregnant with a fifth one—that is a miracle."


A "miracle" is such an accurate description of what it means to be a mother who writes. Hopefully, knowing there are famous writers who made the sacrifices required to complete and publish a book will encourage you to keep going and never quit. Feel free to add to the list, who are some authors you know of who produced brilliant work while raising little ones?


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