Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Author Chynna Laird: Balancing Life As A Writing Mama

It’s my pleasure to welcome award-winning author
Chynna Laird as she makes a stop on her WOW Virtual Blog Tour for her latest release, a memoir about growing up with an alcoholic/bipolar mother.

WHITE ELEPHANTS is tastefully written and upbeat in the sense that Chynna not only survived, she is thriving - proof that our past does not define us. Thanks to Chynna and the good folks at WOW, I have a copy of this inspiring memoir to giveaway to a lucky visitor who comments on today’s post by 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, May 9. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment if it’s not in your profile.

Here’s a brief synopsis of WHITE ELEPHANTS:
Elephant in the middle of the living room--that is one way of explaining how a family walks around the invisible presence of huge problems. Hindsight is what brings the elephant into focus. 
Somehow at the innocent age of five Tami began to see the bulky creature crowding her family and took on a sense of responsibility far beyond expectation for her age. Her mother was different than other mothers. Family life in their household was not pretty. No one seemed to notice. No one did anything about it, and Tami wanted someone to do just that. As an adult Tami took on her first name, Chynna, and took up the challenge to find out what might have helped her mother fight her battle of self-destruction. She couldn't help her mother, but she would consider it worth everything if her family's story helped another. 
This candid memoir is a story of one girl's struggle to deal with her mother's alcoholic/bipolar condition--the white elephant no one else would see. With a conversational tone, Laird shares her remarkable story of abuse, survival, and her triumphant recovery into becoming a healthy, well adjusted wife and mother. Tastefully written, this book will touch your heart. It offers hope that, no matter where you come from, life is what you make it. 
Chynna joins us today to talk about ‘All in a day’s work: balancing life as a writing mama.’

One question I’m asked a lot is, “How do you find the time to write books with all that you have going on?” I guess I’ve never thought about it. Writing is something I have done for as long as I remember so no matter what else is going on, I’ve just found the time somehow. But I know that can be tough for other writing moms out there.

White Elephants coverIt may sound cheesy but it truly is about balance. I am a person who needs organization and structure. I grew up in a very chaotic environment and for the longest time I didn’t know how to function any other way. Over time, I realized the importance of reducing or eliminating that chaos because what I was doing back then wasn’t ‘living’. It was more like coasting and you can only do that for so long before you crash and burn.

I’ve written a couple of times about how and where to fit in that precious writing time. Those of us who are writing moms seem to have less of that needed sit down time to get some words pounded out but it’s there. You just have to grab it when it finds you.

The first thing you have to do is make the choice to make writing a ‘Have To Do’. As with many of you out there, I have different kinds of ‘To Do’ lists. I have a ‘Have To Do’, a ‘Should Be Doing’ and a ‘Want To Do’. Writing for many of us goes in the third one because we have so much going on in the first two. But writing is more than just a hobby for me. It’s something I channel much of my energy and emotions through. It calms me down, helps me focus and keeps me going. It gives me the energy to tackle all the other things I have to face in my day, including my mom duties. By making the choice to move it up to the ‘Have To’, it means that, somehow, it’ll get worked into the daily routine. Once you do that, it can happen.

After that choice is made you make it a family thing. By making writing a part of your daily routine, your family will understand that at some point in the day, Mom gets to have her writing time. One of my writing mentors, who is an award-winning science fiction author, wrote several of her novels while her boys were young. She had her computer set up right in the living room (as I do) and her boys would play or watch television behind her as she met her daily writing quota. She said she’d tell them if they could play until she wrote a chapter or finished a scene, they’d all go to the park or some other family activity. And I do the same thing with my kids. You may not always have the same time each day, or the amount of time you’d like, but eventually your kids will give you that time because it isn’t made a choice. It’s a part of the routine as much as making lunch or doing the laundry. 

That being said, make sure to understand what you can handle. Whether you’re out there trying to break into the freelance markets or writing your novel, set realistic goals and only take on what you can in the amount of time you are given. Just like with everything else you do, you need to remember you can only do so much. I try to set a goal of writing at least 1500 words a day. That doesn’t mean in one sitting. Sometimes I’ll write a bit in the morning before I take the kids to school, another bit while my younger two eat lunch, a bit during rest time then the rest in the evening. And it can be different each day. Do what you can when you can and accept that’s good enough.

A question you should also ask yourself is, “What activities am I doing right now that I don’t really need to/want to be doing?” In other words, are you spending time on something(s) that you would rather not be doing or really don’t need to be doing? If you got rid of some of those commitments that you already make time for you could squeeze writing into those slots instead. And you’d be doing an activity that you truly enjoy spending your time on.

We all have snippets of time during the day when we can steal a few minutes to do a bit of writing. On days where it seems the kids may need you a bit more or you have more things to do on those lists I mentioned earlier, take a good look at times when you aren’t on mom duty. Nap time? Earlier in the morning? Waiting to pick the kids up from school or an activity? While they’re watching their favorite television program? When they’re all getting along and playing well? Can you stay up a little later? I’ve even written entire blog posts with my youngest sitting right in my lap. It can be done. Just grab onto those moments when they’re given to you.

Balancing life as a writing mom really is about making the decision that writing is important enough to you to squeeze into your already crazy life, then being strong enough to make it happen. It’s so easy to make up excuses not to get to it, trust me I’ve been there. But think about all the other things you seem to get done and make time for. You can be a successful writing mom. It’s all in a day’s work.

Chynna, thanks so much for sharing these helpful tips. If we make the choice, we can find snippets of time to reach our goals.

Chynna is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs.

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’M NOT WEIRD, I HAVE SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, NOT JUST SPIRITED: A MOM’S SENSATIONAL JOURNEY WITH SPD and WHITE ELEPHANTS), a Young Adult novel (BLACKBIRD FLIES), an adult Suspense/Thriller (OUT OF SYNC to be released March 2013), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (UNDERTOW, to be released 2012). She’s also working on a sequel to NOT JUST SPIRITED called NOT JUST SPIRITED: THE JOURNEY CONTINUES and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers.

For more on Chynna and her writing, visit her website at, as well as her blogs at and, to get a feel for her work and what inspires her. More can be found on Twitter with the hashtag: #WhtElephts.

How do you find snippets of time to reach your goals? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of WHITE ELEPHANTS.


  1. Some great advice, Chynna! I like your idea of 'Have To Do’, a ‘Should Be Doing’ and a ‘Want To Do.’ And you're right, we can fit in our daily quota around our family and responsibilities.

    Oh, I remember doing client/patient (I was a rehab counselor) reports with my baby in my arms and latter my toddler. I also made it a determination to always take the time to give a hug and say I love you. I still do it and mine are in the teens.

    Just a side note: journaling feelings when we come from backgrounds such as yours or facing any traumatic situation, is absolutely the best way to heal and grow.

    Congratulations on book!


  2. Great tips. I think "realistic goals" is key to writing success.

  3. Chynna, thanks again for sharing these tips. I think we could apply those to lots of areas of our life. Wishing you continued success.

    Sia and Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by.

  4. An interesting interview.Yes, organization, structure and balance all combine to make a healthy and productive life. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. In a previous life, our business used a "Must, Should, and May" method of prioritizing work/ projects. I never thought of applying it to my life now. Great idea, thank you.

  6. Hi there! Thanks so much for having me here today.

    @ Sia. It doesn't ever stop having to find that balance, does it? But it's all good. I'm hoping to have less in the 'Have to' and more in the 'Want to' very soon. ;)

    @ Elizabeth: Setting those 'realistic' goals is something many of us writers often forget. We take on too much then get overwhelmed with all the deadlines. We do the same thing as moms too, though, don't we? Keeping those goals reachable keeps us focused and motivates us to keep going. =)

    @ traveler: EXACTLY! I find if one of those areas is out of sync, I know I need to focus on what I need to get things back in balance.

    LD: Isn't that interesting! Although I've always organized stuff that way, a law firm I worked for many years ago prioritized files that way. Maybe that's why I found it so comforting to work there. LOL!

    Thanks to everyone for their comments and to you, Mason Canyon, for this opportunity. =)


  7. It is inspiring to learn about the author's triumph over adversity and success as well. Strength of character as well as a life that has a sound foundation is important. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.