A couple of years ago I started noticing Jessica Fisher’s name in almost every issue of Kansas City Parent magazine under “contributing authors”. Her bio said she had five kids, and I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND how she had time to write and send off a publishable article every month. I had only one under my belt and couldn’t fathom ever getting another idea.
I assumed her kids were in school or that she had a nanny. So when I noticed her bio said she now has SIX kids and listed a website address, I ran to the computer and typed in the address. Turns out she HOMESCHOOLS, just like me.
Jessica has a great writing website and also a blog (she wants you to “join me on the Road to Joyful Motherhood”), as well as a book that you can order off of her blog called “Cooking With Children.” Below is a short interview with her.
KERRIE: How do you find time to write with 6 kids and homeschooling? Do you have a schedule? Write when they sleep?
JESSICA: Usually I take Saturday mornings off. That is when I have done the bulk of my writing, pre-baby. I would head to Panera as early as I could wake and come back at lunchtime. I got a lot done during those 5-6 hours. Since the baby was born, I just fit it in here and there, often in the mornings before the entire household is awake. It just doesn't seem productive to go sit in a coffee shop to hold a fussy baby when I could do it so much more comfortably at home. Since I started writing, I've simply put other hobbies (mainly scrapbooks and shopping) on the shelf. There is only a limited amount of time to devote to these things, so the other interests gave way for this one.
KERRIE: When did you start your freelance writing business?
JESSICA: I started writing for magazines in 2006.
KERRIE: How many publications have you written for?
JESSICA: My work has been printed in about 70 regional parenting publications in the US and Canada.
KERRIE: How much time do you spend on it in an average week?
JESSICA: That really depends. I don't have set hours. And I can't really control when I'll get a good idea. I have multiple notebooks here and there for notes. I write whenever I have a good idea and the time to implement it
KERRIE: What percent of your income would you guess is based on reprints?
JESSICA: I have no idea of the percentage, but I usually sell the same piece many times since most of my clients are not in competing markets.
KERRIE: Does anything suffer because you write? (e.g., the dishes sit for a while, the laundry piles up)
JESSICA: Household chores certainly back up, but I don't think that is because I write. If I wasn't doing this, I'd have some other creative project to distract me from housework.
KERRIE: Do you older kids help with chores so you can get writing done? (I am a
big fan of this!)
JESSICA: Writing is something I've always loved, but it is by far a part-time job. I didn't go looking for another job. I love my day job. All my kids over 4 years old have regular weekly chores, but they would have that regardless. They were doing it long before I was writing.
KERRIE: How do you keep the kids occupied while you write?
JESSICA: My kids love their free time and since there are so many of them, they pretty much entertain themselves if I'm doing a task. But, I try not to sit down to write a piece if I know I will be interrupted many times. I try to wait until everyone is asleep for the night.
What I learned from this interview:
Strangely enough, I hadn’t thought of borrowing my husband’s laptop and heading to a place with WiFi and getting some writing done on Saturday mornings (he’s off every other Friday as well!). I guess with all his travel and then trying to catch up on home matters, I didn’t realize that our baby was one year old and that I could leave her for a couple of hours with Daddy and siblings.
What I love about Jessica and her family is that she MAKES the time to write, and her husband supports that by helping with the kids. I expect to see her cranking out a best-selling non-fiction book when her latest baby gets to a “leave-able age.”
I need to set my alarm so I can get some quiet time alone in the mornings, especially since I’m between babies and don’t need as much sleep. That’s much more productive and more kind than trying to write whenever I THINK the kids are occupied and then yelling at them for breaking my concentration.