The great thing about Morgan Nichols' interview here is the support she is also creating for creative mothers. I love her openness and sincerity. This interview is just the intro into what Morgan has to offer. Get to know her below, and make sure to check out her website links for even more amazing info and support with creating while mothering.
Thank you Morgan for sharing your insights and for supporting so many in their creativity!
Writer Morgan Nichols
There are two strands to my writing practice: one is the practical side - I'm a freelance writer and content creator/copywriter - and the other is my creative writing: I'm a published poet and novelist-in-process. I also run a support network for creative soulful mothers called Wild Motherhood for which I blog regularly. In January I completed a non-fiction book called Wild Motherhood: Keeping the Creative and Soul Fires Burning, based on my interviews with 18 inspiring mothers, and my E-Book, Creative Fuel for Wild Mothers, is available for free on my website. You can see some of my publication links here. I've been running writing workshops and groups since 2008, including 'Wild Writing' and 'Your Story Matters' mothers' writing workshops. I facilitate groups for charity Mothers Uncovered, a creative support network for mothers using discussion, art & writing. I am a single mother to 7 year old Jude. You can find me on Twitter @MorganCNichols, and on Facebook @ MorganNicholsWriter.
1. What is your earliest memory you have of creating, and when did you realize you were a writer?
I remember dictating stories to my parents at the age of three, and walking up and down the garden path making up stories. I realised I was a writer probably about age 9 when I wrote my first novel and had been writing stories constantly since I could hold a pen.
2. What does a typical day/week look like? Are you a morning or night person? Do you stick to a schedule or create whenever you can?
I have no routine! I have two modes of working: either I get straight in (usually when I have a deadline!) and get past the resistance that way, or I do several warm up activities like yoga, walking, meditation etc. Even washing up or hoovering can help! On a typical week day I spend 1-2 hours of my son's school time working on creative projects, and the rest doing paid work and self-nurture which I find essential to my continued sanity and well-being – meditation, rest, time with loving friends. The best times are the weekends when my son is at his dad's and I have nowhere to be at a particular time. I usually keep those Sundays sacred for my own process and following my flow, with no pressure to create anything, and the ability to work in my pajamas or in the late afternoon, which is usually impossible when I have my son with me. I find my natural flow is to feel more geared up to work after 2pm – which doesn't work in the school day structure, so it is wonderful to be able to start when my body rhythms support me working. At random times throughout the week I do a lot of free writing and journalling out of which emerges some of my poems and ideas for larger pieces of work.
3. In one of your recent posts you said "I realise my life is for enjoying as well as producing." That thought rang so true to me. How are some of the ways you balance those two things?
In truth I do a lot more enjoying than producing! As a mother there is a lot of hidden 'production' – ie the continual juggling and holding of it all in one's head. There is no end product but a job that never ends. And as an artist that is true too – a lot of the production takes place in the incubation of ideas, the reflective moments staring out to sea or going through emotional things in life that bring rich material to write about. For me creativity doesn't come out of a harried, stressed space, which is where, as a highly sensitive person, I quickly end up if I have too much pressure to produce in my life. I make time every day for fun activities that have no outcome – like playing my ukulele and singing, which gives me a lot of pleasure. I sing in a choir weekly, and every few months I go on a 5 Rhythms dance retreat or workshop where I can experience a freedom of expression that feeds me for a long while. I go to regular community camps in the summer where I enjoy connecting with other creative people and experimenting with different forms of creativity that, not being writing, have no implicit pressure to produce for me. Its all about the art of being, and getting into a peaceful and overflowing state from which more inspiration can come. These things make my life feel abundantly worth living.
4. What is the most challenging thing about being a mother and writer? How do you handle those challenges?
Physically and mentally, as a highly sensitive person recovering from adrenal fatigue, I get exhausted quite quickly, and so unlike many other writers I rarely am able to turn evenings into productive creative work. Being a single mother with a co-parenting ex in particular has its mixed blessings – on the one hand I get guaranteed chunks of time to myself every second weekend which I know is the envy of my partnered mother friends who have to fight for every bit of time – but on the other hand there is no respite day to day, and the buck always stops with me. Emotionally, I get overwhelmed by the constant input from my son who is very high energy, extravert (while I am essentially introvert), strong-willed, and loves to share every thought passing through! I then take recovery time just doing nothing, or writing without an end result in mind, to restore myself so I can create from a full place rather than a depleted one. Sometimes I feel guilty about this downtime but I know it is essential to not be a frazzled mom, and being a good mom is still my priority. Being a writer mom in particular is a challenge because writing a novel (I have two in process, very slowly!) requires immersion in another world and a lot of solitude and reflection, which I find thin on the ground in the busy-ness of administrating life for my son on my own. I handle these challenges by giving myself permission to reach out for support and working with my resistance to receiving it. I have developed a good network over the years and my son is happy to be cared for by several different families on occasion, which has been amazing, since I do not have family in this country. I also create support for myself with things like small writers groups as writing can be quite isolating. I try to accept that I can achieve a lot but it will just take longer – and it has got a lot easier now that my son is seven. I try to avoid comparing myself with non-mother artists/writers and just make sure I am keeping some momentum going, even if progress is slow!
5. I would love for you to talk about Wild Motherhood and the major inspiration behind it.
Wild Motherhood began with the idea to interview inspiring ‘mother mentors’ – mothers who are active creatively and spiritually – and write a book based on that. I had been running writing workshops and groups for mothers for a few years before this. I was fascinated to see how mothers around me managed to keep their fires lit even when they were utterly consumed by motherhood so much of the time. Wild motherhood as a concept is the idea that we can bring all of who we are to motherhood: we don't have to compartmentalise our lives. We can be radiantly, exuberantly creative, honour our emotions and needs, and still be there for our children. Imperfectly, and one day at a time. Wild motherhood is a way of being that encourages women to be kinder to themselves. Most of all it's about giving permission: to let go of rigid societal or inherited ideas about what a good mother is, and find our own definitions of what works for us and our families. My Wild Motherhood coaching and workshops help mothers to experience their deeper, wilder selves, and to create structures that support this going forward.
6. Do you have any new projects you are working on that you can tell us about?
I am very excited about my Wild Motherhood online course which helps mothers to celebrate and support their creativity as well as nurture their spiritual or personal growth, using tools like reflective writing, art journalling, meditation and discussion with a group of like-minded mothers. I hope to launch this in the autumn. There will also be a subscription group for more tailor-made support. In terms of my own creative projects, I am working on a novel about four very different women who meet at a yoga retreat, following the twists and turns of their lives over the years that follow. I am also resurrecting a half-finished young adult novel that I would love to complete!
7. What are some of your creative goals you would like to accomplish over the next few years?
Finish at least one novel, have my Wild Motherhood book out there in the world in some form, have a huge international Wild Motherhood tribe - and keep creating and being open to the next direction – I am open to whatever that is! I would love to do many more 5 Rhythms workshops which for me is a fantastic way of empowering creative expression, and work towards training as a teacher in this discipline.
8. Finally, name an artistic mother who inspires you. Why and how does she inspire you?
Petra Creffield is one of the interviewees for my upcoming Wild Motherhood book and a poet I worked and performed with in the Writing Sisters Collective. She is a talented photographer, writer and mother of three who inspires me because she has always taken the bull by both horns despite her parenting responsibilities, and pursued her art and her vision. She involved her children in her work by for example including them in a photography project that depicted the dilemma between her student self and her mother self.
Two of my favourite quotes from her:
“You've got to decide your priorities and you've got to be on top of the list. ..If you don't do that how will your kids learn to value creativity, if they don't see you doing it?”
“You've just got to manage it differently...2 hours a month on a thing you love will change your world. ... It's not about how often you work, it's about how you work, when you work – you have to focus. ...Don't worry about the whole thing – you'll get overwhelmed and give up. I'm a great believer in 'just paint the front door'. ...Keep it simple. It's too easy to chunk it all up in the mind.”
I'm no longer doing Creative Mothers interview, but this will remain as an archive. Thank you for all of the love!
About the Series
Let's face it, being a mother can be the most challenging, and the most rewarding thing. Being a mother who needs to be creative can be even more challenging, it can even feel lonely at times.
So let's dig deeper into the lives of creative mothers, share their amazing work, and get some insight into creating while parenting. Hopefully, inspiring other artistic, creative mothers, and women who may one day be mothers themselves, along the way.
Explore Past Interviews
Suzi Banks Baum
Shelli Bond Pabis
Elizabeth B. Borowsky
Kellee Wynne Conrad
Kisco Print Shop
Art by Megan