Writing through Motherhood
This supportive, productive writing workshop gives moms the opportunity to explore your role as a mother- and a person- during this challenging and important time of your life.
Whether your kids are forthcoming or already grown, you will gain a sense of self as you put a voice to your experiences on the page.
In weekly meetings that are part writer’s group to get your writing flowing and part mothers’ group to share in the joys and difficulties, participants support each other as writers and mothers and explore the ways those roles inform, challenge, and fortify one another.
Eight Weeks: Next Session TBD
Weekly live meetings: Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. EST
Instructor Keri Bertino is a writer, writing instructor at Columbia University’s graduate writing program, and mom of two, the second of which was born in the backseat of a car. Keri recently wrote about her “extramural birth” in a beautiful essay, “Pull Over, I’m Having a Baby,” for Topic Magazine.
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Over the course of our eight online meetings, through reading, writing, and discussion via video conference, participants will:
- Examine and debunk some common cultural narratives about who writers are, what they need to be creative and productive, what they write (and don’t write) about, and how motherhood intersects with these;
- Gain a toolbox of writing and time-management strategies that respond to both the unique creativity and sensitivity of new parenthood and to very real changes in schedules, sleep patterns, and lives at-large;
- Set writing goals, and hold themselves (and each other) accountable to meeting those goals;
- Design a flexible, sustainable writing practice that responds to their changing lives, and that will carry them through this period and beyond;
- Use writing to process and understand their experiences of parenthood;
Receive and contribute to the support of a community of writers and mothers—a community with the potential to continue and thrive after the workshop ends.
Keri Bertino teaches in the MFA Writing program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. For eight years, she directed the Writing Center at Baruch College, CUNY, supporting both student and professional writers, and has taught fiction, nonfiction, poetry, humor, journalism, academic writing, and professional development for teachers at Columbia University, Baruch College, The Cooper Union, New York City Public Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools, and in many other settings. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Fametracker, and she is completing her first novel. She holds an MFA in Writing from Columbia, and a BA from Vassar College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY where she teaches Writing through Motherhood workshops and is a mom to Sullivan and Willa.
Why a writing workshop just for mothers?
More seriously, I’ve hit my stride as a writer since giving birth to my children. As I’ve spoken to and worked with other writers who are mothers over the years, I’ve discovered that there are strong patterns in the challenges writers encounter in early motherhood, and in how those who find their footing again adjust their practices in response to those challenges. I’ve learned, too, that a significant set of challenges for nearly everyone is loneliness, artistic isolation, and not yet knowing that these struggles are universal and at the same time temporary and surmountable. Unfortunately, the structure and focus of most writing workshops—where writers often seek community—don’t typically respond to or accommodate the needs of writers in early parenthood. So I created one that does.
Whom do you mean by “mother”?
If you think of yourself as a mother, you are welcome.
What work will be expected between meetings?
You’ll be expected to make progress on your weekly writing goals—goals that you set, that make sense for you, your life, and your work. That might mean writing 100 words a day, or 500. It might mean taking down three story ideas. It might mean blocking out time to write for 20 minutes three days a week. It might mean revising one page of your novel, or five, or a chapter. Everyone’s goals will be different. There will also be short weekly readings. Everything we do between video meetings can be posted and talked about in the online classroom, which is always active and available so you can dip in and engage on your schedule (or, realistically, your child’s).
Unlike many workshops, the cycle of preparing submissions and reading and commenting on the work of others will not be a component of this workshop.There will be opportunities to share work, but no pressure to create full pieces on deadlines or to provide written feedback to others.
What kind of writing is welcome? Will the focus be only on writing about parenting?
Any kind of writing you’re working on is welcome, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, academic writing, children’s writing, or anything else. While writing about parenting is completely welcome, it’s by no means expected.
How the Online Workshop Works
- After enrolling, you will receive an email with some information about your workshop. A few days before the workshop is to begin, you will receive your username and log in information for your secure online classroom.
- Once the course begins, you will have unlimited access to your classroom. Log in any time to enjoy ongoing conversation, post work and feedback, and download materials from the instructor and fellow students 24/7.
- Each week a few minutes prior to your live meeting, you will receive an email with a link to the group’s private video conference. Click it, and you’ll be brought into the private interactive meeting.