How to find your best story ideas — hint: they are your biggest mistakes

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In my 51 years of life, I’ve had over 35 jobs, 3 careers, and made more mistakes on the way to count. Personally and professionally. Actually, make that 4 careers because… Motherhood. And countless more mistakes follow.

To be honest, I don’t get all the advice from writers about how to come up with ideas to write about. Or why it’s needed. And, yet, here I am with advice about mining your life for story ideas. It’s really not that hard. It doesn’t have to be. Just write what you know. I know you’ve heard that before. …


3 medical tests you should know about when trying to conceive.

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I couldn’t wait to receive the call — and also dreaded it. Every time before, the tone of the nurse’s ‘Hello’ gave away the bad news: “I’m sorry, your HCG was negative.” I was not pregnant, again. What went wrong this time? Why? How?

Today her voice was bright and happy, “Congratulations!” “You’re kidding…,” I said.

So, after 5 ½ years and with a happy, war torn heart, I could finally say: I’m having a baby. That’s 5 ½ years of miscarriages, needles, visualizations, hypnosis, diet changes, yoga, hormones, blood tests, ultrasounds, workshops, acupuncture, surgeries, egg retrievals, staggering medical bills— and many tears. …


From baby to preschool — my 4-year-old still loves (and learns from) these toys

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When we brought my baby home from the hospital, we had all the usual baby gear: stroller, high chair, bathtub, bassinet, and play mat. But we didn’t have any toys. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I even think about toys? Sure, we had a few stuffed animals and the classic Sophie giraffe doll that babies can chew on, but what about things for her to actually interact with and learn from?

We also had the early learning tools for a Montessori baby: a mirror attached to the wall near her play area, a mobile hook, and all the mobiles to hang based on her age from black and white flat shapes to three-dimensional colors. And that was great. Having that made me feel ready to start my daughter’s life off on the right foot. …


I find the story. Fast.

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I was always a closet writer. I knew I wanted to be a writer but I had no idea what kind of writing I wanted to do. I still have all the journals I’ve ever written in. I kept my best high school and college papers — dot matrix printing and all.

I also wanted to be an actor. I decided that was a smarter, maybe easier and less riskier choice than being a writer! So I studied drama in college, hit the theatre scene in New York and TV in LA and had a nominal amount of success. …


These chocolate chip cookies use a secret ingredient from your childhood for chewy goodness.

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I am not a cook. I am a baker. Most people are one or the other but not both. I learned this from my husband’s aunt one year at Thanksgiving dinner. She asked me, “Who is the cook in the family?” And I paused and just stared at her blankly because neither of us are good cooks, really. And I replied, “I can bake but I don’t really cook. Not very well.” And she said, “Then you are a baker. You should be proud of that. It’s hard to be a baker and most people are either a cook or a baker.” …


These songs will always call you back.

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I wonder if you have to have actually grown up in the ‘80s to feel the torn angsty, yearning, forlorn pull of the love-torn ballads the decade is known for. When you hear them, do they tear at your unrequited teen-love heart strings like it does at mine?

When you hear Human League’s “Human,” do you remember holding hands with Dan Mitchell at Sheri’s roller skating birthday party when the DJ called out “couples skate?” Are you thrown back into 8th grade, when Dave Widland asked you to go steady and then tried to kiss you goodbye in front of everybody at Jodi’s pool party while your mom waited to take you home in the Volvo station wagon? Do memories of not sleeping with—or even making out with!— your true love prom date in the limo come back to haunt you? No? …


And she helped save me from crippling postpartum anxiety.

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All I could do was sit at the dining table and stare at the baby monitor. I could not get up to clean or lay down to nap while my daughter napped or even look at TV. I had full blown and I was in nap prison. My daughter was a cat napper — she only napped 45 minutes at a time and, at 4 months old, she needed a nap every 90 minutes. So I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the house even if I wanted to.

I made a great mom friend who had a child just a few months younger than my own. She suggested I talk to her birth for help. I was already waiting for my prescribed meds to kick in and I did not have a village of friends and family nearby who could help me raise my baby, so I was game for anything that could help me. This was my first and only child, after a , and I had no baby experience. …


How caring for yourself first ultimately helps your child — despite the mom-shaming.

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Just like all my other hopeful (i.e naive) plans about becoming a mother — natural hypno-birthing, only organic cotton clothing, chemical free soap and lotion — I planned on breastfeeding my baby for at least a year. Of course. No questions asked. And then I got hit by a mack truck of .

It all started with the traumatic (for me) birth of my daughter — not to mention the . From my water breaking but labor not starting to the power struggle between my nurse and my doula to 3 hours of pushing to the unexpected caesarean to my uterus not contracting down after birth and having clots pulled out by hand to my husband standing there holding our baby wondering if I would live — things did certainly not go as planned. …


While I hyperventilated with anxiety in front of her

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The hangnail on my left pointer finger was so painful, I couldn’t sleep. The throbbing would not stop. And, to add insult to injury, I was the parent of a newborn. So sleep was a precious commodity. I cried in the dark trying not to wake up my husband. Until I did and then I asked him to help me.

The next day I took myself to the doctor to treat my tiny but mighty injury. I carefully made an appointment during my daughter’s nap time so I could get there and back before I had to breastfeed her again.

I had just been diagnosed with (PPA) but not treated for it yet, so this whole quick trip to the doctor for a harmless hangnail made me super anxious. I was also pumping breast milk so I knew my husband could feed our daughter should I happen to be late. …

About

Katie Grant

Mom | Journalist | Top Writer in Parenting The Ascent, Good Men Project, The Writing Cooperative, Publishous “I find the story. Fast.”

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