Mama's Writing

Nikesha Elise Williams | Mama’s Writing

Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.

What’s the best motherhood advice you’ve ever gotten?

The best motherhood advice I’ve gotten is from my own mom who said, “You need to reduce your stress because your baby feels everything that you feel.” She said this to me after I had my son and while I was pregnant with my daughter. While I can’t always reduce my stress, I try to remain cognizant of how I’m feeling so that when I’m interacting with [my kids] and responding to them or their behavior, it is not from a place of my own stress, which may lead me to snap. I don’t always succeed, but I try.  

How has motherhood shaped your priorities?

I’ve had to reinvent my life. Before having children I wanted this big New York, news [producer] life. My husband hates the North so it was still very far-fetched, but after having my son, I realized that I didn’t want to go back to work in news at all, let alone move all over the country to try to get to the number one market. It was also during my maternity leave with my son that I finished my first novel. That time to write brought me back to a dream I kept to myself in college about being able to wake up and work from home writing. 

It took some years, but I was able to make it happen, to be present for my son (because I hadn’t been, as a producer) and to see where this writing thing would lead. And then I got pregnant with my daughter while I was still trying to build a writing career. 

At [their current ages of] six and four months, I do my best to put my children first. All of my writing work must take place while my son is in school. However, with a baby at home, she’s kind of like, “Nah,” when it comes to what I think my plans are. On those days when she demands my attention, I remember Toni Morrison’s quote about writing on the edges of the day and leave whatever I have to do until then, whether that’s from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. after they’ve gone to bed, or from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. before they wake. 

I also include them in my work. Whether that’s breastfeeding while typing, checking homework at a book event, or letting them both play in my home studio while I’m editing a podcast. I try to make sure their wants and needs are first, but [I] also show them that [even though] they’re first, I haven’t forgotten about myself. I think that’s important for both of them to see.

What’s your least favorite thing about being a mother?

Figuring out what’s for dinner. I saw a meme that read, “Not to be dramatic, but being in charge of what everyone eats, WHEN THEY EAT IT, and how the food f****** appears, EVERY single day, is unreasonable AF.” 

I wholeheartedly agree.

What fictional mother gets on your nerves?

Yancy Braxton’s mom from the E. Lynn Harris novels. I couldn’t stand that lady. I didn’t really like Yancy either, but her mother was a mess.

Knowing that your children will read your work at some point, how does that impact your candor when writing?  

It’s the reason I write fiction. Ha! Hopefully, they’ll get lost in the story and not ask about the inspiration. However, the spoken word collection and corresponding one-woman show I did may be the truest to my own life they can glean something from, along with a few freelance pieces here and there. Whenever they come to those works, I hope they have empathy and grace, and if they have any questions I’ll answer them honestly. 

What’s the secret to surviving motherhood?


What makes you a bad-ass mother?

I’m relentless.

Photo credit: Toni Smailagíc

Nikesha Elise Williams is a two-time Emmy award-winning producer, an award-winning author, and producer and host of the Black & Published podcast. Her latest novel, Beyond Bourbon Street, was awarded Best Fiction by the Black Caucus of African-American Librarians in the 2021 Self-Published eBook Literary Awards. It also received the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Nikesha’s debut novel Four Women received the 2018 NABJ Outstanding Literary Work Award and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award for Adult Contemporary/Literary Fiction. Nikesha is a Chicago native. She attended The Florida State University where she graduated with a B.S. in Communication: Mass Media Studies and Honors English Creative Writing. Nikesha writes full time with bylines in The Washington Post, ESSENCE, and VOX. Nikesha lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her family.

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Filed under: Mama's Writing


Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow.