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Create Anyway: a Q + A with Author Ashlee Gadd



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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I am so excited to be featuring a Q + A with author Ashlee Gadd on the blog today! She’s one of the best writers of our time and her new book Create Anyway: The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood releases today! I had the opportunity to read the book early and write an endorsement and Y’ALL- my copy is underlined, starred, highlighted, and scribbled in. Don’t wait until you’re a mother to read this book- the words apply to any and all creatives out there who want to be more devoted to their craft. xx- hb

Ashlee– I honestly think I can give you the title of my favorite writer on the Internet after 10+ years of following you. Can you tell the readers a little about your journey (because it has been a long one) to get to this place of publishing Create Anyway?

Hannah, that is such high praise, especially coming from you! I’m humbled, and the feeling is mutual.

While I’ve been writing my whole life (tell me I’m not the only one who had a Hello Kitty diary, complete with a lock and key?!), it’s probably more accurate to say my “journey” started with blogging. I started a personal blog in 2009—before Instagram, before Pinterest, before Substack, and all the other fancy things we have now. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but that was part of the fun and wonder of it. I simply wrote stories and released them into the abyss of the internet. Somehow complete strangers found my words, and I found theirs. Blogging back then was sort of akin to what social media is now. There was a whole community dedicated to putting language to the human experience and sharing glimpses of their lives with one another. It was casual and simple. A sacred little ecosystem of sorts.

After I became a mother in 2012, I started looking for more places to submit my writing online, but most of the parenting spaces I found were either wrought with clickbait or glamorized motherhood to the point of it being unrecognizable. I kept searching and searching. Where could women read about motherhood in all its messy, complicated, beautiful, and nuanced glory? Where were the honest, heartfelt stories about what being a mom was really like?

Time and time again, I came up empty. And then, one day in the shower, God nudged me to create the space I myself was looking for. I literally started working on Coffee + Crumbs that day. Almost nine years and hundreds of essays later, C+C has grown beyond my wildest dreams into a beautiful intersection of two of my favorite things: women using their creative gifts and mothers supporting mothers.

In a lot of ways, Create Anyway has been my anthem for the entirety of my motherhood. I’ve grown increasingly passionate about this message over the years, especially through my work with Coffee + Crumbs, and I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to write a whole book about it. 

I want my children to witness me doing things that light me up, that make me feel alive. I want my children to see me using what God gave me. Because that is what I want for my children, too. And if I want my kids to be good stewards of the creative gifts God has given them, the best thing I can do is model that myself.
— Ashlee Gadd

The subtitle of your book is “The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood.” Tell us a little more about what you mean when you write “margins of motherhood.”

I like to think of the margins of motherhood as those tiny slivers in your day when anything is possible. For so many of us, especially mothers with young children, we do not have 12 free hours a day to pursue our art. We might have an hour here, 20 minutes there. We do not have a magical cabin in the woods we can escape to whenever we want. We are real mothers living within the confines of our real lives—the same lives filled with laundry and work deadlines, carpool schedules and grocery lists. We have boundaries and limits, but right up against the edges, if you look closely enough, is a sliver of space. 

It might not look like much, but when you add all of those margins up, you’d be amazed at what you can pursue, what you can dream up, what you can create with that time. All of those minutes become holy fragments and sacred scraps that, when cobbled together with God’s grace, can make something beautiful.

From the beginning, I was highlighting every other line of the book. It’s so good! One of the first concepts that struck me was the idea of “creating in front of your kids.” I really want readers to go and read that first chapter, but can you tell us a little bit about how you came to this revelation and its importance?

My children see me do a lot of stuff. They see me working; they see me mothering; they see me taking care of the house and unloading groceries from the car. And while I love that my children rely on me to drive them to school and make them dinner and give them Tylenol when they have a fever, I also want my children to know me as a whole person. I want my children to see me as someone who has dreams and passions and talents, too. I want my children to witness me doing things that light me up, that make me feel alive. I want my children to see me using what God gave me. Because that is what I want for my children, too. And if I want my kids to be good stewards of the creative gifts God has given them, the best thing I can do is model that myself.

What encouragement would you give to the mother who is currently saying to herself, “I just don’t have enough time to pursue creativity”?

We make time for the things we deem important and worthwhile. Sometimes, I think the biggest hindrance to mothers pursuing creative endeavors is not the physical lack of time so much as the belief that creating is selfish. Or frivolous. Or silly. If we want to make space for creativity, we first must believe it is worthy of taking up space. 

Two nitty gritty practical notes: 1) realistic expectations are essential and 2) check your screen time. You’d be amazed how much time you can “find” if you delete social media for a while! 😉

Love the act of writing more than you love the dream of publishing. Devotion to the craft will carry and sustain you for the long haul.
— Ashlee Gadd

One of my favorite statements in the book was: Ask God for a breadcrumb. Can you elaborate on that concept?

Breadcrumbs are what I ask God for when I am feeling restless and lost. I consider breadcrumbs “made of peace and lined with grace”—when you stumble across one, there’s no mistaking where it came from. A breadcrumb could be anything: an opened door, an answered prayer, clarity, conviction, puzzle pieces of a problem suddenly clicking into place. It’s a sign, a clue, a tiny nudge toward the next right thing. 

We cannot conjure breadcrumbs up. We cannot predict which direction they will lead, how many we will find, or when they will appear. But they always arrive right on time, like manna. 

How was your experience writing this book in your own margins of motherhood? What are some of the lies you had to battle while writing?

Oh gosh, so many! I think the biggest lie I had to overcome was simply the idea that I wasn’t qualified to write this book. My imposter syndrome was out of control. Again and again, I asked God, “Are you sure about this?” And again and again, more breadcrumbs appeared. Another ladybug, another yes, another opened door. I still don’t feel qualified, but I am learning that the less qualified I feel, the bigger the leap of faith. And God’s right there, always, telling me to jump.

Because I geek out over the practices of other writers, what’s your writing practice? (i.e., time of day, favorite beverage, must-haves, length of time, etc.)

I get up at 5 am Monday through Friday. I read and drink coffee in bed for a while, and then I’m usually at my desk by 6. I always light a candle while I write. It’s become a Pavlovian trick of sorts. I swear, the second I light that candle, my brain flickers on. I try to write for an hour in the morning on whatever piece I have the most energy and passion for. I find when I give my best mental clarity to the writing I want to do first thing in the morning, I have so much more creative fuel for the day ahead. 

Because my audience is filled with people who dream of seeing their work published one day, what’s one thing you would tell the hopeful author that you’ve learned in your journey?

Love the act of writing more than you love the dream of publishing. Devotion to the craft will carry and sustain you for the long haul.


Ashlee Gadd is the author of Create Anyway: The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood and the founder of Coffee + Crumbs—a beautiful online space where motherhood and storytelling intersect. As a writer and photographer, Ashlee has spent her entire motherhood creating in the margins. When she’s not writing or vacuuming Cheerios out of the carpet, she loves making friends on the internet, eating cereal for dinner, and rearranging bookshelves. She and her husband have three kids and live in Northern California. Learn more at








  1. Collette says:

    Such a great post. Love the breadcrumb concept. Its so apparent when they appear…I love that I now have the language to pray for them!

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Hi, I'm Hannah

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