Sara Tasker lives in West Yorkshire with her husband Rory, and their daughter Orla, aged 3

Tell us about what you do… I used to work for the NHS as a speech therapist but gave it all up a few years ago to pursue a carer in photography and writing. I now run workshops, do some mentoring and some speaking events and run a popular blog, Me and Orla

Tell us about where you live? I live in a small village in West Yorkshire with my husband and our daughter. Before moving here both Rory and I had only ever lived in the city on a terraced street in a pretty grim part of town, but when Orla came along all the tarmac and traffic started to feel suffocating and I found myself craving a slower pace of life, so we decided to move. The village we live in is tiny – there’s a pub, a postbox and an honesty box to buy eggs. That’s it.

Sara's daughter, Orla

How do you juggle motherhood and work? It’s a tough one. Orla goes to a childminder three days a week and I work in cafes roughly nine until five while she’s there (if I work from home I get too distracted by laundry and life). The other two weekdays are what we calls ‘mummy and Orla days’, and I officially don’t work during the day. Of course I inevitably stay up late in the evenings catching up and trying to stay on top of things. I find I feel guilty for not working when I’m with her, and guilty for not being with her when I work.

Does your husband help out? Yes, absolutely. Rory is always there to do his share – whether I’m stressing over a big deadline or just get a sudden Saturday afternoon hit of inspiration – he’s happy to take Orla and give me some time to work. We’re a very equal partnership. I get a bit pissy when people ask if Rory’s ‘babysitting’ or ‘helping out’. No, he’s fulfilling his parental responsibilities, just like me.

Sara's daughter, Orla

What’s it like working for yourself? I love it. I feel like I’m fulfilling my dreams every day, and I love how much flexibility and creativity is involved. When I first went self-employed I was making my income mainly through sponsored work. That felt a little soulless, so I switched to doing more mentoring which I’m now phasing out in favour of more freelance writing and public speaking. The big downside is the workload. It’s slightly self-inflicted I know, but it’s really difficult to plan and space things out when the best opportunities often come with ridiculously short deadlines. I’m never up to date – my inbox is full of emails I should reply to but never can – and I often feel like I’m letting people down, but I’m gradually learning about my own limitations, the value of what I do, and when it’s ok to say no to things.

What inspires you to keep going? The fear. Some of my most productive, creative times are when I start to worry my moment is fading and the work might start to dry up. Also anxiety can be a brilliant motivator, and it feels way better than sitting back and letting it consume you.

Where does work finish and life begin? When your work is what you love to do the line is very hazy. Some tasks – taxes, emails, invoicing clients – are easy to put into the ‘work’ box, but others like photography are in every moment of my day. Sometimes I vow to take days off, but invariably find by 3pm I’m desperate to create something and missing that part of my identity. 

For more about Sara check out or follow @me_and_orla on Instagram

More in Features

By , 6th November 2023
My new literary suspense THE END OF SUMMER announced in The Bookseller

From book to screen

By , 28th February 2023
Free resources and tips for would be screenwriters, from a complete novice - and some professionals - as I navigate the process of adapting my novels for TV and film

Observer New Review Q&A

By , 22nd March 2022
An interview with Stephanie Merritt about Edith and Kim, the perils of writing about family, and why female spies often get overlooked

Researching Edith and Kim

By , 17th November 2021
From a compendium of stories about life at the Bauhaus to a Modernist memoir by the founder of the iconic Isokon, here are some of the books that inspired my forthcoming novel

Book festivals 2021

By , 19th August 2021
From a celebration of the life of John le Carré at Cheltenham to an exploration of women and crime in Chiswick, please join me at one of the following events, across the country (and the internet!)