Thursday, June 7, 2012

Working from Home

This post will be a little different. My circumstances have changed, and I'm doing a lot of thinking now about how to continue my writing when life doesn't always accomodate the time you want to put into it.

There's an irony in the fact that while I was working a boring dayjob, I wrote with every free moment--but once I took a few months off to write full time, I was no longer able to put the same level of energy into it. I think that while I was working, writing was my escape from the annoyance of my eight hour workday. A promise of a better future. But I constantly lamented that I didn't have more time to put into it. Once I had the time, I faced other challenges: organization, structure, motivation.

I still managed to outline a novel and write 25,000 words, which isn't too bad for one month. I just feel I could have done better. But now I'm finding myself with April and May having slid by, and only brainstorming on two new projects to show for it, no actual writing yet.

At this point, I'm facing yet a different set of challenges. I have a new job, but this time, I'm working from home on a project that I'm actually very excited about.

I do this thing: when I get into something, I dive in fully, barely coming up for air. This can be great for writing a LOT in short periods of time, when creativity strikes. It can be good for any project. But it makes it hard to multi-task.

I'm still looking for that balance. How do I meet my work obligations and still make sure to set aside time for writing?

I don't have to deal with commute time anymore (working from home) so that's a big benefit. But at the same time, there's a loneliness to working from home that saps my creative will. I know I'm not alone in that either; I've read about other authors who found they really needed to get out and at least work a part time job in order to keep up their creative spirits.

Then there's also the same challenges I've always had, just the challenge of keeping myself on task without external structure. I'm definitely getting better at it; five years ago I would not have been able to either write the way I do now or work from home successfully. But I've still got a lot to learn.

What do you guys think? Do you face similar challenges? If so, how do you solve them?

If this isn't what gives you writer's block, what does? What do you think your biggest challenges as a writer are?


  1. I do sometimes wish that I had more time to write, but my job has helped make my writing better.

    I think that working while writing helped me a lot to get me into good habits for the following reasons:

    Writing while not at 100%: I no longer wait to be 'in the zone' to write. After all, myself and everyone at work can do just (or 99%) as good a job when tired on a Monday morning than when they get 'in the zone'. The same applies to writing although it's a common myth that you need to be 'in the zone' to write well. The feeling of being 'in the zone' is the 1% of inspiration that will get nothing done if you don't have the 99% of persperation.

    Getting into good habits: Being at work forced me to do certain things at certain times of the day so then I scheduled writing around it and thne started writing at certain times of the day every day. If I had no job, then I would jsut write when I felt like it, rather than ecvery day.

    Time management: Having a limited amount of time made me think creatively about the time I have. I now use the voice recorder on my phone to record ideas for gamebooks while drive to and from work (resulting in 30 minutes of brainstorming a day), I carry a note pad for when ideas strike. If I can't get to a computer, I make flow diagrams and plans and so when I do get to a computer, all I have to do is type.

    focusing on one thing at a time: I'm really bad at this, but I'm trying to get myself in the habit - my main sin is having tons of windows open on my computer at any one time. I need to put my messy idea making somewhere else such as on paper or in a voice recording and focus when I'm in front of a computer. If an idea strikes half way through, I write things down.

    Don't just write: I need a supply of interaction with people and experiences to fuel my inspiration, which my job can supply very well. If I didn't have a job, I'd try loads of other hobbies. The good thing about writing is that every experience you have can be useful for your work.

    I think that once I get into good habits, I might be able to write without a day job (but I'll still need it to buy stuff like food and accommodation, extravagent person that I am).

    I think that blogging really helped me get into the habit of writing - a blog is a short project that I could complete doing an hour a week's work. I enjoyed it and felt a sense of satisfaction in completing it. I need things like that when writing a book that won't give me the satisfaction of being complete for months. On the other side, I cannot let these small projects take up all of my time, however. One thing I've done is write tons of blog posts in one go and drip feed them out at the rate of 1/week so that I'm not pressured into doing it either. Feeling like I have to do something takes the joy out of it.

    1. Oh and some banging (I'd just like to point out that I use that word ironically) tunes get me in the mode (or mood - that was a typo I'm going to keep in) such as:

      You can't go far wrong with Two Steps from Hell.

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  3. And, most importantly, don't spend all of your time leaving comments on peoples' blogs.