The Perils of Working from Home for a Writer

I’ve reached that point in my recovery from surgery where things are starting to get back to normal… at least in the respect that I’m now expected to get my own cup of tea and the kids are no longer giving me the benefit of the doubt when I say “Daddy’s recovering. He needs quiet time.”

I’m also at that point where I can drive in to work a couple of days a week (though stop-and-go driving is actually still painful). So life is returning to normal, and I’m getting less done.

What? Getting less done?

Maybe it just seems that way.

It’s all about the mornings for me… and well, the afternoons too, but the mornings are killing my productivity. I’m a morning person. Always have been. Always will be. There were a few weekends in college where I slept past 10 AM, but, in all fairness, those followed the nights where I didn’t get to bed until after 4:00 AM. What? I was studying. Ahem.

My normal wakeup time when I’m taking the train into work is between 5 and 5:25 AM, depending on which train I want to catch. On those days, I write on the train on the way in and on the way home. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done that way over the last 3 years.

But working from home has made me somewhat more lazy. Friday morning, I didn’t get up until 5:45AM. Crazy, I know. I wrote for about 45 minutes before breakfast (interrupted 3 times to help my son turn on the TV to watch Ironman – Armored Adventures, his current favorite show on NetFlix.)  Then it was off to work – a five foot commute from the comfy chair in my office where I write, to my desk chair where I do my day job. I sat there for about 8 or 9 hours with a brief stop for lunch. I’m incredibly productive (for my employers) when working from home. I bang out more code and fix more bugs in a day of working from home than a week in the office. My only distraction at home is watching the garbage truck and its amazing robotic arm pick up the neighbor’s recycling bin and throw it up into the air.

On days where I ride the train, I get that afternoon writing session on the way home. On work from home days, I cannot stand to be in my office for even another minute. So I usually either move to the couch and watch something on my NetFlix queue, or, if I’m feeling good, go out to the garage and get a workout in. Option A usually wins out.

On days where I drive in, I get even less done. There’s no morning session, or afternoon session. There’s just my 35 mile commute each way, which kills my ambition for the rest of the day. I hate driving in, and have said a thousand times that if I had to do it every day, I would quit.

It’s not that I haven’t been getting anything done. I have been editing ‘Labeled’ quite productively over the past few weeks when I do get time and energy to sit down. As of this morning, I have just 4 chapters left to edit, but two of those will be complete rewrites. But because of the unusual schedule, the fact that I am ‘just editing’ and not doing it consistently, I don’t feel as productive as I have in the past. For me, as a writer, nothing feels as productive as tracking the word count on a new story. Editing just doesn’t seem to be as fulfilling. The editing cycle never seems to end.

But it’s not like there isn’t a new novel burning a hole in my mind right now that I just have to write. There are, however, the beginnings of something stirring. It’s going to get put in my ‘what-ifs’ file today, and perhaps get expanded over the next couple of months. I’ve got too much editing I still need to get done this year to start on something new, but come the New Year, I want to have a plan in place for the next story.

So, yes, life is getting back to normal. And maybe the new normal for me as a writer with 5 books ‘done’ is always being in an editing cycle. But I can’t wait to get back to working on a new story. Life just isn’t the same when I’m not.

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