Monday, August 27, 2018


By Mary Kennedy                                                 


Saw this photo and it brought back memories. I wrote my first 7 books on a typewriter just like this, and I worked from home. Still do, as a matter of fact. I've written the next 40 books amidst the chaos of a busy household with 6 cats.

Lots of writers dash off to coffee shops to write (fewer distractions, they say) but I like being in the comfort of my own home. If I want to refill my coffee, I don't need to stand at a counter and I can have silence or the sounds of my own carefully selected music.

There are some advantages to working from home, and some downsides. It's not for everyone.

Here are a few of the negatives.

1. It can be isolating. (well, my home time isn't, because I've got the fur babies to keep me company while I toil away.) They occasionally make plot suggestions and I nod appreciatively. After all, they're only trying to help. But on a more serious note, some of my friends say they need a lot of activity and background noise to concentrate, and they hate the solitude of a lonely home office.

2. Too many distractions, too many household tasks are calling to you.

Some people find it hard to work from home because they're surrounded by their never-ending "to do" list and they can't concentrate on the task at hand. There are so many things calling to them--should they pop up for a moment and do a load of wash? Decide to meet that friend for a quick stroll? Dash out to the store and pick up something for dinner? In an office environment, you don't have as many items competing for your attention. You and your co-workers are there to do a job, and hopefully, you stay on task.

3.  You may not be motivated enough to stay focused. At home, there's no one peering over your shoulder to make sure you get the work done. At home, there's just you and the cat (or cats, in my case) and you have to really be motivated to grind it out, hour after hour, day after day. Calpurnia's not going to chide me for not getting my "pages" done each day. 

4. You might not have a dedicated work space at home. This never bothered me, but it bothers some people. I wrote my first 20 or 30 books from the dining room table. I didn't have a dedicated room in the house for my computer, files, etc. But some folks just don't like working from their kitchen, for example, and need the structure of a "real" office. And they need it to be neat. Not like this cluttered home office.                      

5. People don't really believe you're "working," since you're home. They can intrude on your time, if you're not careful. Dropping in for coffee, asking for help with a volunteer project, etc.

6. Working from home can turn you into a workaholic. Since there's no clear definition between "work time," and "home time," you end can up working (or thinking about work) 24-7. Although I've found that most writers do this anyway. Our characters live our heads no matter where we are, and we listen to their dialogue, watch their body language and think of where the plot will lead them. Our minds are never still.

How about you, do you work from home? Do you love it! Please chime in with your thoughts.

Mary Kennedy

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