Working from Home as a Writer—Some Truths

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Working from home is something that sounds amazing for many people.  Who wouldn’t want to work from home, right?  No commute.  No dry cleaning bills.  No annoying coworkers.  No gasoline budget, parking decks, or lunches packed.

The truth is that working from home is great.  Sometimes.  And sometimes it’s not as great.  Take this blog post, for example.  It should have been written yesterday (at the latest) and scheduled to post right after midnight this morning.  But it’s been a crazy last couple of weeks because my children have been frequently at home due to teacher workdays, a national holiday, and an odd midterm exam schedule.

Sometimes unusual weeks like these will knock me right off my game.  Maybe I can meet my writing goals (I have), but supper for the family ends up being canned soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Maybe I’ll meet some goals and not others. 

But I can’t blame the children for all of my issues.  Sometimes working from home is difficult and there is no one here but myself, two cats, and a dog.  There are no excuses for poor performance then, but it happens.

These are some truths I’ve found about working from home:

Sometimes home isn’t the best place to work because it’s distracting.

Sometimes home isn’t the best place to work because the sameness of it isn’t inspiring.

If home isn’t the best place to work today, for any reason at all, realize that fact quickly and pack up our stuff for the coffeehouse/library.

Timers are helpful for any social media time while working at home.

Friends and family might need parameters.  I would be on an interminable coffee break if I didn’t have clear working hours.

Write the absolute minimum we feel we must meet that day for our goal…first.  Sometimes this is easier before anyone else gets up.

If we have young children at home, consider using a timer to show them when we’re available. Be very explicit about what we need from them.

Occasionally we must have nice clothes for various writerly functions. Or even weddings and funerals.  We should also sometimes update the nice clothes that we do have.

Sometimes setbacks to our writing schedule aren’t really setbacks—they just need to be thought through.  The mother in my middle school carpool who drives in the afternoons isn’t available to drive for the next few weeks because of a family emergency.  That means I’m driving mornings and afternoons.  I’m looking at the afternoon carpool line as an opportunity to work on one of the books I’m writing.

How is your writing going?  When do you fit it in with your family time or your other obligations?  Tips for working from home?

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64 thoughts on “Working from Home as a Writer—Some Truths

  1. No tips, I’m afraid. Everyone has different responsibilities and deadlines to meet. My feeling though is that working from home requires a LOT MORE self-discipline than when you’re in an office (I’ve spent 25 years in an office, so I think I know the difference). Working at home has always meant carving time for myself at the expense of others – the family, friends…And it can be very hard to do! For example, I go by my Mom’s apartment every evening, around 6 pm (she’s 101 years old) and she likes it when I take time to read to her. But if I’m in the midst of writing, I lose sight of the time and then turn up at her place an hour late, with little time left to read to her. A disappointment for her (she hides it well!) and I rush home to make dinner, feeling guilty all the same, in spite of her smile.

    That’s what working home does to you: makes you feel guilty!

    1. Claude– You’re right about the self-discipline for home. I haven’t worked in an office since….oh, early 1997. But I remember always feeling as if someone was keeping a managerial eye on me (it was a bank) and that helped me focus. At home, I’m the only one in charge of me.

      Also, in 1997, there was no internet at work. :) Not nearly as distracting with no internet.

      You are a great daughter! That’s quite a sacrifice of time you’re making, even if it’s an enjoyable sacrifice. There is *no way* to escape guilt. I feel guilty all day long…a curse of motherhood, I think. I can’t seem to avoid the feeling, so I just try to ignore it as much as possible, ha!

  2. Home would be distracting – things that need to be done, games to play, shows to watch.
    When I’m writing, I clear a couple hours every night no matter what. My wife understands.

    1. Alex–Yes, home is a constant reminder of other things. The dust on the shelf. The dryer buzzer. The dishwater that has just stopped running. Clearing a couple of hours on a daily basis…that’s real dedication, Alex.

  3. I’m not sure I could write full time from home . I think I would need to go somewhere else to be productive on a regular basis, even if it meant renting an office somewhere. You’re right, the sameness would get to me.

    1. Ken–The sameness only seems to really bother me when I’m trying to come up with characters or settings. I think I must be a very visual writer in respect to those two areas. So I’ll slip out for a while to write. The local library seems to host a lot of characters, fortunately!

  4. I worked for a provincial (state-wide) organization for 22 years. For 15 of those years, I worked from home. I loved it. I was very disciplined, had set office hours and my children were old enough to know what the office hours were. My husband and I put together a fully furnished office in one of our spare rooms. I did have to make sure that extended family knew that when I was working, I wasn’t available to “chat”.
    I was laid off a few years ago and decided to pursue writing and thought it would be an easy transition. Not so! I struggled with working in my office as it reminded me of the work I did, which I loved. So, I work in different areas of the house. My children are grown and no longer living with us, most of the time it’s just the dog and I. My favourite place to write is the dining room table. When I get bored with that, I go to our local library and that works too.
    Working from home does take discipline and understanding from family members but it is possible to be a productive and inspired writer (or employee).

    1. Rose–What you did was brilliant. You realized your problem and figured out a viable solution. So maybe we just need to switch the *rooms* we write in. In the last year I’ve switched from the den to the kitchen counter (tall counter, tall chairs there). I’m a bit more productive there. The switch was also necessary because of my back problems.

  5. I’ve actually taken a lot of your previous tips to heart, particularly reasonable goals and writing in ten or thirty minute bits, which usually inspire me to do more, and not doing my impression of the protagonist in Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man when I write.

    And the importance of good snacks cannot be overstated!

    1. Deborah–Oh good! Yes, I never write longer than 20 minutes unless I’m seriously behind on a deadline. I’m easily distracted, so 20 minutes is about as long as I can possibly handle. On bad days, I’ll only do 5 minutes at a time although sometimes that creates choppy writing from me.

      Snacks! I’m on a walnut binge now. :)

  6. Enjoyed reading this post on my coffee break — while working from home in front of a nice fire on a rainy, cold day! Most days I enjoy my home office, but this post made me think about changes I might need to make in my approach. In visiting with several writers recently, we decided we have to be careful not to get too home-bound, sliding into the PJs-and-solitude routine more than is healthy.Thanks.

    1. I have a new L-shaped desk, shelves, file drawers and a window! I can see the birds and squirrels which offers me a quick break when I’m thinking a scene through. I want to clean out the files but they must go on the back burner because I’m involved in a conference which is eating up all my writing time. When you work from home, it’s easy to take on projects because the world sees you as having all your days free. I do best when I get my chores done and set a time to be at work. I have learned to set a time limit on email and social media. For me, a daily, weekly and monthly schedule is a must.

      1. Sue–Oh my goodness, YES! People think that if you’re at home, you’re free. This is one of the most difficult things about working from home. That’s why office hours are important for home workers. And never let the schools know, or you’ll be Chaperone for Life for any event.

        Enjoy your new desk!

        1. We noticed that when my wife was at home with the young kids, doing her Masters via distance Ed., her appointments would constantly be shuffled around last minute, whereas mine never did. We got the distinct impression they thought she was just sitting around at home doing nothing.

          Working from home takes patience, dedication and a family commitment.

          1. Silas–I’ve thought about this some and I think that the school/doctor offices/etc. just assume that when we work at home that our schedule is flexible enough so that we can adjust it when changes occur. Sometimes we can…sometimes we can’t!

    2. Judy–Rainy here, too. :) I might need to make some tea, since I’m past my coffee limit today already.

      Honestly, I’d rarely leave my house if it weren’t for my children. My older child is going to be leaving for college this year and I’m going to have to make a point of slipping out to write more. I’m getting hermititis…

  7. Personnaly, I love working from home. I am an ermit, I think lol… but occasionally, I like to take my laptop and go to the coffee shop or to a quiet restaurant where I “produce” differently over a cup of coffee or a hot bowl of soup with the people’s humming in the background. I think it depends on the level of solitude each of us like… and the level of discipline also. I enjoyed reading you… thank you!

    1. Amyah–Do you find you’re usually more on-task away from home? I usually get a lot more done, in shorter time, when I’m in public. And I think you’re right about the solitude. I can like it too much! But my characters will suffer for it if I don’t try to get out more than I’d like to.

  8. I’ve done the day job from my library at home. It’s fine. It is different than writing.

    I talk to people in the day job. I make calls, sit on conference calls, host colleagues or clients in my home library. I’m involved with human contact. Only my physical location has changed. My day job is different than most though and I’ve spent a lifetime to make it that way.

    Writing. Wow.

    I’m a hermit. I shun socialization then feel lonely. and isolated. I get frustrated, walk around the house muttering. get another cup of coffee. Pet the dog. Force myself back in the chair to write. Feel like it is Sunday night and the essay is due tomorrow (which it is).

    I don’t know how to handle a transition to a point where my job is to write and count the money. I need a routine (which I can self-impose) but the in-person interaction is a worry. If I’m not forced to socialize, I don’t. It becomes a vicious cycle.

    Probably academic, anyway. Not too likely to stop the day job until I’m dead.

    I’m worried I might not have the maturity to handle the social separation I profess to desire. Sounds like a character: not sure their wants are what they can handle.

    Great piece. Loved the essay. Tough stuff.

    1. Jack–That’s interesting, isn’t it…and a refrain I’m hearing below, too. Maybe we can do day jobs at home, but creative work can be more challenging to do there.

      I love, love, love being alone. Until…it distracts me or until I can’t come up with a new character because I haven’t seen people for a while. I mean, people *up close*. People in other cars in a carpool line don’t count.

      Fortunately, I live in the South (you’re familiar with life down here), so even errand running means interaction because strangers are very, very chatty. As long as I’m open to chatting (and I’ve learned that I need to be) then I’ll get some interaction while picking up eggs and milk at the store.

      But still, 99% of my interaction with others is because of my children’s activities. And this is an almost-18 year old and a 13 year old, so they’re away more often than not. So my husband and I have been transitioning to doing more stuff, the two of us…out. And it’s a hassle because I’m the planner and I must make the plans. But we always enjoy the dinner with live jazz or the hilarious play on “pay what you can night” at the theater in uptown Charlotte, or the wine tasting at the local wine bar. So I just need to clearly suck it up and just make reservations for stuff and push past the hermit thing I’ve got going on. Lots of characters out there to meet.

  9. Elizabeth, I liked your home truths about working from home. They resonated with me. I have a regular job in spite of which I manage to write most of my blog posts and the fiction stories I’m working on during lunch hour or any free time I can squeeze in. It’s not possible at home where my worry is not so much distraction as procrastination.

    1. Prashant–Procrastination is a natural occurrence at home! I know what you mean. I think, honestly, when we’re super-busy (like you are at work), we sometimes get more done because of that narrow window…like writing stories and blog posts on lunch hours.

  10. Best Beloved and I have worked from home for almost a decade. Except for the 2 years where we worked from other people’s homes because we were nomadic house-sitters all over the US and Canada.

    Our Little One has never known a time when Mommy or Daddy “went to work.” She’s learned that if someone is on the phone, she’s quiet, and waits to ask for things. She sets her own timers for her chores so she rarely needs to be reminded. For a 10-year-old to do that takes training, which pays off down the road (where we are now.)

    I have a private writing office downstairs; Steven King’s “office with a door” that he writes about. When I’m in product mode, that’s where I do it. No phone, no distractions, no one will ever knock on the door unless it’s a true emergency (my older kids were taught the meaning of that word, too: if you see blood or flames, that’s an emergency.)

    Best Beloved needs to do a better job of putting up a sign when she’s in Do Not Disturb mode. I’m a world class interrupter. I used to have an actual DND sign when she and I shared an office with two of our grown children.

    Noise cancelling headphones are on my wish list. Something nice from Bose. More than one friend tells me they’ve saved the $300 investment many times over in saved time, increased production, and reduced stress.

    Learning to shut off distractions is huge. Setting expectations. Saying “no” every time it’s the right answer. Asking for help. Delegating, which takes training (see notes above about our Little One.)

    The past 2 years we’ve taken on half a dozen subcontractors to help with both our businesses. We’ve always hired people before we could really afford it (as in, we had to hustle for the money, not take it out of savings) but for the past two years while we’ve paid out more to vendors and subcontractors than ever before, we’ve also brought in greater profits than ever before.

    Getting help is probably the most-overlooked tool for those who work from home. We see it as DIY and forget that you can’t DIAY (Do It ALL Yourself.)

    1. Joel–I think you could write a cozy mystery series involving a couple who are nomadic house-sitters. :)

      Children are trainable! I definitely believe this. My kids have always been great, as long as I shared with them that I needed to work for ___ time. Communication is key for that. If we don’t tell them when we can’t be disturbed…we’re going to get disturbed. I’m about to have 8 teenage boys in my house playing video games during this teacher workday. I will hole up in my room. :) I like your office with a door! This house is an open floor plan and aside from the bedrooms there really *aren’t* any doors. (Note to self: next house, buy something with doors.)

      I’m a little worried that the noise canceling headphones would mean I couldn’t hear *anything*…like maybe the smoke detector or the doorbell or something. Of course, that’s really the whole point, isn’t it? Well, aside from the smoke detector maybe.

      Very good point about subcontracting out. I do that for accounting, editing, covers, formatting….and occasionally for housework. Never underestimate the power of a maid service at $75 for 3 hours. :)


        Ahem. Yes, housework takes a lot of time and the results are invisible if it’s done right. We haven’t hired in cleaning help yet, but it’s on our horizon. Around here we can probably get a half-day’s work done for $25 and look generous doing it.

        Alarms and sirens are intentionally engineered to overcome the capabilities of noise-cancelling devices. I’ll ask about that, though; maybe encourage some testing among my writer friends who use them.

        1. Joel–We’ve all got way too many book ideas! I’m trying to stop myself. I’ve gotten to the point where everything seems like a story!

          Sheesh, that’s a good deal for $25. The only problem is having people in the house. I’m not at the point where anyone working in my house sort of blends into the background. So if I have a housekeeper here or a furnace repair guy here or the plumber…I need to be doing promo or something because I’m just not as creative.

          Some sirens have strobe lights, I think. I’d like to believe my corgi would come up, barking, to inform me something was happening. I think she would.

  11. I loved this. So true. I get interruptions all day long. Husband in and out, dogs in and out, all of them making noise. I love my noise-cancelling headphones – a gift from heaven! I do best when sticking to an adaptable schedule. But then days like yesterday – a trip to the ER that took 8 hours out of my day. But all is OK, so that’s what matters most.

  12. I totally hear you. I am far more productive when I’m out of the house, working at a place that doesn’t tempt me with the laundry that should get done or the refrigerator contents I could study several times a day.

    Even if I had the opportunity, I think I’d still work outside of the house…for at least part of the day.

    1. Loni–The contents of the fridge! Yes! I’ve gotten so that I just take a picture of the stuff in the fridge so I won’t stand there, staring blankly, and let all the cold air out. Helps me at the store, too, remember what we’re out of and what we’ve still got. Is that a little crazy? I wonder about myself sometimes. I’m glad there’s another fridge-starer out there. :)

  13. I spent a lot of years out there in big offices full of people, so I treasure the ability to work at home. It would be a lot tougher if I still had small kids, but those days are in the past. Yes, social media is a distraction and so is my demanding Katie Cat, but if I don’t do the writing I intend to do this week (before I head for coffee with a friend or out to lunch with my husband), it’s no one’s fault but my own. I need to just do it!

    1. Patricia–I don’t know, I think my cats are more distracting than my children! They have this way of sitting on keyboards that my children won’t do… :)

      And you’re so right–we can’t really blame the *house* when it’s clearly something about *us* that isn’t getting our stuff done.

  14. I grew up on a farm, so have been used to the idea of “working from home” since childhood. I’m also deaf, and have always had to be an entrepreneur of some sort, hiring myself. Since I did so without ever having much capital to invest in my businesses, this of course meant working from home.

    Writing is perfect for me. I do like socializing–up to a point, but can go as long as a week or two at a time without interacting with other humans and be just fine with it. I do love having cat around, as they tend to sit on my desk as I work, but the DH is allergic to them, more’s the pity. He often fears I’m going to replace him with a cat.

    Our house is quite small, but there are four places suitable for writing, two of the bedrooms, the dining area, and the garden studio, which is only accessible through the garage. I am using the smallest, snuggest bedroom, the one DH finds the stuffiest, and therefore is totally unlikely to make a move to co-opt it for his own use. (Yes, he works from home, as well.) He rotates between the other three spaces, being of a more restless nature. Fine by me. I have a door I can shut, hearing aids I can turn off.

    The coffee shops within walking distance in this town are not nearly as conducive to work as my little office. The library is usually full up. Here at home I have really good coffee that I can actually afford, a clean bathroom, healthy lunch and snack choices, secure Internet service, and of course my Lucky Bamboo, various reference books, art, warmth in the winter and a garden in the summer. There are different chairs to sit in to change position, as well as a standing option. There is a little hot pad next to the keyboard to keep my coffee mug warm. There is a treadmill in the other spare bedroom in case of inclement weather. The weather is usually inclement.

    Discipline is still key to productivity. I get up as early as I can, anywhere between five and six-thirty most days, and tiptoe quietly to make coffee and drink two big glasses of water, which I find helps me wake up faster. Then I hole up in my office (still in robe or slippers or perhaps a track suit) to write as much as I can before DH gets up. Once he’s up, I can get at my closet to get dressed, and I always, without fail, wear clothing suitable for running errands, usually jeans and a sweater, but have been known to wear a dress or skirt. I do my hair. I put on lipstick. I have breakfast, which is peanut butter on a rice cake, always. None of these things require thinking, which is good. While eating breakfast I read the local paper online, plus emails and Facebook, the latter a useful way to keep up with both friends and family, and my many RSS feeds, including the one for this blog. Sometimes I will even respond to them. Then I pour another coffee and get back to work.

    I try to avoid scheduling appointments and errands in the morning hours, as those are my most productive. But given the chance, I will put in ten-hour days, because writing is what I like to do best. I also take care of the laundry, the errands, the grocery shopping, the cooking, social engagements, bookkeeping, gardening, car maintenance, email my elderly mother, and occasionally babysit my granddaughter.

    Of course, being a writer means being able to forgive–yourself and others. Life happens, schedules get messed up, deadlines missed. Just get back up and continue.

    The key, I think, is to bloom where you’re planted. Decide what it is you’re going to do, and how to do it in the life you have, not the life you wish you had. Then get on with it.

    And then a funny thing happens–you find you actually are living the life you wanted.

    1. Meg–That’s cool that you’ve really always *had* the work at home mentality and that you’ve been able to make it work so well for you. I love my routines, which I guess is my lazy form of discipline…like you, I go through all the motions every morning without even really thinking about them. Get dressed, let the dog out/get the paper, pour some coffee, put the kids’ water bottles for lunch into the freezer. I’m amazed at your 10 hour days of writing–you’re going to get so much done with that mindset. I love the writing, but writing is also stressful for me now that I have readers…I tend to worry a lot about how they’ll like my stories and if I can keep putting out good quality for them.

      I’m allergic to cats, too. :) I just live with it! Lots of allergy medicine here.

      I like the part about forgiving yourself and others. I think I need to work on that. Very nice message–you’ve got me thinking!

  15. This post is so timely. Today alone I had two dog “emergencies”, a chattering husband, a propane man that wouldn’t shut up, either, and a phone that would not stop ringing. It’s 2 p.m. and all I’ve got done was update my page in the blog and go through my emails. No, working from home is NOT ideal. What IS my ideal is to build a Writer Retreat tree-house far back on my land, with only an intercom that can turned off and a big sign on the door that says, “Muse And Writer At Work– Do Not Disturb The Flow”

    1. Sue–Hope the dogs are better now! I’m like you…once the day starts going then the writing time is really squeezed in if there are other people in the house. Can I have a tree house, too? :)

      Writer Alan Orloff had the best sign on the door for his children: “Please come in so that we can discuss chores.” Apparently, it kept disturbances curtailed dramatically…ha!

  16. I face all these issues too. I find that writing first thing is so important and setting boundaries with the family is important too. Great post.

  17. Oh, I am right there with you on this! One thing I’ve learned is I’m more productive when I head to my office (upstairs) and work. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe it’s physical (I have a great office chair, L-shaped desk and organized space). I don’t know, but it makes a big difference!

  18. Elizabeth–
    In terms of today’s topic, all I’m sure of is that the absence of stimulation is crucial for me to get any serious writing done (I mean serious to me, not necessarily to anyone else). That’s a large part of why working from home–to use your phrase–is such an advantage.

    1. Barry–So, for you, home is really more of a refuge and a place where you *aren’t* as stimulated when you’re out in public. I like to hear polar opposite stories…thanks, Barry. I can see where that would be the case for a lot of people.

      1. Elizabeth-
        I should have made myself more clear. The nest is empty, the children and their children live at some distance, we’re long retired, and our friends are all obsessed with grandchildren. This means my wife and I are by ourselves without much in the way of “complications.” Such an environment has nothing to do with home life for busy, family-centric writers like you. it’s part of the reason I marvel at your amazing organizational skills.

  19. Yes, and as I read fiction for my podcast, I find that the “home” thing can get even crazier. I keep getting myself ahead of schedule, and then stuff happens to set me back.

    I do think, though, that it helps to invest (time and/or money) in your workspace. Dean Wesley Smith, for instance, controls his internet use by having a separate computer for internet and for work. I found that going out to Taco Bell to write went a whole lot better when I had the right kind of device to work on. (I love my netbook, but it doesn’t have good ergonomics — so an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard works better for me.)

    1. Camille–I remember that you thought Taco Bell was a good place to work. And interesting thoughts on the ergonomics of a netbook or any other small computer. I have this huge, clunky laptop (I wanted an extra-large screen and very specific keys for typing…raised, delineated) , but it works really well for me and my back and carpal tunnel issues (if I use it where I’m supposed to! Not sitting on the sofa or on a bed).

      I’ve learned that getting ahead of schedule is really, really bad for me and my motivation level!

  20. Thank you for your comments on writing from home. I sit at work thinking about the window in my office and wishing I had more time. My children and I refer to my office as the “treehouse”. It is a little room at the top of the house filled with pictures, books, ideas . . . tiny bottles of glitter to attract passing fairies . . . old keys that might open secret doors. It is the only place I can really call my own at this point. However, when I do have time to sit at my desk looking out the window, I spend most of it daydreaming about the stories I’d like to write. In actuality, I get most of my writing done in snatches on the train, waiting at the dentist office, picking up kids . . . I can’t tell you how relieved I am to find a community that talks about writing in 20 minutes snatches. I have been waiting for a perfect setting instead of realizing my writerly life is in moments. Thank you thank you thank you!

    1. Heather–Your writing space sounds amazing! I like that it was created to be a creative, inspirational space.

      I do *all* of my writing in 20 minute or fewer snatches of time unless I’ve completely messed up and am right on top of a deadline for my publisher. I started out writing in 15 minutes because my now-13 year old was 1 and would watch Sesame Street for that long at once. Then I moved to 15-20 during dead time…waiting rooms, carpool lines. Then both kids were in school and I found I *couldn’t* write in longer spates of time…I was too easily distracted. So, for me, the Pomodoro method works really well.

      I also get a lot done in *5 minute* periods. Here are a couple of posts where I talk about my progress with that (and, if you’re like me, 5 minute bits of dead time come up very frequently). Post one, post two on lists and short periods of time. I’ve written all my books this way. :) For some of us, it’s the only way to write books.

      1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Wonderful advice. I have felt rather guilty now that I think of it for not having an hour to put my thoughts together so I don’t use those five minutes of space that might actually allow personal writing. There was a day during the winter holidays when I had an entire day to work — and I accomplished nothing. I spent a great deal of time thinking. I realized that long periods of time may not be right for me. I never thought of five minutes . . . I could do this on my phone with Google Drive!!!!!!!!

        1. Heather–I use Google Drive every day. :) I make sure to upload my character list sheet (complete with descriptions), my outline, and my manuscript up there. I also have a hard copy of the outline that I keep in my purse or car.

          1. Elizabeth, do you have past blogs explaining your process for outlines? Once you have an outline complete, how much do you expect it to change? Do characters still surprise you?

            1. Heather–I sure do. Most recent post is a guest spot I did for Writer Unboxed on outlining. I also went into it in this post. I was extremely resistant to outlining, so it’s a process that I’ve had to iron out to make it work for me. If it’s not flexible enough, I won’t write the book (honestly…I’ll just stall completely out). I allow myself to deviate from the outline and change characters, murderers, victims…whatever works for the story. Hope this helps!

              1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Very helpful. I will look into this! Sometimes I feel outlining is like trying to plan what will happen in my family minute by minute for the next year.

                1. Heather–For me, the rougher the outline, the better I perform. So it’s just the story highlights, as I perceive them–the point of each scene. Sometimes it’s even easier to work backwards from the ending. Once you’ve done a couple of outlines, they’re much easier than, say, the family budget…ha! I’ve just finished creating a family budget for the year and it took me three days working 3-4 hours each day (going off of the last 3 months of spending, in various categories). The outlines, though, take me about 2 2-hour days. :)

  21. I am so happy that I can be at home. I was never happy in an office setting. And I find the distractions in a coffee shop way to hard to ignore. I find myself listening to conversations and watching the interactions rather than working on my own stuff. I need quiet to write. But I have to get the tasks done first: laundry, groceries, etc.

  22. I don’t like working from home, most of the time. I enjoy being in a big office with lots of people to discuss with, and eating lunch and drinking coffee with cool people >:)

  23. Back when my kids were still at home, I had a sign stuck on my home office door that said “Writing in Progress. Pour Your Own Beer.” It worked more or less. The problem was my children did not think of writing as “work” so I still got my time taken up with questions and situations.

    Now my kids are grown and I work a full-time, out-in-the-world job which will be ending in about two years when I retire. Again, I will have to make peace working at home, but this time alone. I already run away to my local coffee house and library on weekends to get work done and to keep from becoming a complete weekend recluse.

    I’ve learned a lot from your article. Thank you.

    1. Mindy–You know, I think it can take a long time for a family to think of writing as work. I know just what you mean.

      And at least you know you have places you can run to when you need more stimulation than the house can offer….and fewer distractions. :)

  24. Hi Elizabeth,

    Working more than full time as a small business owner (out of the house), I find it a hard balance fitting in writing and publishing. I have found, rather than taking more time away from the family, I write in the family room surrounded by them. I use an iPad mini (sometimes with a keyboard) and can write anywhere. I am, however, more productive once everyone falls asleep.

    I also would like to say thanks for all you do. I just pubbed my 1st book and I listed your blog as one of my three favourites in the acknowledgements. You are a big help and an inspiration to all your followers. Thanks.


    1. Silas–Yes, so much easier when no one is awake! I do that too, but it’s at the beginning of the day, not the end. And thanks so much for the kind words! I appreciate that. Congratulations on the book! Great cover.

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