On Working From Home

I feel truly lucky to be giving this whole Working From Home thing a shot – really, I do. But… there is a downside to it all; a slippery slope of dangerous neglect, and I’m falling into way too many of those potentially negative behaviours. I knew this was a possibility likelihood because I know myself pretty well, and am always (well, mostly!) ready to own my sh*t. But I didn’t think it would happen so quicky, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the feelings of utter self-hatred that have arisen in me more often; every time I cut things fine with a deadline, for example; or each time I waste an entire day watching Fringe rather than working, and then work from 11pm until 7am to make up for it before crashing out in a mindless puddle.

I took myself in hand the other day and said: Something has to be done!

I read this awesome post by Catherynne M. Valente (gentle warning: there is language involved, just in case this is a problem), and I can relate to so, so much of what she says. This part:

…working at home can become a kind of hell where there is no division of anything in your life, just work that has bled over onto everything else.

And especially this:

But working at home, man, it can lead to some serious ruts when you don’t have kids to fix your schedule and your work is entirely predicated on future returns. If I start work at midnight, no one will think less of me! But then I will feel gross and shamed for weird internal reasons.

Yes! This is me, exactly. Okay, not all the time… but a lot of it. Too much of it. And, you know, maybe if I was happy to have that kind of non-schedule and was truly content with always being ‘on’ to some extent, then maybe it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s generally true that people naturally work better at certain times of the day, and I’m definitely someone who has always worked better at night. Still. The problems start when you’re actually feeling bad about yourself for doing those things, and not just because you’re worried about how other people might perceive your schedule absolute lack of discipline. Because I genuinely don’t care about that. If I choose to work at night and sleep in all morning, why should it matter to anyone else? As long as the work gets done – that’s what counts.

But as I said, I’m feeling unhappy about the way my ‘schedule’ has spiralled so badly out of control. Sure, my work does get done – I haven’t missed a deadline (yet). But I spend a lot of time procrastinating and then work in a crazy rush of energy at the last minute. This really does mirror the way I was all the way back in school. My mum reminds me of this; of how I would stay up late into the night – well into the early hours – revising for exams or getting an essay finished the night before it was due… How this was just the way I worked from a very young age. Still, it doesn’t mean I can’t change it – and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want to change this pattern. I am pretty tired of it and I know it can’t be all that ‘healthy’ for me. Some nights I get 4 hours sleep and others it’s more like 10, and then I wonder why I feel so zombified all the time.

It’s not pretty, you know? 😉

So really, I think this is just a public way of keeping myself accountable. To say: I’m going to work on this and get some kind of schedule together. I am totally willing to admit that I’m not so good with schedules, which is why working from home does suit me. But perhaps I can come up with something that’s a compromise of sorts. I need to think about it some more. I do need to make changes, though, especially as my workload increases – there’s so much more to being a writer than just, you know, writing. I want my career to be a long and successful one, and I think one way of helping that to happen is to create a more healthy working environment.

More on this another time; for now, it’s back to the Revision Cave. Have a great weekend!

‘Zombie Girl’ image credit: © Ruslanchik | Dreamstime.com

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22 Responses to On Working From Home

  1. Harriet says:

    Great post. It really mirrors how I feel about writing. I work better at night, too, and my parents and friends tease me with “turning into a vampire” remarks all the time. It really shouldn’t matter how or when we get the work done. But we’re accountable to all the work ourselves. We can’t blame a co-worker (I’ve never done this, lol), and we can’t blame that marathon of the Vampire Diaries we just HAD to watch. If we’re not actually writing, well, we’re at least thinking about it!

    Good luck with it anyway! 🙂

    • Kaz says:

      Thanks. I’ve had those “vampire” remarks, too! 🙂

      Oh yeah… I think about writing all the time. heh. *shifty eyes*

  2. Dan-Phi says:

    So you’re working on a book set near Boston, right? And what time zone is Boston in? So so schedule isn’t all that crazy, it’s just part of getting in the right mood.
    See how easy that was? 🙂

  3. I often worry that’s the same problem I’d fall into if I ever worked from home. Being on university schedule, whenever I have time off, I often stay up really late writing and then sleep late the next day, and then am still tired when I wake up so I watch tv or read, and then by mid-afternoon I feel bad about it so I write into the middle of the night again.

    Of course, in my defense, being tired does come with the territory of being in university 😛

    • Kaz says:

      Sounds like we’re on a similar schedule. Well, more like a similar pattern of behaviour – and, yes, I can totally see that university just makes it all that much harder!

  4. Carolin says:

    This is so me. Though I also have uni in the way. I desperately need a better schedule, because right now writing kind of falls along the wayside in my endless procrastination and I’m pissing myself off.

    *Wonders how to change*

    • Kaz says:

      It’s so easy to fall into that procrastination/beating-yourself up/procrastination cycle. Ugh.

      If you figure it out before *I* do, please let me know… 😉

  5. Isabel says:

    Oooh, I just was just reading through the comments and… Boston??? That’s where I live! I know you guys in England are about 5 hours ahead of us.

    I also work better at night, but for me, it’s fine. After all, I’m eleven and in school, so I don’t always have time during the day to write unless it’s a weekend and then there’s homework. I honestly don’t know what advice to give you besides, well… good luck!!!

  6. Isabel says:

    Yesterday I went to the cinema with my mom to see the new Jane Eyre movie. It was a really excellent interpretation. I’ve seen another Jane Eyre movie before, but that’s when I was, like, eight, and this one was far more powerful plus I could understand it more. Hehe, I was basically the only kid watching that movie in the entire theater. Kids these days don’t like these kinds of things. *Sigh* Have you read Jane Eyre/watched a movie of it/know the story? (Well, who DOESN’T know the story, at least. And a writer at that! Hehe.)

    • Kaz says:

      Jane Eyre is my favourite book. Seriously. I read it for the first time when I was 11 and have read it SO many times in my life.

      I’m definitely going to see the new movie, but in all honesty I’ve often found film versions to not do it justice. The story is huge, and most films end up cutting too much, simply because an average movie is 2 hours. The versions I’ve liked best are TV mini-series, because then there’s more scope to tell the full story. I have two favourites – one very old (I saw it when I was about your age, I think) and one much more recent. Both awesome.

      • Isabel says:

        I haven’t read the book (I plan to, though!) so I can’t really say this, but I’m quite sure that this movie does do it justice. It was amazing, really, and the acting was SO good. But I still haven’t read the book, so I’ll leave that up to you 🙂

  7. ThisViewOfMine says:

    It looks like spring storms are back.
    Ugh. >_> I had wrote a long msg a moment ago but while i was still in the process of finishing it the damn power blinked out. – Im to annoyed at the moment to re-type it all. But it was about going from being in public school to homeschooled and the ruts ive put myself in.

    They are deep btw.

    I am working on them.

    Oh, and referring to staying up late, I’ve been called an owl. Vampires are SO over rated. ;P

    • Kaz says:

      Oh noes! I’m sorry you lost your comment. That’s so frustrating… *sigh*

      But thanks for commenting. Ruts are very common to all of us, I suppose. Sometimes, half the battle is recognising them – we need to do that before we can work on them, anyway.

      My mum calls me a night owl. 🙂

  8. Neil says:

    Yo Mahoney, what’s all this about! Your feeling bad for living your dream, you do realise that don’t you 😉

    Now you know as well as I, that you have a fabulous group of friends around you which I am hopefully a part of, that you may not see for ages, but when you do there is no bitterness or hurt at your seclusion. I know I’m always ready with a hug and a few saucy jokes 😉 so if your feeling like your neglecting your friends or not being as social as possible DON’T because all your friends love and support who you are and what you are accomplishing with everyday of your life:)

    Onto the night work thing! For one, the only time I have had any trouble with the whole Vampire/Zombie/ are you on drugs harrasment, with working all night, and sleeping in a darkened room during the day, is when I am with incredibly non artistic people, especially my parents, and non artistic partners! Now as much as we know they love us, encourage us, and know us, unless they are artistic themselves they will never fully understand who we are as an artistic person, and that is fact. You can even have a couple of artists in a relationship and they will end up living seperate lives, look at Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, they even have seperate living spaces in the same house!

    Now as you know I am of the overly artistic mindset, and have often been found with different parts of my body in various artistic pies (oooer) which includes writing YA fiction, and fashion design. Now having done two degrees in fashion design and having lived communally over the years (I am not a hippie nor have I been in a cult btw! well okay maybe one, but the leader was like really cute!) with various artistic types I can tell you, and this has been scientifically researched as well, that artistic types always, ALWAYS! do their best work at night. I know for a fact that I have been able to produce more work, and oddly better quality work in the wee hours than I have been able to in 14 hours of the day (This also includes cutting and sewing a fully lined tailored menswear jacket from midnight to 6am!!) now this has nothing to do with panic, although all artistic types can need a little push as we are an incredibly introspective and insular breed, but, and this may be the artist in me here, I believe we all work better at night because the night is the time of dreaming, and I think in someway artists tap into this, and we dream wide awake! After all isn’t that what any work of fiction, painting, sculpture, music, fashion, dance is? They are our dreams and imagination given form for the world to experience, and identify with.

    Anyway keep up the amzing, fantastic, brilliant work, and I will see/speak/email you soon.

    Neil xXx

    • Kaz says:

      Neil… I don’t know what to say! You just wrote me a blog post as a blog comment! haha!! This is longer than most of my blog posts even ARE. 😉

      But thank you very much for the kind words. Seriously, I appreciate it, even if this is a lame reply. The thing is, if I try to reply to everything… I might as well just write ANOTHER post, because that’s how long it would take me. Heh.


  9. Renee Sweet says:

    I’m pretty hemmed in by my Day Job schedule so I don’t have any Words of Wisdom(tm) to share. 🙁 But… what if you try to sketch out a loose (I stress this: LOOSE) schedule for yourself that works with your natural biorhythms? Clearly it won’t work for you to schedule yourself to the minute and to assign yourself hard-and-fast blocks of time during the day to write, etc. But what if you try to… I don’t know… allot bands of time to types of tasks, in keeping with the times of day you’re most likely to do those things naturally. Like: “morning” is for sleeping, “afternoon” is for errands and/or pleasure (e.g., Fringe), “evening” is for socializing and/or business (e.g., events, blogging, emails), “night” is for writing. Or whatever works for you. Maybe…?

    • Mardel says:

      I love Renee’s idea. I was going to advise something similar, a loose schedule that has you writing in the nights… I like the whole approach to a general time zone. If you need hours written down, then use something like 11 to 2, or 3 a.m.

      But Renee’s ideas make a lot of sense, and if I didn’t have to work, that’s what I would be doing. Sleeping in the mornings, waking up in the afternoons (waking of for me entails a few hours of coming to concsiousness, letting the pain meds start to work) and nights for fun and reading for me. haha – I have issues.

      But Kaz, this whole self-hatred thing has to stop. HAS. TO. STOP. When ever you feel like that, stop what you’re doing and take a breath. Geez, you’ve been writing and blogging and doing all these things. I like that you’re acknowledging that you’r feelings are a need to reach out – they are. They are also a warning to you from you. Stop, and take a breath and enjoy what you’ve accomplished so far, and realize that you’re doing a good job. You might be one of those people that need the adrenaline rush to feel like you’re able to finish something -but try to make this happen for you on a smaller scale. And listen to ‘Renee, she’s obviously a smart and pramatic person.

      Take care, and big hugs

      • Kaz says:

        Dear Mardel,

        You know how awesome I think you are, right?

        I don’t always hate myself for this stuff… I think it’s more frustration with myself. That’s probably the right word. I just wanted to acknowledge it aloud.

        Also, I feel so lucky to have this opportunity – to really build a career doing something I love – there’s a sort of inbuilt pressure that comes with it. Maybe it’s pressure I put on myself, but I still feel it. Like, I mustn’t waste this chance, you know? It took me so many years to actually get here.

        Anyway. Thank you. I really appreciate your kind and practical words. 🙂


    • Kaz says:

      I think a loose schedule is probably the way to go – something where I’m blocking out those sections of the day. Or… I thought of maybe doing 4-hour blocks of time.

      I need to do that, though, because no matter how ‘natural’ it feels for me to cram stuff into intense periods (like I did Saturday, Sunday, Monday just now), it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. I’m exhausted today! Heh. 🙂

      Thanks, darling.

  10. Isabel says:

    Karen, I started reading The Iron Witch today. You have an amazing writing voice and the plot line is already very interesting, even though I am only on page 7. I also love the cover <3

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