Working at home works great for work. Not so much for creativity.
About a year ago, my supervisor asked if I wouldn’t mind giving up my cubicle on the fourth floor of an office park building about 30 minutes from home.
I didn’t put up any kind of fight. I packed my laptop and an extra monitor, drove home, and converted a corner of our upstairs bonus room into my workspace.
So much to love about this arrangement:
- No commute. Great gas savings and reduced wear and tear on my car.
- Relative autonomy while remaining connected to co-workers via email and Slack.
- Freedom to care for our infant daughter in the mornings during the week, saving us money on child care.
I don’t have trouble focusing on work. Never have. Back in 1994, I launched a regional edition of The St. Petersburg Times from a spare bedroom in my house in Land O’Lakes, Fla. It took a few years to win approval for planting the flag with an actual strip mall bureau, so I already had plenty of work-from-home experience.
It’s not perfect, though.
One really challenging aspect of this arrangement: work brain never seems to turn off.
In the year since I started working from home, my creative productivity has plummeted. My work computer and personal computer sit on an L-shaped desk, inches apart, and yet – no matter the hour – 9 times out of 10, if I sit at this desk, my attention is turned to the work laptop and whatever the next thing is on my to-do list.
This week, I *finally* finished a roleplaying scene on OtherSpace that had been lingering for months. It wasn’t a crazy combat sequence, just characters talking to each other as part of a denouement for a crazy combat sequence that took just a couple of weeks to play out. That conversation scene? Started about a year ago.
I *did* manage several #bookstorewindow stories soon after the 20th anniversary of OtherSpace in June and July, but with the resurging obligations at work for product releases in August and October, I totally lost my creative focus and went into workbot machine mode.
I’m not sure how I’ll find balance. All I know for certain is that I must find that balance. I’m not getting any younger and the stories in my mind won’t just magically put themselves on a page. Scenes won’t run themselves on the Slack platforms.
I don’t suffer from the traditional kind of writer’s block where I can’t think of anything to write – I have a lot that I want to write, but I keep finding excuses to work instead.
It’s time to figure out how to compartmentalize my work obligations at home the way I could always compartmentalize my creative interests during work hours when I was at the office.