Get up when you want. Wear what you want. Do what you want. Working from home is awesome, right?! Well yeah, it is, especially if your normal working day is an office job, and you get to spend the occasional day at home privately reading/researching/catching up with stuff. That’s quite nice. But on a full-time freelance basis, there’s a bit of a flip side to working from home.
Essentially, it can create instant lazy habits. Sleep in, wear your PJs all day, not leave the house, not speak to anyone, surf the internet, watch TV, eat breakfast at lunch, eat lunch at dinner, surf the internet, watch TV, play PlayStation (hey, it’s research!) and then maybe, MAYBE, get some writing done by 1am. Go to bed, knackered, and sleep in the next morning, and follow the same semi-non-productive routine as the day before.
If this semi-non-productive routine works for you, then great, but there are better ways to get things done. Some writers build sheds in their back gardens, bespoke to their writing needs. This provides a cosy setting away from the familiarity (and family chaos) of the house, complete with WiFi connection and all writer mod cons. I think they cost around £7,000, all nicely fitted out, but your mileage may vary (and indeed, you may not have room for a shed). (If a shed option sounds expensive, then it’s around £2,000 a year to rent an office space, so the shed should start paying for itself after a few years.)
I’ve been working from home since 2000. That’s 17 years! I never found it a problem. But that was because I lived in London, and moved flats twice between 2000-2005. And living in the capital, I still had the flexibility to hop into Soho, attend networking events, and not feel like such a recluse. I moved to Bournemouth in 2006, and thus began my longest spell of working from home, in the same place, day in, day out. But again, I never found it a problem.
However, everything changed when I made Origin in 2009/2010. The exciting interaction of filmmaking, and being a director, and being surrounded by so many creative/fab people, opened up a whole new side to my creative cravings. After production finished, I was far more restless at home. I wanted interaction, I wanted a change of scene. I wanted the psychological divide of calling it day and ‘coming home’ rather than simply putting the computer to sleep, sloping downstairs and trying to chill out but still have thoughts churning about work.
I started to mix it up a little. My local libraries in Poole and Bournemouth are neat havens, especially Bournemouth, although modern libraries now can be noisier than a local cafe, especially with children’s hour. And mobile phones! On one particular occasion, some gobshite sat in the middle of the library and went through every ringtone on his new phone, trying to select which one to use. AGONY! Local cafes can provide a nice alternative. A bit more of an enjoyable/acceptable buzz, depending on who’s in there and what’s playing on the speakers (please Caffe Nero, no more jazz). But even a library/cafe combo can be frustrating as there’s no guarantee of the mix and noise that you’re going to experience.
For a while that was my routine – home, library and various cafes. Then I joined a creative co-working space (Nest Space), using their facilities two days a week. This was great for pre-production on Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg, as we were able to hold auditions and rehearsals there. But when Nest closed its doors (alas), I was back to working from home. But a new routine emerged because of my ongoing partnership with Tim, and the new ventures we’re trying to carve for ourselves. So it’s a nice mix again, complete with all the necessary social interaction (I highly recommend a writers’ lunch at least once a fortnight).
Working from home is awesome but it takes a special kind of personality to fully immerse yourself in it 24/7, 365.