Why Writing at Home Won’t Work

You would think that working from home is a writer’s dream. Going into the “office” anytime of day, wearing pajamas or sweats or a costume, drinking your own favorite coffee, locating your workspace wherever you want, ideally in front of a picture window that looks over a forest thick with trees and birds and romping deer, as the sun rises (or sets) and one’s imagination runs free and stories spring forth and flow like a river of melting snow . . .

Yeah, right . . .

7:00 I’m up and in the kitchen making coffee. So far I’m on schedule and ready to go. I have the entire day ahead of me – hours of uninterrupted creativity. I pour my coffee and head to the kitchen table where my laptop awaits. I push the button, and the screen springs to life. “Fifty-three new emails,” it says. Mostly trash, as usual. Click-delete, click-delete, click-del . . . wait, what’s this? Clearance sale on Zappos – one quick peek . . .

8:30 (ish) After shoe shopping, I decide to get dressed and eat something. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and besides, a hungry writer is a distracted writer. I pour milk on top of my corn flakes and take a bite – bleech! Ugh – sour milk! I empty the milk carton and throw out my now-ruined cereal. Forget breakfast. I have to get to work.

9:00 on the nose: I sit, again, in front of my computer, open a new word document, type a temporary title, and save as . . . What is that out there on the lawn? A flock of birds eating my grass seed? I jump up and run outside with the hose to scare them off. That’ll show you! I holler. Since I’m now outside with the hose running, I decide to sprinkle the lawn. And water the pots, pull a few weeds, and . . . oh my, look at that gorgeous pink rose! I should put it in a bud vase on my desk to inspire my work. I go inside to get my gardening shears. I rummage through several drawers to find them and go back outside to snip the lovely rose. Then I prune the rest of the bush. And the bush next to it.

10:15 (ish): I am back at my desk/kitchen table with my fragrant rose, fresh cup of coffee, and a piece of buttered toast. I begin to type, and I’m making progress, and I laugh at my own wit, and . . . oh geez, Lucy’s crying. Lucy is my oldest of four Boxers. She’s almost blind, so if the water bowl isn’t filled to the top, she thinks it’s empty. At least that’s what I think she thinks. I go into the laundry room, and poor Lucy is standing by a half-full water bowl. I fill it to the top and put it right under her nose. She drinks. I pat her on the head, turn, and . . . when did the laundry basket get full? I’ll just throw in a quick load. I push “start” on the wash machine, and my three male Boxers barrel through the dog door, tracking in mud and whatever else is stuck to their paws. I do a quick mop-up with paper-towels and then wipe their paws – all twelve of them.

Noon (almost): I’m back at the computer with a diet coke and a bag of chips. My fingers are poised over the keys, and I am about to type when the phone rings. I won’t answer. Whoever it is will leave a message. Besides, I have a caller-ID so if it’s really important . . . it’s my mother . . . don’t ever ignore your mother, because it could be an emergency. Hello? It’s not an emergency. We talk about the weather, the roast she made for dinner last night, the bedspread that cost a fortune and now she hates it, the letter she received from the insurance company explaining why . . .

I don’t even look at the clock because I don’t want to know. I have finished my diet coke and need to pee. My dogs follow me into the bathroom, because that’s what dogs do. Since I’m so close to the laundry room, I go there next and move the clean clothes into the dryer. Then I fill the water dish for Lucy and fold a stack of towels. I take them into my bathroom and remember to brush my teeth. I wash my face, too. I don’t need to put on make-up since I’m working from home today, but maybe a little just in case . . .

From 2:10 to 2:40 I work without interruption. I make good progress until there’s a knock on the front door.  I pretend I’m not home. Another knock. I answer the door. The UPS driver smiles at me. He’s cute, and I’m glad I put on make-up. I carry the box back to the kitchen. It’s for my husband, so I don’t open it. I go back to work. I wonder what’s in that box. I call my husband. He doesn’t answer so I leave a voice mail asking if he is expecting something important. Then I eat a granola bar, drink some water, and go to the bathroom again, dogs in tow . . .

3:00: Working from home is not working. Eight hours and I’ve written one paragraph, barely. I pack my laptop, get my jacket, find my keys, and make a to-go cup of coffee. On my way out the back door, I see that my rain gutters are full of leaves. I get the ladder and clear one section then berate myself for getting distracted.

4:00: I hide out in my favorite spot at the library and get to work. My cell phone buzzes – I ignore it. Girl nearby munches carrots – I ignore her. I need to use the bathroom – I run and go and come right back. I work for two and a half hours and write over 1000 words.

I could stay at the library and write several more hours, but I start to feel guilty. After all, I’ve been working all day, and I really ought to go home and get a few things done around the house.


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