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Writers, Create A Water Cooler Effect In Your Home Office

freelance writers work aloneThere are probably two major problems when writers transition from working for others to true freelancing. I define freelancing as working for yourself in an environment you choose. Often that environment is a home office or other spot where there aren’t any other people working around you.

The most obvious challenge is what I call discipline. It’s the ability not to go back to bed but to get up and do your freelance writing and marketing on a regular enough basis to earn a real living.

Less obvious, at least before you experience it, is dealing with loneliness when you’re on your own. Even if you had an office with a door and were able to be in that office without interruption for long periods of time, you knew all you had to do was walk out your door and you were immediately amongst people.

Almost every job, unless it’s a lookout from a remote fire tower, means you’re dealing with people a large part of your day. We humans are, of course, are social animals and working alone can be a shock.  Yet that aloneness is often exactly what’s required to get the very best writing done.

Prepare To Break Up Isolation

You’re best defense is to prepare for it in advance. Here are a few ideas that may help:

  • Friends who are available by phone and even in person during the day can be invaluable. Knowing you can reward yourself with a call to someone who supports your efforts goes a long way toward breaking up the loneliness. Planning to join someone at the coffee shop in a couple of hours gives you interaction to look forward to.
  • Find a workout partner. Knowing you’re going to workout with someone three days a week or so means you know you’ll be interacting with another human, even if it’s mostly grunts and groans while lifting weights or jogging on local trails. And if you’re not working out regularly, you probably should consider it. Staying healthy is part of the challenge.
  • Lunch with someone from your former place of employment will probably help you recognize you really don’t want to go back.
  • Working at a coffee shop or library can recreate the feeling you had at the office, which may help.
  • A trip to the store can make you feel less alone. It’s even better if you use it as a reward for the writing you’ve done.

Network With Other Writers

Networking with other writers, both in your area and out of your area is great. Ultimately you’ll probably find these contacts are the most helpful because they will know what you’re talking about when you whine, and when you celebrate.

The place to find other writers is at writers groups, readings, passing out your business card (You do have business cards don’t you?) and generally letting people know you’re looking for other writers.

Here are the main ways I interact with other writers:

  • I have four writer friends I know I can call or email when I need to connect with someone. Sure I have many more, but these four I count on and suspect they count on me.
  • I have an accountability meeting with one of these writers. We tell each other what we plan to do and what we’ve accomplished.
  • I meet with two writers monthly in a Mastermind Group. Not only does the group support me, just knowing they are their helps mitigate any feelings of isolation I might have.

Each of these ideas is sort of like creating a water cooler effect right where you are.

Of course, just the act of being alone and working, writing, over and over again means you’re practicing not only your writing skills but your ability to be alone. Many of us come to cherish that time.

How do you handle feelings of isolation?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Skype and Facebook have become my best friends, or should I say my contacts on there have. I have two very close friends on Skype and we keep a room open all day to chat and bounce ideas off of and that keeps me from being lonely. My computer is in my living room so I’m not isolated, although sometimes I wish I were since I’m usually right in the middle of anything happening. I have good friends that I keep in touch with through email and the phone and my family lives right down the street.

    I do miss the people I used to work with and my clients from the beauty shop, but I still am in contact with most of them. It can be an adjustment when you’ve spent your life working with the public to go to working from home, but I really like it and still love what I do and I think that makes all the difference. If I had to stay at home and do something I hated the loneliness would eat me up and I’d be miserable.
    Kathryn Pless recently posted..New Book by Maggie Shayne- Kill Me AgainMy Profile

  • I ususally don’t have feelings of isolation but when I do, I go out and do some shopping, take a nice walk or talk with my husband, who teaches undergraduate students online.

    Being a military spouse for many years also helped me to be independent and resourceful but like many, there are times when I have to escape isolation. I can also add, like some writers, I find I do my best work when I am isolated, for I am able to research and write for as long as I need.

    Good article…Thanks Anne..

    Toni Star recently posted..Check Out My Latest Book- The Twisted Life of Julia KnightMy Profile

  • I had a former boss who called me the Lone Wolf. I am a strange mix of one who likes being alone & can also be very social. I blame my parents. Don’t we always? 🙂 My Dad was the loner & my Mom is the social butterfly.

    I was living alone & working alone in San Diego where I lived for over 20 years. I have some long-time friendships there. As you know, Anne, I moved in with my Mom last year in Boise, ID after my Dad died.

    It has been an adjustment-the biggest being work where it reminds me of those office days of being constantly interrupted. I also don’t have local friends as I never get out socially. Thank God for social media.

    I have no local clients so I haven’t had much reason to network. This sounds really depressing, but honestly, I don’t feel lonely. I have made all kinds of virtual writer friends and that has been great.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Facebook and Other Social Media-Stop Thinking for UsMy Profile

  • I mostly don’t miss the watercooler scene…rapping with people you have nothing in common with, and whom you know will for the most part never speak to you again the day you leave that particular company.

    I have my own life now, with my own friends and hobbies…which I have time for now that I don’t have to commute to an outside workplace! I don’t usually have time to call friends during the work day, but I have managed some exercise buddies, which I love. Mostly, the extra time goes to my kids.
    Carol Tice recently posted..How to Earn Well as a Freelance Writer–When English is Your Second LanguageMy Profile

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