Work at Home Blues

And so I enter the 4th or so week of working a day job as an illustrator who works at a home studio (if indeed a desk and drawers stuffed with art supplies constitute as a studio), and I’m beginning to learn the glories and downfalls of what that really means. It’s so wonderful to be at this point in my career finally, but I am finding myself growing a little odd from spending so much time alone.

I’ve started talking to paintings and humming musical renditions of Ultramarine and Alizaran Crimson. I’ve probably seen Jurassic Park six times, since that seems to be what’s showing in the background on tv whenever I work at the desk these days. Coming from previous professions that involved social interaction with students and co-workers, it’s been an interesting transition. Being able to concentrate on art has been lovely, but I find I miss the social interaction just a little.

Now I just have my dog and my paints.

Contrary to popular belief, working at home is not as simple as it seems. It is far too easy to get distracted by the shiny, shiny net and not get your work quota done for the day. Like most jobs, there are deadlines involved and if things go wrong and you’re late, it’s nobody’s fault but your own. There is no bureaucracy to blame for your own mistakes. If you’re a work-o-holic like me, you might end up working too late, like I commonly do, being the night owl that I am. I still haven’t quite found a way to balance a schedule with creating a social life. I must learn how to put the paintbrush down and to stop worrying about deadlines! For when the current deadline ends, there will (hopefully) always be yet another and another!

So I am curious, you artists, writers, or work-at-home masterminds who run your own businesses, how do you keep yourself motivated? How do you cut down on distraction? How do you balance having a social life with trying to meet quotas? How do you prevent yourself from going just a little batty from being alone?

Inquiring minds who are currently distracted by blog writing would like to know!

3 comments

  1. Just recently getting back to my work-at-home schedule, I’ve been trying to perfect my routine from my experiences last summer. It’s temptingly easy to just fritter the day away or think “well… a little mid-day nap wouldn’t hurt anyone…” It’s also tough for me because I have no deadline. I’m setting word goals per day, and participating in a writing blitz next month with the SRW, so we all have someone to report to.

    The other thing I had to do was set myself a schedule. I don’t worry about specific hours, as sometimes I prefer midnight writing and sometimes I’d rather do an afternoon, but I need work days and weekends so I don’t just always think “well, I can do it tomorrow too”. I work when Kirb works, and when he’s off, I’m off… which means I end up working a lot more than I’m off, given his schedule.

    Then… I also have to avoid distractions and keep myself from wasting time. I have to trick myself into writing, and I’m not sure if my tactics will work for your art. I’ll write on the laptop for a few days, then get caught up in edits, so I trick myself and go to pen and paper where editing is harder. Then I start harping on forming ideas before putting them down (since editing is harder on paper) so I trick myself and change setting. I try to go into the city a couple times a week, get lunch somewhere (preferably with a booth so I can fit my laptop) and write there, where I don’t want to spend an hour staring at my laptop with people thinking I’m not working. I just keep changing things up like that to break a lull if I get in one.

    As for the social life, well.. most of my friends aren’t in the same city anyway, and you know I need to log on AIM more. At least setting designated days off allows time to go out and do things, or designated hours (when Kirb’s on shift) means I can spend the other part of the day doing something fun.

  2. Hayley, the local coffee shop used to be my hang out on weekends but I’ve avoided going there since there are so many tempting books nearby. I should try hanging out at the library again like I used to when I was a social reject in elementary/high school XD

    It definitely helps to have an agenda set out and I’m currently working with blogs on set days and with a certain amount of hours in the morning set aside to checking online sites and responding to emails. Sometimes this time bleeds out way farther than it should and I don’t get to the arting till just before or after lunch.

    I think once I can balance it all it will go smoothly. Perhaps if I can learn to resist the siren call of new books, I can venture to the Starbucks in Barnes and Nobles and set up with some color pencil or ink stuff that isn’t so messy or take my laptop for when I get back to the purely writing bits of my current gig.

    Sounds like you got a good system going on! Yeees you should get on aim more<_<

  3. ban says:

    i can soooo relate – being a stay at home mom and all. it’s so easy to let every little thing distract you, the dish hubby didn’t wash last night sitting on the counter, the book, which is easier to read than it is for me to write, the show i taped last night, the clay necklace i want to finish up, the two year old tugging my hand saying ‘mama help you’ as she dumps a bowl of cheerios on my once clean floor and oh, wait, it’s beautiful out today maybe i’ll get some sun …

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