Writer’s Notebook 3/29/20 – Writing and Working from Home

I used to rely on coffee shops for my writing routine. As a working mom with a full-time job, I needed to find the time and space to focus on my writing and weekend trips to the nearby coffee shop were a great way for me to do that. That was before COVID-19 came to Washington State and before my life adjusted to a new normal.

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I’ve been working from home now for about four weeks and in a lot of ways, I’ve settled nicely into a new weekday routine. I happen to have a job that can be done virtually but I’ve never worked from home for such a long period of time until now. Before this month, my house simply wasn’t set up for working from home. I always considered home to be a place of rest, relaxation and recovery and have tried to keep work separate from my home life as much as I could. That set-up has had to change as we stay at home as much as possible to hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19. I can no longer fully separate my work from my home so I have had to find other ways to find a sense of balance.

For me, physical cues are very important for just about every activity I do. One way that I manage my monkey brain is to have certain places dedicated to certain activities. I have a space for exercise, a space for work and a space for writing. I have trained my brain that when I walk into the coffee shop, find a spot and put on my headphones it is time to start working on the book. This type of mental training works well for me. The cues tell my brain that it’s time to write and I’m able to find the creativity I need to work on my book. With “#lockdown2020” in full effect, I’ve had to get creative with how to focus myself with the limited space I have available in my house.

I don’t have a huge house so it’s not like I have a bunch of different rooms to escape to for work or writing. And so I’ve basically used new cues to help train my monkey brain. I have a sunny corner of the house set up for my paying job so I know that when I sit there, it’s time to focus on company work. For my book writing, I use other cues to tell my brain that it’s time to write. Despite the fact that I’m home and have my computer available, I use the same iPad + Bluetooth keyboard set up that I used in the coffee shops for my writing. I keep the same routine I had at Starbucks: plant a tree in Forest, sit down in front of my iPad, put on my headphones with chillhop and focus on writing.

I’ve used this new system for two weekends now and it seems to be working well. My husband watches the kids and gives me the time I need to focus on my writing in the morning on the weekends. We then trade off and I take the littles while he gets in time on his personal projects. As we spend more time together at home, its important that each of us gets the time we need to do the things we love; for the kids, that usual means playing outside in the yard, for my husband it’s his personal art projects and for me it’s my writing. I know we will get through this by working together and supporting each other. Making sure everyone gets the time they need is so important.

My writing journey continues, even as I stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19!

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