The other day Michelle (The Green Study), a blogger I follow, wrote about her quest to find the perfect place to write; and then asked us, her fellow bloggers, to share how we “create space and time to work.”
When I reviewed my rather long-winded (sorry, Michelle) comment I thought, to myself, “This isn’t a comment, it’s a blog post.” So I decided to keep Michelle’s idea going by sharing what works best for me; and hopefully you’ll be inspired to do the same. Here goes:
I am one of the lucky ones. A career as an ad agency writer/creative director has
trained me to ‘write on demand’. You get a brief, you get to work. End of story. Not in the mood? Too bad. Off you go and mind the deadline. And by God, you learn to do it.
It also forces you to come up with ideas at the snap of a finger — uh — make that the crack of a whip.
In an ad agency there’s no such thing as no distractions. No sooner do you sit down at your computer then your phone rings. You’re called to a meeting, or a client wants to go over your copy or a team member needs to vent about something — that very minute. Then there’s all the people who just show up in your office, or at your desk or cubicle — to talk, to kvetch, to brief you on a new job (with the same deadline as the job you’re already working on, lucky you) or any one of a number of other reasons.
Right next to you someone is listening to music — the same song or jingle over and over and over and over again — stopping and starting, stopping and starting. Right across from you someone watching an audition tape, listening to dozens and dozens of actors ‘performing’ the exact same lines. A couple of doors away someone’s having a meeting with four other people and you can hear every word they’re saying. Down the hall someone has a meltdown.
It’s the same thing every day. And somehow, miraculously, you learn to block it all out. It just becomes a buzz of human energy after a while which, in my case, makes working at home, alone (now that I freelance) feel strange.
When I decided to freelance I made myself a beautiful office, with everything I could possibly need or want, right at my fingertips. I have never sat in there to work. Not even once. It makes me feel too isolated.
Working in cafes is my absolute favourite. I have no idea who’s coming or going. I have no idea what the people around me are saying. I guess I am also lucky because I get so immersed in my work, so lost in the words I am oblivious to everything else. It’s that “buzz” I find so comforting, so inspiring actually — so UN-distracting.
Total silence distracts me. But I have been forcing myself to become comfortable working from home. And I find my preferred spot is at my dining room table. No TV or music on. Don’t ask me why, but this works for me. I live on the 15th floor, face south and have a gorgeous view — and my apartment is very bright. The light there is perfect. And I can also see my living room and into my kitchen. So for some reason here I don’t feel isolated like I do in my office.
I’ve worked well on planes and trains — love to work on the train, actually. And truly, I think I could work on a park bench.
Advertising is a very tough business. Brutal deadlines, terrible hours and stress, stress, stress. But it’s given me the ability to ‘work on command’ and, under a myriad of less-than-desirable conditions — and for that I am extremely grateful.
Over to you …