How to Stay Sane When You Think for a Living

I’m also titling this piece “A Note to my Writerly Self.” For those of you who are eavesdropping on my inner-monologue, I’m a ghostwriter and a fiction novelist. I have a wicked obsessive streak, which has made me a decent writer and photographer, but can get a little annoying. I live with my fantastic, intelligent, entrepreneurial, political and civilly responsible husband who also has an obsessive streak.

I work from home. I hereby invite those who also work from home to read my inner-monologue.

Dear Author/Work from home-er,

I’m proud of you. You’re living the dream. You’re doing it at the grand old age of 31 which is very cool. No regrets! No pining over the 9-5 job in marketing that you left. It was scary. You left it. You’re rocking life now. Well done.

I’m also proud that you managed to shower today. The problem with working from home is that you can do it in your PJ’s. Cool for the first week. Then it starts to get sad. You find yourself migrating from the ergonomically acceptable desk to the couch. The pencil that you lost is in your matted hair and you have forgotten what make-up even looks like. Or where you put it. Friends re-runs and Doctor Phil are the soundtrack of your creative genius as you zone out to what is on television and zone into the world you are creating. It’s awesome until the door opens at 6pm. In steps the love of your life. You jump to your feet to greet him, knocking over the dead coffee from four hours ago and suddenly realising you haven’t cleaned your teeth. There are other things you’ve forgotten. You hope he doesn’t notice.

You’d suck at being a 50’s wife. Thank God that fate didn’t befall you. The dishes aren’t done. Dinner isn’t cooked. But you have a healthy sense of YOLO about you and your partner gets it. You are also thankful that he doesn’t mind that its La Porchetta take-away for dinner again tonight. You promise steak, perfectly prepared vegetables and your fabulous home-made tiramisu for dinner tomorrow. It will probably happen – if he makes it himself because you are on a roll right now.

So I’m proud you managed to shower today. Please also do your hair and make-up tomorrow. For your sanity. You still do live in a civilization. You should act like it.

I’m proud that you are creating a world of fiction, or a 70,000 word world of medical genius, or whatever it is that you are creating. It’s a hard job. The hardest actually. But you wouldn’t do anything else. You thrive off the challenge that would scare others off. That’s awesome. It’s a feat of intellectual strength. Go you.

Just don’t forget the world you live in. Get out every day, even if only once. Even if only to have a coffee with a friend. I know that the fiction characters you create become your friends but honey, you need some really people in your life. Serious. Ones that can tell you when you are so off in the land of *insert novel name here* that you have no idea whats going on in the world, in news and current affairs, or in the lives of your friends. Once a day baby. Get out of the house. See a real person. Yes this means showering. Yes this means getting dressed. See, everything in life is for a reason.

Look: If you need more reason to get out, people-watching is excellent fiction fodder. Just saying.

I’m proud that you exhibit such self-control as to undertake your work life without the supervisor standing above you telling you what needs to be done next. It’s tough on the days when you have procrastination hovering around you like some type of ghost. It’s tough on the days when you have to edit and it feels like you are slashing your child in half with a pen/knife. It’s tough on the days when you can’t find that concentration zone where the good stuff happens and Facebook is just there. Just hovering.

That’s when the line between boredom and hunger becomes really difficult to decipher. So author/writer/work-from-home-er, get out every day and exercise. It’s better for your mind, the mind that works best when it is clear. It is better for concentration – breaking it, breathing in freshness and burning off the errors in the boredom/hunger delineation – and it feels good. You need the feelgood.

You’re not going to become a hermit. You’re not going to become a crazy. You just need to do these few things. Do it for me. Do it for you.

Do it for a better, more balanced life and a better book.

Okay. That’s it for now.

Love always

Your make-up wearing, clean hair having, friend contacting, fit healthy you.

xo

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