I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home before COVID-19 happened. In terms of my daily work routine, nothing really changed.
Typically, I’d wake up around six or seven in the morning and go to the gym. I’d come back, do a little house cleaning and make myself some breakfast. Around 8:30 AM I would perch myself at my desk with a cup of coffee in hand and get started on my work for the day. Around noon, I would take my lunch break and do some writing. At the end of the day, I’d turn on my personal laptop and pick up where I left off at lunch.
I had a great schedule going. Eventually, I had to stop going to the gym when it closed (let’s not talk about how that affected my weight), but typically I was able to write anywhere from a thousand to five thousand words a day, which is amazing in the writing world. That meant I could finish a first draft of a 90,000 word story in about two months.
Unfortunately, something else happened when COVID-19 hit. My husband started working from home, and the both of us were stuck home. Together. Twenty four hours a day and seven days a week. I love the man dearly, but it’s been nothing short of a struggle to concentrate with absolutely no privacy. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for families with kids.
Things I didn’t even know irritated me started to drive me insane. I never realized how loudly he spoke until I had to listen to him in meetings for six hours a day. When he’d take a break, he’d watch TV or play a video game, and all I could hear was World War III breaking out in the background. The walls shook. He’d smash his fingers on his keyboard. And even though he wore headphones when using his computer, I could hear everything right through them.
What was a writer to do? My ability to continuously write started dwindling, until most days I no longer had the motivation to write anything. Our small house doesn’t give us the luxury to have separate offices, and to write, I needed to be in my own personal space free of distractions. The only other option was to sit on the couch or dining room table. Neither of which was very comfortable for eight plus hours of daily work, or for me to settle down and let the words formulate off my fingertips.
I started getting a little creative. For starters, my husband is a night owl while I’m a morning person. I’d get up at the crack of dawn just to have a few hours to myself before his day started. When the weather was nice, I’d sit outside on the patio. After several months of this, and now that my patio is covered in two feet of snow, my options were becoming more limited. I tried popping the trunk of my SUV and sitting in the back while I typed away in my driveway. Soon, though, it would get too cold even for that. I needed to find a place to call my own.
Enter: The first floor bathroom.
Thankfully, we have two full bathrooms, and other than to give the dog a bath every once in a while, no one ever uses the tub on the first floor. I stared at it, curiously assessing it. I could work with this.
I gave the tub a quick wipe down and threw a bunch of pillows and a blanket across the bottom. I dug up the reading pillow I stashed in the basement and never thought I’d use again, propping it against the far wall of the tub. I grabbed my coffee and my laptop, nestling in my slightly short, walled coffin in the tiny room. Finally, I dragged the shower curtain over just for good measure and began to write.
It took my husband a few hours to realize I was actually home, hidden in the house. It wasn’t until he tried to use the bathroom that I almost literally scared the crap out of him when I peeked out from behind the curtain.
Would I make this my new home office? Probably not. My point is most of us are experiencing some kind of annoying setback, whether you’re a writer or not. Things are difficult right now, and you might have to find a creative way to get through it. Go ahead, lock yourself in a closet, a bathroom, or your car. If it gives you an hour or two of quiet time, it’s worth it!