In an effort to make the blog more personal:
Some days, I’ll come across someone who is wholly interested in what I do as a travel writer/blogger. Other times, people tend to care less. And sometimes, people don’t seem to understand at all. For all of those reasons, I’m starting “The Truths About Being a Travel Writer,” a blog post series I hope will shed proper light on what it really means to be me.
(I say me specifically because I am sure there are many exceptions. All travel writers work differently.)
1 — Working From Home
The year before graduation, I interned at two separate magazines. It’s a funny thing because I loved the excitement and glamor of walking into a publishing office and seeing it abuzz with ideas and determination. Being fresh-faced and eager, it was like my dream come true.
I had my own desk, phone with an extension number, and my own set of responsibilities. I spent the days mostly writing and completing administrative tasks. I’d no complaints.
That’s when coming into work was still fun. So fun, I started visualizing what my future might look like. I saw myself writing about cool travel things in my own office, hobnobbing with editors and attending soirees every week. All while I still traveled.
It didn’t take long for this fantasy to change. Eventually, I grew tired of reporting to an office every day. I felt restricted. Arriving at the same time, sitting at the same desk, writing the same type of articles, and hoping I’m busy enough not to notice how slow everything is moving— it was all severely monotonous. I was sl o w l y g o i n g insane.
For sure, I loved my internships. They offered me things I could never learn on my own as a freelancer.
But I’m thrilled I don’t have to deal with that today. None of it.
I don’t report to an office, I’m not on a schedule, I don’t have a boss, and I can travel when I please. It’s great. What’s not to like? It’s the type of scenario many individuals dream of having but for some reason or another can’t.
But it’s not always the dream it appears to be. There are some serious setbacks.
The main one I deal with on the daily is the lack of an office. Sure, I have a desk and a set-up at home that’s much more comfortable than my last one at a communal work space, but it lacks a proper “office” setting.
No Office Hours
This might seem like a great problem to have. Who wouldn’t want to sleep in in the mornings or to end the work day early? I do that. On a regular basis, mind you. But that’s not my issue.
I’ve discovered that people have a tendency to forget that I’m busy working because I work from home. Perhaps, they think I spend the days in front of the television waiting for a call to action? My parents are one of the culprits. They mean well, I know. And I love them unconditionally, but sometimes they forget that I might be working at 1pm on a Wednesday. But I can’t fault them for that. We’re from two different times.
Then there are some people who think I’m completely unemployed. To them, I have no words.
Oh, there are many! Working from home means I am at arm’s length from everything more interesting than work: the kitchen, Netflix, books, my bed, the couch, and of course Haupia, my darling mini beagle. Even the dirty dishes seem more interesting at times.
I’m sure it also doesn’t help that I’m a life-long procrastinator. I guess I crave the pressure!
And because no one is breathing down my neck, those deadlines are easier to put off and those distractions are easier to give in to! I have a real weakness for snuggling with Haupia. We like to fall asleep on the couch or in bed with either a good book or Netflix running in the background. We’ll wake up three hours later and pick up where I left off. It’s a good bad habit. I’m not complaining.
Needless to say, discipline is definitely required to work from home.
Lack of Co-working Atmosphere
Coworkers. I don’t have any. I seldom need to collaborate with anyone but the editor my work is assigned to. Or the occasional contact for information and interviews. Mostly, it’s only me and Haupia in my “office.” But that’s plenty.
I never anticipated the lack of coworkers to bother me. It wasn’t ever a thought I had. Certainly, it wasn’t an important enough factor to make me choose one work setting over another. That award goes to my freedom to travel.
But the truth is, working from home rarely involves daily face-to-face interaction. All of those forced conversations and tiresome (often awkward) socializing are eliminated. The introvert in me should be happy. And she is.
But there are days I wish I had coworkers to go out to lunch with, bounce ideas of off, and practice my interpersonal social skills on. The latter being particularly important.
There are pros and cons for any job. While I love the freedom and perks of being a freelance travel writer, there are always set backs that make some days harder to work through.
Do any of you, working from home or not, encounter similar issues?