Eight months ago, I joined my friend and fellow writer, Helen, for an open writing day at Kismet Cowork – a gorgeous, restored factory shared workspace in Chestnut Hill, PA. Helen had been telling me about Kismet for a while.
“It’s made me so much more productive,” she kept saying.
Knowing nothing about coworking and being wired towards skepticism, I rolled my eyes. For $350 a month, I told her, I could stay at home and get just as much writing done. And, the truth is, at home, I was fairly prolific. But I also got easily distracted by DVR-ed episodes of Dateline, constant breaks for tea, peeing, checking email, and futzing around on Twitter, Facebook, and (let’s be honest) Match.com. So, I was productive, but not nearly as productive as I was capable of being.
What made it worse was that I had no work/life separation. I’d wake up at six a.m. and launch into a vigorous bout of writing, then get bored and find excuses to fritter away time and money running nonessential errands then returning home for fast and furious fifteen-minute scribbling sessions followed by yet another downward spiral into unproductivity. On the other hand, at nine o’clock at night, when my body was starting to wind down, my mind would get a sudden burst of restless energy and I’d start editing a project (badly, of course. I’m much more functional in the a.m. than the p.m.).
Laundry fell by the wayside. Or there’d be times when I’d procrastinate putting the pen to the page by choosing, instead, to empty the dishwasher or reorganize my closets. It all felt so haphazard, with no clear sense of boundaries between my work and living spaces. I’d ditch my earmarked “work-time” to hang out with friends or I’d decline fun invites to stay home and stare at my computer screen.
And then a Saturday Kismet Writing Day rolled around and I joined Helen and a handful of other writers for a free session of independent writing. I worked, head-down, sans distraction, from ten to twelve, took a break for a quick salad at Green Soul, then came back and banged out another two and a half hours of focused, productive, quality prose. It was great! It was also a lot less lonely than sitting in my apartment, in my PJs. I was surrounded by fellow writers, each of whom was working on his or her own creative project.
“This was incredible,” I told Helen when the writing session ended and we congregated to chat about what our respective processes had been like. “I got so much done.”
The others agreed. Words like breakthrough and triumph and pages abounded. I almost couldn’t comprehend it. It had been nearly a decade since I’d last enjoyed an office experience. Not that I’d ever really enjoyed one (unless you count the time my then-boyfriend and I snuck in, after hours, to fool around).
It had been years since I’d gone somewhere, sat at a desk, done my work, and, then, when I was finished, had the option to leave and do things unrelated to my employment. I owed it to myself, I reasoned, to legitimize my authorial career by carving out a distinct and separate space (and schedule) for my writing. So, on July 31st, I went for my first official, paid, day at Kismet, and for the last eight months I’ve been going to a designated space each day to put pen to page and do the work of my craft and I am in love with it and getting more done than I ever could have hoped for. What’s more, my personal life has improved because I’ve stopped working at home, and I get to enjoy my apartment as a place to relax, unwind and just be.
If you’re a working at home right now and struggling with any of the issues that used to plague me, I highly suggest checking out coworking. I’m partial to Kismet (https://www.kismetcowork.com/). And, funnily enough, it’s all come full-circle and starting Saturday May 5th, my friend Heidi and I will be there, running a structured writing workshop, on the first Saturday of every month.
For more information, or to sign up to write with us and see this BEAUTIFUL space, check out http://comewritewithus.eventbrite.com.