Underpants and tea don’t rule

Its a balancing act, not a sign of things to come. Click image for source.

It's a balancing act, not a sign of things to come. Click image for source.

It’s been a while since I last posted. This is because I’m in the happy position of having lots of work to get on with, and today, the even happier position of it being less sunny outside and therefore less temptation to roll around in my new garden like an excited child.

It’s been an even longer while since I sat down to intense, long periods of bringing together a lot of disparate information, structuring it according to a brief and then giving it that ‘draw’ of the story. Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end and if you can tell that story well, people will read it.

So it’s been interesting to see whether my new freelance modus operandi is different from how I worked in-house.

And it isn’t.

For me, writing encompasses two very different ways of thinking. One is the focused, zoned-in mode, in which you suddenly realise you’ve been at it for hours at a stretch, the sun is over the yard-arm, and you’ve missed Britain’s Got Talent yet again. This is when writers are in ‘impressive’ mode, where you just see them working, working, working and know that your money’s been well spent.

I once got so into something that I worked till 10pm then actually moved – and set off the burglar alarm. It had been activated about three hours previously because people thought the office was empty, but given that all I’d moved was my fingers for the next three hours, the highly calibrated alarm sensors hadn’t picked me up.

But there is another mode, equally as necessary, and for me that’s where I walk away and think about anything other than work. While working in-house that would often involve wandering around and causing mischief. Alternatively I would just disappear. I once played bass guitar for a company band, and I would go to the rehearsal room and work on that tricky bassline (for the record, “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five is fairly tough as is, surprisingly enough, Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer”).

When I came back I would be completely reset and raring to go. Whereas before I could be getting lost in objectives, strategies and tactics, when I came back it would suddenly be crystal clear. Cue impressive mode.

You can’t have one without the other. I think that’s where the top-down approach – that is, the brief you’re working towards – meets the bottom-up, where you introduce new angles and fashion the story.

So now that I’m working from home, albeit in a completely separate annex, it surprises me that I do the same. There’s always the danger that, working on one’s own, you end up wandering around in your underpants making endless cups of tea. Or, alternatively, that you forget to eat and wind up covered in spider webs and snail tracks.

Fortunately it seems I’m maintaining that balance. I am neither in my underpants, nor taking root. I work, then pop out to the garden and read the paper, or stroke the cats, or stare at a bush. Then I go back, and become impressive. And the best thing is, I don’t have to commute. That’s smug mode, by the way.

Balance in all things. If I believed in such twaddle I’d say I’m a typical Libran.

5 thoughts on “Underpants and tea don’t rule

  1. Interesting post Brendan and one that I relate to now that I work in Social Media Marketing where being ‘at the office’ isn’t really that necessary..

    I’ve spent a large part of the last 6 months working from home for the first time in my life and while I do sometimes miss the buzz and banter of the office environment, I’ve managed to bypass the politics and pointlessness of everyday office routines, save money on commuting and generally become a lot more engrossed in my work..producing better and more consistent results..which I couldn’t do to the same level when I was working under tight deadlines in an office.

    I get up at 7am and plan my to-do list
    Work solidly until 930am
    Call my boss or client for an update
    Have breakfast
    Go for a big run around 12am everyday or make some music
    Have lunch
    Then work through until 7 or 8pm sometimes without rushing like you would in an office
    Or sometimes go out for a few hours in the afternoon, get home for 6pm and work in the evening

    When I do need to travel into town to meet my team or a client I always make sure I cycle and save money as well..

    I could never work from home long term and now have a job which is a 50/50 split and keeps me on the move, but it is a great for while..

    • The 50/50 split is a nice one and certainly something I would endorse. Meanwhile I’m happy tending my own little copywriting patch.

      I like the idea of going for a big run too! I’ve been trying to get more exercise in throughout the day but have been finding it’s either blindingly hot or freezingly cold or drippingly wet recently. Or perhaps I’m just lacking moral fibre?

  2. Pingback: The Universal Process™. Or: the Gartner Hype Cycle of Life « Brendan Cooper – your friendly social media-savvy freelance copywriter and social media consultant. Or: words make ideas make money.

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