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No boundaries

I could be talking about how my writing has no limits. How my brain is free to play in the fields of my limitless imagination.

But I’m not.

I’m talking about the writing life. How because I work from home, at all hours of the day and night, there seem to be no boundaries to tell me when the workday ends.

It’s almost enough to make me miss the days of my—thankfully short—commute and a defined work schedule. Almost. I had crappy hours, but once I drove away, I was done. I’m really much happier now, home when my kids get done with school, available to take them to swim practice or pick them up from an after-school event.

Able to work out daily.

But lately I’ve been feeling a bit burned out by my time in front of the computer, much of which is not spent writing. Social media and email are addictive, but no one’s going to miss me if I’m not there. I don’t have to read every tweet since last time I checked my list.

The fate of the free world—or any other part of the world, for that matter—does not rest on my reply to the latest email.

Many of my writer friends keep odd hours of their own, and I like being available when they are. I don’t plan to impose “office hours”, but I’m giving myself permission to sign off when I need to without worry.

Even a hot request from an agent or editor can wait until morning (ha, yeah, right). It’s not like she’s going to read it before bed.

So, I’m trying to cut back on the stuff that doesn’t matter as much—yes, again—and focus on enjoying the time I spend at the keyboard. Hopefully, writing.

How do you set boundaries for yourself. Do you set “office hours”?

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  1. Reply

    Not office hours, but I keep to a “pages per day” schedule, however much time that takes. I work hard to get my pages done in enough time to have some fun time–TV, reading or, just recently, kitten cuddling. 🙂

    • Reply

      I often do word count or hours goals, but I’ve been off my stride lately. Trying to get it back. Thanks for stopping by, and congrats on your Daphne double final!

  2. Reply

    I don’t set boundaries. Never have. And I’ve been doing this a LONG time. I work when I want to work. I hit the gym, do the errands…and then, sit down at my desk and write. Sometimes it’s during a soccer game, sometimes it’s set business hours. But, I am so used to working ALL hours as a proposal manager, I just never changed my schedule. It suits me to hit the gym at a set time, that way I get my workout in. I read while I’m on the bike or the treadmill, I check email and twitter. I do far better if I limit twitter and FB to set hours, then everything else stays sane. But, those places are also my virtual water coolers. Take your pick. I still get more done during the day than the average worker …. even with all that I do.

    • Reply

      Stacia: For the most part, I like being able to work when I want to, and around my family schedule. The main drawback is feeling like I’m always plugged in, online, available, working.

      But, yeah, I keep doing it like that for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. I never had that kind of schedule when I worked for others, but I always wanted the freedom.

  3. Lisa Dunick


    Back when I was just in grad school and teaching, we had a rule that between 4-8 was family time. But now I have the kids all day and I teach and I have to squeeze writing in the time that’s left. I know it irritates my husband when I work at night, too, but it’s the only way I know to get the time in it’s going to take to get a career going.

    • Reply

      I know what you mean, Lisa. I try to set aside time–especially on the weekends–when I’m not in front of the computer and the whole family can hang it. It’s a definite balancing act.

  4. spleeness


    I too struggle with dividing up my time and attention. Somehow I feel “out of the loop” when I stay away from facebook and twitter, but I’ve been doing so anyway in order to stay focused. There are many benefits to being connected, but farting around doesn’t get creative work done. I don’t have office hours but I do try to write at night and when I do, I ignore all distractions.

    • Reply

      It’s good that you can shut off the distractions, spleeness. Now that I’m done teaching until August, I should have better luck staying offline when I need to write. And I’ve been wondering where you went! 😉

  5. Reply

    So funny that you should post this because I was wondering how you did it “all” just the other day! I was like, she’s reading a book about conflict, she’s writing and responding to requests, she’s …. she’s… and I was in total awe. I’m actually relieved to see that you’re distracted like the rest of us by social media and more.

    As for the writing goals? Well, you know my methods, but lately I’ve been spending more time reading and less time writing/doing social media/gunning for the elusive publishing prize. I think it’s because I’m sick, but I also think it is because my brain is tired and needs a break. Nothing better than filling the well so to speak.

    I do give myself weekends off just like when I worked full time. That way I feel there is an end. And unless I have to have something out to someone based on a deadline, I am finished with writing by 5PM.

    • Reply

      Oh yeah, Christine, I’m definitely distracted by it. And with teaching and other stuff going on, by the time I sit down–or stand up!–to write my brain is tired. I’m trying to get back to doing the writing first so I don’t drain the creativity.

      I’m glad you’re figuring out what helps keep you motivated, and sometimes a break is what we need the most!

  6. Reply

    When I was unemployed (I miss those days… I got a lot done), I would write every day from 10 to 2. I’d stop at noon if I was having a really rough day, and continue to 4, 5, or 6 if I was having a great day, but every day I began writing at 10. That really helped me because it was a routine.

    The other thing that helped me was unplugging our wireless router. I’d commit to internet-free writing time for however long I was writing. If I needed to look up a fact, I would go use my husband’s computer (same room, plugged into the wall), then come back to mine. It’s the only thing I found that forced me to think through my brain lapses and not go play 100 games of facebook Snood or check my e-mail for the 483rd time. Once I felt done with writing for the time being, I’d plug the router back in and go on with life.

    • Reply

      That sounds like a good plan, Kali. I know a lot of people use software like MacFreedom or whatever that shuts off their Internet access for a certain period of time.

      As long as I close email and Twitter, I’m usually fine. My biggest problem comes when I’m teaching or moderating and feel like I have to leave the email open. I finally shut off the number notification and made it so the icon bounced if I got a class email. That’s helped.

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