At critique group this week, four of us sat around a table, crunching on nuts, sipping iced tea, and talking about balance. All four of us work at home, which can be great for things like having a flexible schedule. (Critique group meetings at 2 pm on Tuesdays? No problem.)
But working at home can have its drawbacks, as well—and that’s where the conversation wound around to after the critiquing was done.
Working at home can be lonely. If I didn’t have a dog, there might be days when I never left the house.
Working at home can be sedentary. If I didn’t get up for snacks, I might hardly move at all.
Most of all, working at home can be non-stop, if you let it. With no time card to punch, no daily commute defining the parameter of the ‘work day,’ you really could work all the time. Writer friends confess to me all the time that they feel guilty taking time away from their desk to meet a friend for lunch, take a walk in the park, go out with their husband for coffee.
But they shouldn’t, and if you work at home, you shouldn’t, either.
A story a few weeks ago on npr discussed several studies done on keeping your brain healthy and your memory strong—two things that come in handy when you’re a writer (or do anything else, for that matter.)
The studies looked at people over 80 and how they fared as they aged. But the conclusions apply to us all, especially those of us who work at home:
Physical exercise is key.
Social contact is essential.
And you need to leave your house and get out in the world, on a regular basis.
So, while I could work all the time, taking the long view of a productive career (not to mention a happy life) suggests that I shouldn’t—and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, either.
I just joined a gym class full of neighbors I’d like to get to know.
I start today.