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Working in your underwear: Writing as a home-based business

Work at Home
Work at Home
Sean Gallup - Getty Images

Few careers lend themselves to working from home as well as writing. If you are a writer or even have an inkling (pun intended) for writing, then you might consider working as a freelancer and setting up a home-based business. Of course, this applies to all kinds of writing: copy writing, articles, journalism, blogging, screenwriting, teleplays, poetry, fiction, and stage plays. The best part about working from home is deciding when, where and how you work--even if that means working in your underwear!

It goes without saying that some of the more artistic types of writing, such as screenwriting and fiction, might not pay your bills right away as these fields often take time to become established and create a name for yourself. And, it's probably not a great idea to quit your job and become a poet or television writer without that book deal or script sale. In fact, no matter what type of writing you are doing, it is prudent to stay in your job and write on the side until you've built enough business and stability to take the plunge into your inkwell and make writing your fulltime gig. Once you do, working from home is a very viable option. There are several pros and cons to working from home, but with a little planning and forethought, you can beat the cons and become a work-from-home pro.

  • Create a work space for yourself. Figure out where you work best--at a desk, in your living room, at the dining room table, on (or in) your bed? It varies from person to person and sometimes from mood to mood, but where you write can really have an impact on your productivity level. Whatever you decide, having a dedicated space for work and work related items like files and supplies can help create more of a work-type environment to keep you on track.
  • Limit distractions. The television, the phone, the radio, the neighbors, these are all distractions. In an office setting, one is not without distractions like co-workers and water cooler gossip, but there's usually a boss or an HR person looking over your shoulder to limit these little breaks. Working from home takes a little more focus and concentration to keep the distractions to a minimum. Try turning the ringer off on the phone, hide the remote, and keep yourself focused.
  • Set a schedule. This is probably one of the most useful things you can do for yourself if you are writing and working from home. One of the freedoms of working at home is that you can work at whatever hour you please, as long as you get it done and meet deadlines. It can be very easy to procrastinate so a schedule can keep you on track. Figure out when you work best and build your day around that. If you are a morning writer, plan on spending the first part of your days writing and make follow up calls, errands, etc in the latter part of the day. If you are a night owl and prefer writing at night, that's fine, too, just try to build some hours during the workday for phone calls and communication with clients and those who have more traditional schedules. Whatever you decide, put it on paper and hang it somewhere you can see it.
  • Stay motivated. Keeping motivated can be one of the biggest challenges of working from home. It's easy to put it off and say you'll get to it tomorrow, but what you need to realize now is that working freelance means you must get the work done. If you don't work, you don't get paid. It's not like an office where you might slack off a bit and still get a paycheck at the end of the week. No work, no pay. Simple. You'll really feel the effects at the end of the month when you get the bills and have to pay the rent. This article has some great tips on how to stay motivated when you work from home.
  • Keep things organized. It can be very easy, for creative-types in particular, to let the organization slip. If you keep everything together in one space where your notes and files are easily accessed and intuitive, you'll spend less time rammaging through piles looking for that one scrap of paper with the note you took while you were sitting at the dentist's office with your next brilliant idea scribbled on it. Whether you take advantage of technology or prefer old-fashioned techniques like file cabinets is up to you. Just find what works and put a system in place.

Of course there are other great benefits that come with working from home such as being there when the kids get home from school, and taxes (check with your tax advisor on some of the tax benefits of having a home-based business). But most of all, the best benefit is being your own boss. You can pick and choose not only when you work and where you work, but also with whom you work. Finding like-minded clients is one of the best perks of having a home-based business.

Working from home is not for everyone, but if you like the freedom to set your own schedule and decide how you spend your time working, and you have the motivation and the drive to get it done, you might be the perfect candidate to work from home. Again, easing into it is the best way to go. For some, writing can be a lucrative fulltime business and for others it's a great plan B to have as a side gig supplementing a regular 9-to-5 job.

For more information about Taura Mizrahi and the Write Approach, follow them on twitter at @WriteApproach and please visit


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