Monday, June 24, 2013

Off the Wall

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Almost a decade ago, my brother was about to bring his lady friend back up to his apartment. He gave her a warning before they went upstairs, "Just a heads-up... my brother is there. He's probably writing, which means he's sitting in his boxers, smoking weed, and watching baseball."

Accurate depiction.

Ten years later... it's almost the same thing. Except I'm on the Left Coast and I wear pants. Shorts actually. It's Southern California dammit. Besides, I don't want to be that underwear guy.

The tough part about working from home is that there's zero buffer between work and home, so you have manipulate the environment and make it more porfessional so you don't slack off and end up on the couch in your underwear.

When you work in an office, you have a transition period between home and work, which is essentially your commute if you're driving to work or taking public transportation or you're lucky enough to be able to walk to your office building. The point is, you have some sort of time period to mentally prepare yourself before your work day begins.

If you work at home, there's no transition period, which is why you need to set aside a few minutes to prep yourself. I try to go for a walk -- at the minimum to walk around the block -- in order to mentally prepare myself for work. It's better if I actually think about what I need to do... or what I'm going to write.

At the same time, I had lots of bad days when I snatched up my CrackBerry and started reading/responding to work emails before I even got out of bed. That's never wise because your mind is not 100% sharp and then you lose any prep time to ease into the day instead of stumbling out of the gates. I like the no email until noon policy that I've seen a lot of business guru types try to push forth as a way to maximize production. Their theory is that email is just time suckage and a huge distraction and it takes away from getting shit down.

Anyway, if you work from home, you should not jump into the fray right away and take some time to mentally prepare yourself either with breakfast or a workout or walking your dog or dropping the kids off at school. I actually like to take that time for a free write, a little jazz music and a blank word document. I prefer that type of warm up before I connect to the world. I don't want to be influenced by the external world... just yet. As soon as I'm done, it's breakfast and quickly triaging the day's work before taking a walk. It's sort of like I'm tricking my mind into thinking that I'm walking to the office. Because I go outside, I actually have to get dressed and not look like I rolled out of bed. It sounds weird, or corny, or hokey, but the clothes and walk are just a couple of ways to switch things up and make you conscious of the fact that you're leaving home and putting that behind you while you attend to business affairs at the office.

Once in a while, if it's a big assignment, I'll wear a really nice shirt when I sit down to write. During college, one of my fraternity brothers used to wear a suit and a tie when he took exams in  order to remind himself that its a big fucking deal. That guy went on to be a successful doctor, so it worked... for him. I'm the kind of person who thinks you should be comfortable when taking a test, but then again, I went to Catholic School and had to wear an uncomfortable uniform while I took exams.

Going to work in an office is like playing a role in a movie with costumes and everything. You're wearing clothes you normally don't wear (especially if its a suit) and act differently. You act more mature and professional at work... more PC and more vanilla and slightly more like the person you project on your resume.

We're all actors. Like that Shakespeare line about the world is a stage and whatnot. With the rise of the Surveillance State, we're on camera 24/7, so you better start getting your chops down quickly and pretend to look like a noble citizen, otherwise you'll get locked up in Gitmo with Jihadists, or worse... a drone will drop a precision guided missile onto your house while you're taking a dump.

So, I don't sit around in my underwear... but sometimes it's tough being at home because there's too many distractions. When I'm in a groove, then I lose time while writing. Those are magical times when you're channeling stuff. I wished it were that easy all the time... just turn on the tap and let the inspiration flow. But most of the time it's like desperately digging wells in search of water. The majority of the time, when I try to write it's like a barren wasteland with all those empty holes. Digging nowhere.

On days when I can't get anything going, I feel like Jack Nicholson from The Shinning. Like those scenes when he's throwing the rubber ball everywhere. On the bad days, I feel like that all the time. Which is almost all the time.

Most of the time Nicky comes home from work and I'm sitting on the couch, toking weed, and watching sports (happens to be baseball now). At least I'm not in my underwear.

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