Publishers Weekly freelancer talks writing from home

Our writing game plan—our process—matters. Without sturdy micro-practices we don’t write. Just a wee bit important, right?

Freelancers like today’s guest Ann Byle know and use practices that get the writing done. They must. Ann has gotten a great deal of writing done while raising four kids.

Ann writes for Grand Rapids Magazine and Publishers Weekly, and is the author of several books including The Revell Story and Christian Publishing 101. She also coauthors and is working on Two Lives, One Lifetime with a victim of prostitution.

Ann’s newest book, The Joy of Working at Home, is a joint project with three other freelancers. This book offers best practices from creating useful workspace and using helpful technology to setting boundaries and blending work with family.

After working for a publisher and a newspaper, you moved into freelance writing. What drew you into freelancing?

Becoming a freelance writer worked best for our family as my husband began his teaching career. I was able to be home with our children and build a writing career. It wasn’t easy blending motherhood and writing, but it was worth the extra effort.

For some time you didn’t have an actual writing room. How did you improvise?

I worked where I could: first at a desktop computer in a chilly basement “office,” then at a desk under the basement stairs, and then in a designated office space in our bedroom.

As kids started to move out, I claimed a bedroom. My own office is a wonderful thing!

What are several habits you use that helped you succeed in writing from home?

Working from home is always a balancing act. I learned to juggle several stories at a time amid the responsibilities; developed the ability to focus on writing amid chaos (working in a newsroom helped a lot); and decided to let some things go, like a spotless house and chef-worthy meals.

In The Joy of Working at Home, you talk about the notion “prompts” that serve the writing process. But what exactly are “prompts”?

Prompts are things you do to get yourself in the work mindset. Getting dressed in the morning, grabbing that cup of coffee, sitting down at your computer, and checking your email: all of these little things focus your mind.

With so many working from home now, creating prompts that function best for you helps you get into the work routine each day.

Ann and her co-authors are excited to share their expertise in The Joy of Working at Home as many people struggle to learn how to balance home, family, and work. The book is available here as an Amazon e-book for $2.99.

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