Daily #82: From home

Today I got to officially work from home for the first time.

It was quite simple really – I was suddenly asked to write two high-volume pieces (ebooks) with only a couple of weeks notice. Wanting to get them out of the way, I just asked my boss if I could take today as a work from home day, and he agreed.

The only thing (literally the only thing) I don’t like about my job is that there doesn’t seem to be a way of arranging a consistent work from home schedule. Despite us all being given laptops, and my work primarily being something I complete independently, as well as the necessary communication channels that facilitate remote work having already been established, it’s just not something that’s offered.

I asked my colleagues about this, and they said that “a few people have like one day of WFH a week, but they’ve been here for ten years”. It’s a shame, as I think it would really be an improvement to my workflow at times – hence why I requested to stay at home today. I got a good amount done, as I was uninterrupted by colleagues asking for odd bits of work.

I think my ideal arrangement at this point in time would be for me to be able to work from home 2-3 days each week. This would allow for me to be in work regularly – I see the benefit of being in the office at least some of the time, as some things move more freely when they’re being collaborated on in person, and meetings are a good way of catching up. But I’d still spend a good amount of time working at home, which works with my main goal – to get a dog.

I’ve probably discussed this goal before, but I don’t remember where. Getting a dog of my (our) own is one of the main things I really want to do within the next 2-3 years at the latest. We’ve bought a house, which was one of the two criteria we needed to fulfil to be able to get one – the other is for our work lives to match the dog owner lifestyle.

I’m aware that plenty of people have a dog while both adults are working full time. The money earned from them working allows the dog to attend daycare, or get dog walkers – or there’s family close by which look after the dog during the day. While these are all feasible for us, it’s more of a matter of preference for me. While this might sound selfish, I’d like for myself and my partner to be the ‘primary’ owners of the dog, and part of me would probably be jealous if somebody else (such as a family member) was having as much time with said dog as I was.

Sounds silly, I know – but I can’t help it. Part of me also thinks it can be a little irresponsible to get a dog when neither of the owners are home most of the day – especially a puppy, which is what we’d be in the market for.

You might be wondering what breed of dog I’d like. There are many, but we both agree that our first dog will be a golden retriever. My grandmother had one when I was young called Wilf, and he was like a lion. I’ve loved them ever since then – and they’re fairly easy to train and very friendly, which is exactly what I’d like in a dog.

It doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by gorgeous dogs. Here’s a few pictures of them!

Daily #77: New look

You might have noticed that the appearance of the blog has changed. After revamping the look of my desk on the weekend, I figured my online space could use a similar treatment.

I host this blog on WordPress.com, not WordPress.org. They’re different, I swear! WordPress.org involves downloading an open-source version of WordPress, and finding somewhere to host it yourself or through another web hosting company. This gives you the advantage of being able to style things exactly as you like, and install themes and plugins to suit your needs. It can also help save on costs as the the hosting plan is just providing the server behind the website, not the website itself.

WordPress.com is WordPress’s own hosting service. You pay a monthly subscription, and you get access to a version of WordPress hosted by them. There are five different plans to choose from, which start at free, then incrementally increase in price and features. Everything is set up ready for you, and can be edited easily using the online portal. However, using WordPress.com limits the styling you can use, and you’re unable to install third-party plugins unless you’re paying for the Business plan (the second most expensive) in the name of security.

I value convenience and I don’t want to be responsible for my own hosting and setup, so I’ve gone with WordPress.com. It means I’m limited with how the blog looks, but I hope that I’ve done a decent job with what I’ve been given (tell me what you think about it!).

But even though it’s got a fresh coat of paint, all my blog content is exactly the same. I’ve freshened up my social links and portfolio page, but all the dailies are still there!

There’s something about changing your surroundings, whether they’re in real life or online, which makes you feel like you have something brand new. Whether it’s tidying up a cluttered room, or changing your desktop background, it gives that sensation of a new start, and has a great effect on your state of mind – at least it does for me.

I’m keeping on track with my latest writing goal – I’m managing 1000 words a day on my draft. I do most of this at work, during my lunch hour, then catch up on the rest at home. I haven’t decided how much I’m capable of on the weekends; I’m aiming for a minimum of 3,000 over the two days of each weekend, but last weekend I managed 6,000. Setting manageable goals is good for two reasons – they’re more feasible to achieve, maximising my positivity and minimising failures.

The other reason it works is that it’s much easier to beat my goals when they’re lower, so that feeling of overachieving comes more often. I think it’s important to set realistic and feasible goals, because if they’re too high and you consistently fail to reach them, you’re going to associate that negative emotion with whatever you’re working on.

On that note, I’m going to finish off my 1,000 words for the day, and go and read some more of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’ll review it once it’s done – it’s my first time reading this one!

Daily #74: Thirty thousand

Today, I’m going to start off by inserting two pictures. Here is the first:

As you can see, it’s a screenshot of a Google Document showing thirty thousand words. It happens to contain the first draft of my novel. And here is the second image:

This is a screenshot from the ‘Insights’ page of the WordPress admin panel. It shows the total number of words written on this blog.

Therefore, considering that number is fewer than 500 words away from thirty thousand, and that I write 500 words a day on this blog, once I publish this post, I will have reached 30,000 words on both my novel draft and this blog on the same day. Talk about a coincidence.

I’ve written about hitting milestones quite often on this blog, as both of these activities are things I’ve never done before. But as I add to these numbers, I can feel myself both improving my writing skills, and increasing my confidence. Before I started these projects, I considered myself a writer although I’d never finished anything longer than a short story. I’d never spent more than a couple hours a week working on my writing, and it had never really been one of my hobbies.

Since I began these two projects, I’ve finally been able to call myself a writer and not feel that niggling doubt every time. I spend at least an hour working on this blog, my draft, or both each day, and more often than not it shoots past that. I’m part of an amazing, supportive and constructive community, and feel at home discussing the work of myself and others. I have an active interest in improving, rather than assuming I’m fine as I am. In school, I think they called this a ‘growth mindset’.

One of the other things I’ve learned is that I can’t wait for a time when I ‘feel like’ writing. I always let that get in my way in the past, but now I’ve had to write as a job, I know that I must write regardless of how I feel. Moreover, I’m perfectly capable of writing well enough despite not being ‘in the mood’.

However, it hasn’t felt like as much of a slog as I thought it would. I actively want to write more. The first thought I had when I checked the latest word count on my draft is just that I wanted to add even more, despite writing 3,000 words today. I’m excited about getting back to it tomorrow, which I most certainly will. I’m aware that it won’t be like this throughout the whole draft, but I’m enjoying it for now.

And of course, I’m don’t intend to stop. My word target for my novel draft is around 80,000 words, or until the story is completed. And as for this blog, I don’t intend to stop in the near future – it’ll be a continuous project, no matter what else I’m up to. I’ll be going away soon with limited access to the internet, so I’m working on pre-writing some of the posts for that week. I refuse to miss a day!

I’m proud of my progress so far, but right now, I’m glad to give my hands a break. Until tomorrow.