Last week a show I had been working on abruptly finished up, and I drove home feeling like the high schooler who’d been dumped by his girlfriend a week before prom.
Not because the work was so enthralling or the pay was so great – though both were fine. But because the job came with a really nice office.
It was down the hall from a full stocked kitchen (with excellent coffee), and had a window that overlooked a cool, shaded patio.
Boy, do I miss it.
When you work as a freelance writer in advertising or entertainment, a lot of the assignments you land allow you to work “off-site.” This means instead of showing up every morning in the offices of the company that’s employing you, you’re free to work anywhere you want. You don’t have to worry about traffic, arriving on time, or dressing appropriately– hell, you don’t have to worry about showering. As long as the work gets done on time and it’s good, no one cares.
Some employers, however, insist that you work onsite – which, more often than not, means you’re stationed in a vast cubicle farm underneath banks of fluorescent lights, or in an unused conference room that’s doubling as a storage closet.
Most writers, of course, overwhelmingly prefer the off-site option, for all the obvious reasons: there’s no one leaning over your shoulder, you can keep your own schedule, and it’s easier to goof off. (Which is actually a critical part of the writing process. But that’s another blog post.)
Call me an an iconoclast, but I prefer working onsite.
For one thing, I think the work is always better when people sit together in a room and figure stuff out. When you communicate just by phone or email, things inevitably get weird.
Plus, as a writer, I spend enough time on my own already. The people at the places where I work are smart and engaging, and involved in interesting things. It’s inspiring to spend time with them.
Most significantly, though, is this: I like having somewhere to go. It brings structure to my day. And the work feels more meaningful when I go somewhere special to do it.
(Look around the next time you go to a Starbucks and you’ll see that I’m not alone in this thinking. There’s a freelance writer with a laptop on every table.)
As I write this, I’m sitting on the porch of my house on a quiet, cool, picture-perfect Southern Californian afternoon. It’s nice, I suppose. But imagine how great this piece would be if I wrote it in a cubicle.