I am a very stubborn and impulsive person. I always have been, and I probably always will be. And, although these attributes serve me well as an entrepreneur, they make me one horrible employee. I mean, I am an exceptionally bad employee… managers worst nightmare, hard-headed and contrary. I believe in doing things my way, and on my own time, and my past employers frowned upon this attitude. I remember walking around one job telling people what I wasn’t going to do for $10.50 an hour. I would proudly proclaim that I’ve done enough work for that price and if they wanted more out of me, they would have to produce a few more dollars. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to work from home, and for myself, so I would quit my job every couple of years and start the journey to self-made millions…
I was so delusional…
Not about the millions, trust me… I’m going to make millions. I was delusional about my ability to work from home. It is such a romantic idea. You wake up, wash your face, make your coffee, sit down at your desk and then proceed to change the world.
The problem was, I had no fucking discipline. I was so easily distracted by social media, Netflix, cartoons, my family, puffy clouds, and all shiny objects. I could not pull it together enough to get things done. I miss deadline after deadline. I would market sporadically and barely promote my work. Weeks morphed into months without me making a substantial amount of money to take care of home. It was depressing, and it was so dysfunctional.
When I worked for other people I would never be home, so my house stayed relatively clean. I can't say when I turned into a slob, but my house frequently looked like a tornado laid waste to it. Eventually, I would have to go back to work. I would clean up my place, wash and iron all my nursing scrubs, and clock in at a job I hated. This cycle would continue for years until I finally had enough. I began binging on business and self-improvement books. I logged onto youtube university and watched everything I could about successfully working from home. Here is one of my favorites.
Learning how to focus and be self-disciplined helped me immensely on my quest to work from home, however, my bad habits didn't hinder my friend and fellow author, John H. Howard's quest to work from home had an entirely different nemesis.
After more than a decade working in retail and management, I came to the realization that, as an introvert, working directly with people wasn’t the best choice for me. It was draining, exhausting. But I was inspired by a friend who worked part-time from home in the medical transcription field to pursue something closer to home. So I made the commitment to make it happen for me. After three years of self-guided study — in between relocating multiple times, changing jobs more than once, buying a house, and starting a family — in 2005 I made the transition to medical transcription myself. By mid-2006, I was working from home full-time. Finally, I was living my dream! Of course, that was when reality hit.
Working from home has obvious benefits: Saving on gas, vehicle wear-and-tear, and your clothing budget; you can work in your pajamas and scratch those hard-to-reach places without worrying about shocked looks from your coworkers; most at-home jobs have a fairly flexible schedule; and, naturally, when you’re finished with your work day, you’re already home. The commute time can’t be beaten!
The flip-side to that (of course there’s a flip-side) is that some work-from-home jobs take all these perks into account and adjust your pay accordingly. Also, you have to be extremely focused and be able to shut out all those little distractions that interfere — personal email, social media, text messaging, non-work related phone calls, etc. In addition, working from home requires a lot of training — not only on your part but also on that of your family and friends. Because naturally, when you work from home, you’re always available. I once had a friend call me unexpectedly during my shift and, despite repeatedly explaining that I was on the job, kept me on the phone for a solid three hours (I got really good at not picking up the phone after that). I’ve also had family members say, “If you had a real job…” Never mind that my job pays real bills, puts real food on my table for my family, and puts real gas in our car. Maybe the single-most challenging aspect of working from home is setting firm and clear boundaries.
In the end, despite some of the inherent challenges, making the decision to work from home was one of the best career choices I ever made and one I’ve never regretted. It has moved with me through living in multiple states, I can take the job with me when I travel, and it’s flexible enough that when I have to rearrange my schedule, I usually can. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for anyone with strong dedication and focus and who thrives on working independently, an at-home career might be the right choice.
Here is a video on setting boundaries for family and friends
In short, working from home isn't a cakewalk. It takes discipline, focus, and firm boundaries. I hope this helps anyone thinking of leaving the rat race! Now let's dig into John's writing business. I absolutely love learning about other writer's processes.
How would you describe your writing process and did it change after you published your first book?
Generally, I’m not the fastest writer. Sometimes, it takes a long time for a concept to incubate before I start working on it. On the other hand, sometimes an idea hits me over the head and won’t stop bashing me until I write it down. Once I devote myself to a project, though, I basically just sit down and start writing, keeping my major plot points in mind as landmarks. I’m very much a seat-of-my-pants writer because one thing I enjoy most about the writing process is letting the story take me where it wants to go. My technique hasn’t changed substantially since being published, but the one thing I want to work on going forward — especially since I have several projects on the docket for the next few years — is to start outlining a story in advance to speed up the process.
What are you currently working on, and do you want your future book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Right now I’m in the final editing process for a contracted novel entitled “Black Sheep Chronicles: Shadow Dogs,” the first of a three-book science fiction series, which is a new venture for me. After that, I plan to revise and self-publish a YA fantasy short story that appeared in the “Ladies and Gentlemen of Fantasy 2014.” I’ve hired an illustrator to add some images and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Each of my works typically stands apart from one other, but I do have a few stories I plan to continue within their respective universes.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Seeing a project through to the end.
What does literary success look like to you?
My vision of literary success is the same as my view of success in any field — being able to earn a living off of your passion. I’m not there yet, but I’m hoping one day I will be.
I invite you to read my novella, “Ordinary Heroes,” available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.
You can find me on the Interwebs in the following places:
Learn more about me and read an excerpt of “Ordinary Heroes” at my website, johnhowardbooks.com.
Follow my Facebook author page at facebook.com/authorjhhoward.
Finally, find my blog, which chronicles what’s going on in my life, my current projects, and just random thoughts, both deep and not so much, at johnhhoward.wordpress.com.
Facebook author page: facebook.com/authorjhhoward.
Health And Wellness
If you work from home you have to get up off your ass on the regular to keep your heart as healthy as possible... I like to do little 10-minute work out videos for good circulation.