homework for writersHomework - It's Not a Dirty Word

by Ann Harth

It's interesting.

Utter the word 'homework' to most people under the age of seventeen. You will induce sneers, curled lips and muttered, colourful language. Sighs will escape and heads will shake. Eyes will roll and shoulders will sag. A dejected, beaten creature will slink away from you to escape the horrors that you've rudely evoked.

But then … school's out. The choice between work and hunger looms.

Presumably work is the lesser of the two evils and the routine begins. The alarm blasts you into the next room before it seems even legal to be awake. You pick yourself up and open your eyes. You stumble into furniture, computers and the seventeen books that you've almost finished reading. You stub your big toe on something and recall with affection some of the colourful mutterings of your high school days. You flick on the light.

After you have risen from your knees a second time, you uncover your face and blink like a newborn baby until the room begins to look familiar. By the time you are dressed and have had your first coffee, the radio announcer is wishing you a happy Monday.

Only five more days until the weekend, you think. I wish I could work from home!


It means something much different now. Working from home sounds wonderful.

  • It is.You don't get sacked if you're twenty minutes late sixteen days in a row.
  • You don't need permission to have next Thursday off to watch your youngest perform as a watermelon in the school play.
  • You can eat jam doughnuts at your desk.
  • You can play solitaire on your computer any time you like without worrying about the boss breathing in your ear. "Put your ace up and then get me a coffee.
  • You can wear your pyjamas and rainbow toe socks to work.
  • If you decide not to wear your pyjamas to work because someone is coming to fix the fridge, you can wear the same outfit two, three, seven days in a row (although it helps to change occasionally as the odour can be distracting).

Working from home is all of these things and more. Homework is the freedom to make choices.

BUT … with this freedom comes responsibility. If you have decided that eating jam doughnuts and working in your pyjamas is for you, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • You get paid when you work. Full stop. No holiday pay, sick days, personal days. Sure, take as many days off as you like, just don't expect to be paid for them.
  • It is up to you to market yourself. Paying work will not be placed in a neat pile in front of you. You have to find it. Sometimes this can be the hardest part of a home business.
  • Yes, you can choose the hours you want to work. You can work from midnight until 9:00 am if you choose, but I think you will find that when you work from home, at least in the beginning, you will be working longer shifts than nine to five.
  • It is impossible to leave your work and go home. You are home.
  • You must be careful to keep track of your own payments and any business-related costs. No one will accept your dockets for stationery supplies and reimburse you. Get an accountant.
  • If you live with a family or roommates, distractions will inevitably occur. Cows escape, dogs chew on shoes and kids get sick. The phone rings…a lot.
  • The temptation to procrastinate lurks in every dusty, spider-infested corner. If you are working from home, you are on-site. The domestic issues tend to be left up to you. Without the strength to focus, cleaning, feeding, driving children and mowing the lawn can drag you away from your young business until it is gasping for breath and begging for sustenance.

I work from home. I am an author, copyeditor, proofreader, teacher, mother, wife, farmer, cook, taxi-driver and cleaner. I am much better at some of these things than others.

In a series of articles, I would like to tell you how I came to love 'doing homework' and how you can too. I will provide tips on multi-tasking, time management, networking, marketing your skills, writing quotes, finding work, charging up your CV and meeting deadlines. Generally, I will write about how you can make the most of your talents from writing to proofreading.

Homework's not a dirty word anymore. It's still hard work, but with dedication, patience and the right attitude you can earn the freedom to make your own choices.

Your life will be your own.

© copyright Ann Harth. Comments and suggestions for specific topics pertaining to writing, editing or working from home are welcome. Please contact me at annharth@writing4success.com

Ann Harth is a freelance manuscript assessor, copyeditor, proofreader and ghostwriter as well as a published author. She writes in all genres of children's fiction from picture books to young adult novels as well as adult fiction and non-fiction. She has successfully completed several text-editing projects for university students and authors, and is the assistant fiction editor of www.moondance.com, a  literary on-line magazine. She is also on the creative writing staff of www.storydog.com, a website for children.

More information on the freelance services that Ann Harth offers can be found on her website at www.annharth.com.


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