The land was cold and unforgiving, no longer held in civilizations warm embrace. A 20something man lays defeated in the centre of the room, home working freelancers“How many years has it been? Am I the last?” These, and many equally dark thoughts circle round in his head like a badly choreographed ball. He glances at the Skype phone attached to the far wall, once a tool for communication with the rest of humanity, reduced to a worthless trinket. Worthless because in spite of all his anger, rage and ultimately sorrow – it wouldn’t ring, it couldn’t.

His gaze narrows on the darkened wall the now useless paper weight hanged upon, that few feet of brick and mortar were all that stood between him, and whatever Ragnarök had obviously happened outside. Shifting position to simply stare at the ceiling, his mind became aware of the thing that’s been taunting him for… once again he gave up on figuring out a time scale, what did it even matter now?

But alone, he was not – It had been there since all this started. Tugging at the back of his mind constantly… daring him to look, perhaps drawn by either magic or simple morbid curiosity he rolled over to affix his gaze upon the monitor of the PC happily humming away on the floor beside him. It had been waiting, displaying it’s self proudly as if to gloat… the little yellow network icon of No Internet Access.

“I hate you“ he managed between sobs, then pulled his knee’s up under his chin… he was alone and civilization was gone.

I’m Wolf Vanberg, Freelance writer of things. The scene you’ve just read is based upon a true story and is an all too real horror for writers and freelance/contractors alike.

Isolation is potentially one of the hardest challenges you’ll face when working in a home office, writing, specifically freelance writing is an inherently solitary practise. Few distractions with the added benefits of cult/bathrobe comfyness are indeed major advantages when attempting to focus on a project, however there is also one major disadvantage to this approach as well.

Leading internet people agree that “isolation” is a social construct and therefore a fallacy. But other more useful people on the internet agree that isolation can cause:

  • Loneliness
  • Creation of a situation whereby, the lack of structure inherent within writing (freelancing on the whole) is depriving you of much needed feedback.

As such, I present the following steps as a frame work to combat everyday isolation. Warning – as many of these steps will require social interaction, some of you might be forced out of your comfort zone. But don’t worry, that’s what comfort eating and rampant drinking is for.

Did you know there are other places that aren’t your place of residence? And that these other places, can have freelancers just like you?

There’s a growing trend in the 1099 economy (freelance economy for none US readers) for the creation of Co-working sites (also known as co-working circles). These can be offices or rooms that freelance professionals gather to work. Most will charge a modest fee to set up shop in but you gain in return: people who “get it” when it comes to freelancing, credible feedback for your work and the potential for face to face networking.

Just because you don’t have a boss, doesn’t mean you don’t have somebody to answer to. Take responsibility for yourself, your time keeping and your business.

Don’t misunderstand the situation, working from home doesn’t make you free from the shackles of a schedule. It affords you the freedom to create your own schedule, plan out your day via a list or timetable and stick to it. This becomes even more important when it comes to meeting those ever important deadlines, remember one of the few things we actually own in this world is our reputations. What’s yours saying about you?

You spent months creating a social network, use it?

We live in the age of 24/7 connectivity, because of the internet the world has never been smaller. Reaching out to your social network friends affords the same benefits as a co-working circle, but it’s there 24/7 365 days a year. With the rise of professional aimed social networks such as LinkedIn you can have thousands of industry savvy friends just a click away.

Break the silence

Silence can indeed be deafening, but Netflix is the mother of all distractions. The answer for me was music. Random fact: did you know that the ambient music found within most games is specifically designed to promote focus and progression?  Be it the battlefield dubstep or 8bit remakes they make for outstanding BGM (back ground music) to your work day.

The Ragnarök didn’t happen, trust me the outside is still there.

I consider myself to be the prime suspect in the breaking of this freelance directive. Once I really bite into a project I often forget about anything else (great for progress, bad for health/social life) I’ve toted the phrase “screw circadian rhythm” more times than popular characters die in A Game of Thrones. But it’s important for your social and mental well being to get out and about sometimes, coffee houses tend to have free Wi-Fi and indeed – coffee, coffee that could be yours if only you’d leave the house.

Remember why you started doing this in the first place.

If you’re anything like me (and you most likely are to be even reading this) a driving factor in the choice to go freelance was the allure of flexibility. You have the option to go do “stuff” your 9 to 5 friends don’t really get the chance to. Go visit a museum or go hiking just because? Remember when things are working and progress is being made, it’s just as important to not fall off the wagon due to burning out. It’s often been said that culture is medication for the mind and soul, (leaving the philosophical debate of the soul to one side for now) finish what you have to – then go clear your mind. Because tomorrow you get to do this all over again.