How a work-from-home freelance writer found the coworking space of her dreams
I love writing. And working from home has its perks. (Mostly, pajamas.) Then, of course, there’s the fact that I can leave in the middle of the day for a boot camp with Joe Johnson, or a lunch meeting with a friend. Flexibility. It feels good.
But there’s only one way to get things accomplished. I hole up at home, hammering out word count, editing assignments, sending invoices — winning. While I listen to Sigur Ros on Pandora, my dog drops a tennis ball at my feet over and over again. Thud.... thud…. whine… thud.
For the longest time, I’ve been happy on my own. OK with the independence of it all. But there’s a good, productive kind of isolation — then there’s the soul-sucking kind. Trust me. After a year or two, dust bunnies laugh from the corners of your living room, telling you in their gritty voices that your work really isn’t all that good anyway, and you should probably take a nap or clean this house already.
All of that to say, the allure of pajamas wears off quick. So I began the journey of weighing all of my alternate options. Playing the field, so to speak.
I started with Nashville coffee shops. Here’s what I found: Some turn off their wifi. Some are too expensive. Others quickly turn into a madhouse, or smell funky after a while, or feel too loud or too quiet. Ultimately, I did find an ideal shop to work in — great views, great coffee, unlimited Internet. I felt like Goldilocks on the search for that perfect place that was “just right,” ignoring the fact that what I was really doing was kind of unethical in the first place. If you need an office, you should get an office.
The next logical progression, of course, was investing in a coworking space. As more and more people have chosen to work independently, the need for affordable, flexible office space has exploded. Nashville has at least 12 coworking spaces that I can think of off the top of my head (the Nashville Coworking Alliance includes quite a few of them). But I’m always pretty skeptical when it comes to new fads. Like the nerdy girl at the homecoming dance, I look at the coolest guy in the room with a raised eyebrow — interested, attracted, but pretty certain he’s going to screw me over.
So I did my due diligence. Spent some time here and there. Did a few tours. Stalked websites.
My “dates” with The Skillery stood out among the rest. I started by teaching a few classes on how other freelance writers can pitch stories to newspaper and magazine outlets. Then, when The Skillery opened its Germantown space this summer, I attended the open house, happy to see that the space included a coffee shop (Steadfast Coffee’s pop-up, free for members) and plenty of natural light. Then, I led an Office Hours session in the Skillery’s large conference room — a space big enough for me and 15 colleagues for a discussion on the peaks and pitfalls of the writing life. Camaraderie! Not to overplay the analogy, but I never felt pressured to do anything I felt uncomfortable with. Never felt “sold” or cajoled or strong-armed. The cool guy turned out to be nice, too.
One day, I was driving from one side of town to the other, I suddenly realized I couldn’t battle my dog and the dishes and the dust bunnies any longer. Like the girl in that rom-com movie you’ve been imagining this whole time — searching, searching, when the answer is right in front of her — I e-mailed The Skillery’s fearless leader, Matt, and told him that I was coming over. It was time to make this official.
I don’t want to overplay the analogy… OK, maybe I do. If you work from home and are ready for a change, I’d encourage you to step out on the dance floor. It’s OK to work alone. But you don’t have to be lonely anymore.