What’s life like when everyone else moves home with you?
When you’re a writer like Dan Szczesny, working from home (WFH) is business as usual until your entire family becomes full-time denizens of your workplace. Dan is well known around these parts as Associate Publisher of The Hippo and an active author and speaker. The quarantine forced changes on all of us and in Dan’s case he’s had to rebalance his writer’s needs with a newly full-time WFH spouse and return to the stay-at-home dad role he originated five years ago.
I’ve always seen Dan as a cheerleader for New Hampshire writers and his advice to relatively new writers may seem surprising but it comes from real experience. In this time of COVID19, “Don’t spend your time writing,” he says better to learn some new skills like video conferencing and digital online presentations. In his case, he is focusing on marketing and taking the time to really connect with his audience. We, his loyal fans, are right there with him as he experiments with teaching art appreciation to his 5-year-old daughter, Uma. From locker poses of the past to photoshoots conjuring up the likes of Frida Kahlo & Degas’ Little Dancer, Uma and all of us are experiencing a master class in modern art. Dan’s daily missives on Facebook strike a balance between staying connected and continually honing his craft.
In April, for National Poetry Month, he shared poetry and prose daily. Coming up next, in time for Father’s Day, he and his publisher Hobblebush Books will launch his new book, U & Me: Reflections from the Fatherhood Frontier. He will kick off the month of June with a Father’s Day pre-sale of the new book beginning June 2.
What’s the greatest lessons he’s learned these past few weeks? Connect even if you can’t have contact. Your circle of “OK-ness” goes beyond your immediate family when you share readings and tours of your writing space a la Neil Gaiman, or you re-jiggle your time management roadmap. Routine is overrated. If your life is happier, your writing will be better.
This observation serves all of us well. You can get more family time and more work done when you abandon the old rules of blocking time and life. Life is already different. Just seize the moment and keep going.