Let’s Talk with Cheryl Hollon

Falling into Writing
By Cheryl Hollon

When I retired early from a career in flight simulation engineering to pursue full-time writing, I knew some big changes were going to take place. Now that it’s been five years ago, I look back and I’m surprised at what was easy and what was challenging.

A gradual transition had been my plan all along. I stepped down from full-time engineering to work at part-time writing and then finally up to full-time writing. That transition took about three years but worked out perfectly for both me and my family.

Then there was a massive wardrobe challenge. Yep, that’s me in my engineering uniform of dark suit with white blouse. Indeed, I could write in my pajamas for the entire day if I wanted, but that didn’t work for me. I found that all I wanted to do was social media and the crossword puzzle. That didn’t get many words on the page.

My new dress code is a pair of trousers, a blouse, a scarf, casual flats and typically a hat. I’ve donated all but two of my business suits to charity. I love the relaxed feel of sweaters, jeans and occasionally dress shorts, but appreciate the lift to my spirit. See, the thing is that when I’m dressed for work, I work. Words now appear on the page like magic.

I also found that I needed a place to work that was isolated from my home life. At first, I accomplished this with a wooden shed in the backyard. But when we moved to an apartment downtown, using a bedroom as an office wasn’t enough. I was always at work and always at home. My word count progress was dismal.

Then I walked by a business that advertised co-working space. What on earth was that? It turns out to be a shared open plan office space with a completely quiet floor. I could work at a professional office only three blocks from home. Perfect! My productivity went through the roof and now my work life is separated from my home life.

Life is good!

What is your most recent life-style transition?

In addition, our October contest is going on right now! Be sure to click over to enter. One winner is selected every month, and you may select one mystery from the six in the prize vault. Click here.

Comments

  1. When I worked from home and lived in a small apartment, shared with my partner and her dog, the “office” was a corner of the living room. What a delightful change it was when we move to a larger space and dedicated a large bedroom as our office. We each had our own space (and plenty of it) and, what was most important, the ability to “shut the door on work” and go back to our living space. That has been what’s most important to me–a place for work that’s separate from the rest of my living space. I occasionally will bring the laptop to the living room and work there, but generally prefer to work in “the office.” When I shut the light out, work is done, yet I can choose to go back to it easily should I want.

  2. Having my husband retire last year was the biggest lifestyle transition to impact my life. I’m used to having the house to myself and total quiet all day, which I need to write. Now there’s another person in the house, and he’s constantly interrupting me. Men! They think the world revolves around them.

  3. I love the idea of an office in walking distance of your place. I walk out to my back porch or sometimes the table set up under the coconut palms as a change of pace from my home office. I feel like I am ALWAYS in a state of transition. This coming year, it’s going to be the year of saying NO, LOL. I’m taking a break in 2020 from obligations other than the day job and book contracts (ha, let’s see how long that lasts!).

  4. maggietoussaint says

    As a scientist, I had a very strong work ethic, in the office, the lab, the field, and on travel. There was no question I would put my best foot forward. Transitioning to being a writer and learning to be less than 100% methodical took a while. Lots of wrong turns, but a wonderful journey of self-discovery. I have learned to write anywhere, but I write best in silent mode. Coming from the generation before laptops, I learned to work at a desk and chair, but as I expanded my creativity options, I unplugged my laptop (oh the horror!) and wrote in different chairs and rooms of my house. For me the clothing never entered into my “work-requirement” mode for writing, just the mental “dressing” if you will. The connection between my journey and yours is recognizing our needs and doing the best to optimize conditions to free our minds to write. Glad you found what works for you!

    • Discovering that I need silence was the biggest game changer for my productivity. I found out at the Outer Banks retreat in 2017. Best week of writing EVER!

  5. Very interesting about the co-working space. I do have a dedicated home office and it works for me. However, after Handsome sold his business, he rented an office and goes to work everyday.

    • Finding my work office has been the biggest challenge and also the biggest reward. I love going to work everyday followed by the excitement of going home. Wonderful!

  6. My lifestyle transition is about to arrive when our daughter has her first baby later this month. We’ll have to consider if we want to move closer.

  7. What a great idea. I’ve had no problem giving up the clothing, but the word count has diminished since the mister retired, too….