This is an ideal moment to talk about my typical writing day, because the pandemic has changed it dramatically from what it was before.
Until recently, I avoided working from home as much as possible. Instead, after dropping off my three children at school I would usually sit down and begin writing at one of half a dozen coffee shops — either in my neighbourhood, or more often, somewhere in downtown Toronto. I love my beautiful city, and love walking through the crowds of people on their way to presumably more important jobs at the top of all the skyscrapers.
As soon as I finished a story, my routine was to get up and walk — sometimes for an hour or more — to a completely different area of downtown and find another coffee shop, or a library, or even a picnic table in a park or at the beach if the weather was warm enough. I write a lot of content marketing materials for tech companies, and much like poetry, you can do this almost anywhere.
The one challenge was having enough quiet to conduct phone interviews for my work as a journalist. I solved that with a company called , which finds bars and restaurants that are normally closed during working hours and sets them up with power cords and other accoutrements to turn them into impromptu coworking spaces.
This allowed me to see even more of the city — sometimes I would spend time in six different neighbourhoods a day. If I was covering a conference for my publication, , I would be at hotels or convention centres, where there were often special rooms for media to set up and work.
Since COVID-19, of course, that’s all gone, though hopefully only temporarily. I did have a desk in my bedroom, but it faced a wall and I never used it, and just before the pandemic we had actually moved it to my daughter’s bedroom because she loved it.
I’ve wound up spending most days sitting in our dining room. It’s an elegant space, and when I open the curtains I can look out our picture window at all the people taking their daily walks. We pulled our children from school, so while my boys are in the kitchen or upstairs, my daughter is often sitting at my side as though we’re at one of those communal tables you’d see in a library, or a Starbucks.
My schedule is different almost every day and often involves juggling several deadlines at once. I may be ghostwriting a blog post for an executive, then doing interviews for a 360 Magazine story, then having a Zoom call with a client about creating an eBook or a video script. Later I might be developing an episode for my podcast, , which applies media criticism to the journalistic-style work many brands now produce. Or I might be writing a post for my fashion and style blog, , taking self-portraits in our bedroom to add some art if I need some.
The often happens during lunch hours, or in the evenings after the children are asleep and my wife (an Anglican priest) works on her sermon or holds video meetings with her ministry teams. Occasionally, though, a line or an entire stanza will come into my head without having scheduled any time in my calendar, and I’ve learned to drop everything and listen carefully.
This the thing: the government, the health-care system and any responsible citizen wants us to stay indoors right now, but the Muse doesn’t care. She is willing to work with you absolutely anywhere. For the moment, the city is no longer my office, but the world is still hers.
Shane Schick is the founder of a publication for customer experience design professionals called 360 Magazine, host of the Owned Media Observer podcast, a fashion and style blogger at Menswhere and a content marketer who has worked with Microsoft, Salesforce, IBM, Samsung, Verizon and many others. A former columnist for the Globe and Mail and the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing Magazine, his poetry has appeared in literary magazines in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Africa. More: Twitter: @shaneschick