It’s been about a month since I started my job and my routine has pretty much settled down. I’ve been doing work that is actually required for the company now and it’s getting busier. So how does each day go, working from home as a medical writer?
I wake up around 7:00 AM either to my alarm or on my own. I go to the bathroom, and then head to the kitchen to make my breakfast.
My breakfast has been oatmeal for the longest time. It’s comforting to me. It has to be just the right consistency. I don’t have anything else with it in terms of food.
I also require my morning coffee. It’s coffee, stevia, and half and half. No deviations. If it’s cold (which is like 2 months out of the year), I use my Keurig to make a cup of coffee using my reusable K-cup. If it’s warm, like the other 10 months of the year, I have a nice homemade or purchased (Stok brand) cold brew that I dilute with ice and add the stevia and half and half to.
I just sit at the table and eat/drink very slowly. I play on my phone and zone out. I like slow, quiet mornings. I like a nice morning breeze and to circulate air, so the windows are open.
I don’t do much to get ready before the work day starts. I just wash my face with water, do my skincare routine, slap on moisturizer, some sunscreen/tinted primer stuff, and lip balm. And touch up my brows. I change into a top that would be acceptable to be viewed Zoom. As for my bottoms, I’m probably wearing black yoga pants.
This is when I start work, aka sit in front of my computer and figure out what’s going on that day. After checking my emails and work messages, I usually just pick up where I left off the day before.
For my job, I prepare informational materials about drugs and diseases that the clients want us to make. These topics have nothing to do with my Ph.D. research, and so they always entail a lot of learning. I learn new things every day. It’s an endless cycle of finding references or looking things up, writing down the concept, and citing it. All while considering how it’ll come across to the reader, who’s using our materials to learn.
It’s very education-heavy and I like that about the job. I’m actually thinking about how the reader will take in what I write and how to best educate them with design, flow, organization, visuals, etc.
It feels way more useful and practical than if I was writing a paper (if you follow me on Twitter you know I have a ton of issues with the academic publishing process/publication system).
I have Overactive Bladder so it’s been so nice being able to work from home. I cannot imagine commuting after eating breakfast and going to a different place to work and having to pee like every 20 minutes and constantly parking at random places to pee and going to the bathroom past coworkers every 20 minutes to pee and just generally being so inconvenienced. It’s really a blessing I get to be 8 steps from my own restroom. That’s something that made this job super worth it for me.
I have an entire blog post about how I developed Overactive Bladder during grad school if you want to learn more about my experience with it!
So yep, my morning starts off with that, and there might be some Zoom meetings where I learn about new projects or new tasks and get on the same page with my coworkers and everyone involved in the assignment. Like check-in meetings.
But generally in the mornings I’m feeling good, feeling motivated, and getting my research and writing going.
I chose an arbitrary time like 10:00 AM for this time point, but it could be 9:30 AM, it could be 10:45 AM, it could be any time between 8:30 AM and lunch which is coming up at 12:00PM.
I take some sort of 10-15 minute break, where I stop working and go to the couch to relax. Or I get water and sit at the kitchen table and play on my phone. Or I go to the balcony and spend 10 minutes just inspecting all my container garden plants (if you’re a planty person, you know what I’m talking about). I love me a good plant inspection. I might even deadhead some flowers, prune things, water things, and rearrange/turn pots.
I just know myself as a worker really well at this point. I guess my Ph.D. came in handy for one thing. I know I can’t sit at my desk from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM and work consistently, nonstop, with no distractions, with no breaks. So I make good use of this break.
And then it’s back to working at my desk! Hydrating is important and I like to have another cup of water before lunch, so I make sure to do that. Even though my bladder condition doesn’t like it very much. I get migraines with even the slightest hint of dehydration so I make sure to pace and schedule my water intake.
It would suuucccck to get a migraine and be out of commission for even half a day because I just started this job. I have some time off accumulated but I don’t want to use it for something I can prevent, so I’ve been trying my best to stay on top of it.
Lunchtime! I meal prep every Saturday morning, so my lunches are always ready to go in the fridge in individual meal prep containers. I don’t need to do much in the kitchen on weekdays. I just take my meal out of the fridge and if it needs to be microwaved, I microwave it. I might grab a banana or apple to eat with it, and I’ll pour myself a cold drink, but that’s pretty much it.
After lunch, I’ll make myself a cup of tea if I’m not feeling super full. Caffeinated, of course! I’ll take that to my desk but I’ll drink it pretty quickly.
Now, it’s back to work. Even though my bladder bothers me every 10 minutes after meals, at least I’m only 8 steps away from the restroom.
I usually have a few things in the pipeline, so I switch up what I’m working on to feel a bit refreshed if something I was working on before lunch feels like it’s getting stale. I might read up on a study, focus on visuals, edit someone else’s work, etc.
I usually don’t listen to music when I work, because music’s reserved for mindless work. And so far in my medical writing job, that hasn’t existed. All the work I’ve been doing has been pretty brain-intensive. Maybe once I get into the swing of things and get faster at making the product I make, I could maybe start listening to music when I’m doing certain parts. But overall, I’m pretty focused and constantly using my brain.
I am definitely not sitting all day in front of the computer screen. I get up occasionally to stretch my legs, take a break, and think about something else for a few minutes. I like to wander around my apartment and poke around at my plants, water them, get water for myself, change into other clothes, open or close windows, etc.
But otherwise, I’m just plugging away at work!
From my experience so far, my medical writing job is equally about learning as it is about writing. I don’t just write about things I’m an expert on. I write about anything and everything that’s assigned to me.
Like I mentioned above, it’s never about what I did my Ph.D. on! It’s stuff I have to actively, constantly be learning about and checking references for. I’m paid to be right, I’m paid to be quick, and I’m paid to be good at communicating those things.
So it’s a lot of learning and that’s something I wanted to emphasize! A lot of the time I’m just reading review papers. I mentioned this in my My First Month as a Medical Writer post, but it’s been important to deprogram that need to look up and read EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW about the topic I’m assigned to.
Time is money in industry, so I can’t be dawdling about reading 10 review papers from the past 5 years before I make up my mind about how I phrase something. I have to find a legitimate, fairly recent reference, write about it, and move along. It’s not wrong, but it’s not like I’m trying to become an expert in the field. So it’s different. I don’t mind it!
My hours end at 5:30PM. As soon as work ends, I slap on some sunscreen, change into walking clothes, and my partner and I go for a walk. It’s about an hour long and we just walk around the neighborhood. I like seeing all the plant life in peoples’ yards. It’s still bright out.
Eating a big lunch so I can get a walk in after work has been working well for me!
When I start feeling hungry, I pull out one of the meal prep dinners from the fridge, heat it up, and eat it with maybe a La Croix. This would be a great time for alcohol but I don’t drink (5 years sober!) so my go to drinks are Diet Coke, La Croix, homemade milk tea, stuff like that.
My partner and I usually watch YouTube or a TV show while eating dinner together. The shows we like run the entire gamut. I’ve been enjoying Severance lately! We also love Attack on Titan.
I wind down the day by taking a bath, doing my nails, watching more TV, working on this hobby (blog + Twitter), Redditing (I’m a Reddit mod for a small private subreddit if you can believe that!), doing more planty stuff, etc.
I have to say, one awesome thing about having a remote job is that I can go ALL OUT with my nail hobby. I can do the wildest nails and no one from work can see them. It’s awesome!
Sometimes, my partner and I would go to the local strip mall and grab boba or something, but otherwise we stay pretty low key at home.
I’m in bed by this time, and I just scroll around on my phone until we doze off.
Hopefully this post gave you a peek into what life is like as a medical writer working from home. I tried to include random, mundane things about life too so it was more realistic.
The job is really just a lot of reading, learning, writing, and sitting around. So I try to stay active and go on walks, or take regular breaks to move my legs.
It’s important to keep in mind that Medical Writing is a huge category of various types of products. I go through it in more detail in my 7 non-labwork industry jobs post where it’s 1 of the 7 jobs I go into detail about.
You can also learn more about Medical Writing here, it’s a REALLY good resource for all things Medical Writing! American Medical Writers Association: Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Medical Writer
I’m currently working on making my workspace a bit more comfortable. I ordered a new chair, like a legit office chair, and I am reorganizing my desk a bit. I’ll make a post about that someday!
I also have a couple job-related posts in the works – one about more non-labwork STEM jobs, and another about transferable skills that I wish I had or that I’m glad I had when I was applying for jobs (ever heard of copywriting?). I’m thinking of also doing an “internships and side hustles for industry” post.
The job-related posts take a lot longer to write than these anecdotal posts, and I want to actually be having fun when I’m writing blog posts so I like to pace myself. Plus I want them to be genuinely helpful and worth the read! Keep your eye out for those.
Anyway, until next time!