Since starting this blog, I have had a couple of friends ask incredulously “Where do you find the time?” or, perhaps more pointedly, “How much time do you have to waste?”. Now, rather than being unkind (I think…) these people are genuinely curious, and wonder what sort of deal I did with the devil to extract additional hours from the day.
Of course, I have no extra hours (I asked for something completely different out of my devil’s deal, and pray you never find out what it is). I have no extra time. Rather, as I’m sure everyone reading this post does, I made use of my existing time.
I have combined two approaches to fitting writing into my life – both ideas that are stolen from other people:
- Squeezing moments; and
- Sacrificing time sinks.
Snatching forgotten moments… and squeezing
Chuck Wendig expresses it well here in his recent article ‘Ten things to never say to a writer’:
“Gosh, I Wish I Had Time To Write.”
“You do have the time to write. You have 24 hours in your day and I have 24 hours in my day. Oh, what’s that? You have a job and kids and important things to do? Yeah, because nobody else has those — that’s just you, holding up the American economy and the nuclear family single-handedly. Hey! Guess what? Everybody has shit to do. Kids, dogs, jobs, second jobs, flower beds to weed, checks to write, groceries, Facebook, porn, cooking, cleaning, sleeping, fucking. We’re all living life one minute at a time. It’s not that you don’t have time to write. It’s that you do not consider it important enough to give it time. But I do. I carve little bits of meat and skin off the day’s flesh and I use every part of the animal. I use the time I take to write. Fifteen minutes here. A half-hour there. A lunch break. That’s how shit gets written.”
Essentially this is grabbing every opportunity, every break, every moment you have to yourself, and using it to write. I mentioned in a previous post that I carry a journal around, and use it anytime I am struck by the muse. Notes on the bus, notes at home when I should be watching the kids. I also try to type at work at lunch time whilst I eat.
But of course, by snatching these moments, you need to keep in mind
Sacrificing those time sinks to the writing gods
This time I’ll refer to an articleby Cracked Magazine, ‘Five ways you’re sabotaging your own life without knowing it‘:
It sounds obvious… (but) everybody (who) takes on a project… expresses it as a pure addition to their life. It’s, “I’ve decided I’m finally going to learn the saxophone!” Instead of, “I’ve decided I’m going to learn the saxophone instead of hanging out with my girlfriend!”
…There is no such thing as adding to it (the time in your day) — just sacrificing one thing for another.
This is why the “STOP WASTING YOUR TIME AND GO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE, MAGGOT!” method doesn’t work — you’re fooling yourself if you think you can find a bunch of extra time by drawing from a pool of hours you’re “wasting” right now. It doesn’t exist. Instead, you have to make the cold calculation that you’re going to do this instead of that:
“I’m going to go back to finish my degree, instead of spending time with my friends.”
“I’m going to spend more time with my partner and spend less time working, understanding that this will make me poorer.”
“I’m going to go climb a mountain and neglect my family while I train.”.
So every bit of snatched moment writing is me sacrificing something small – staring out the window, surfing the net, interacting with my workmates. Nothing that I miss.
But these snatched moments are not enough to get a blog out most days, as well as work on whatever I’m trying to write (currently a short story). So I have sacrificed larger things, things I do miss – I have sacrificed hours in front of the TV, sacrificed the hours I spent on the PlayStation, sacrificed the time I spent at home reading books (I still read – reading is critical to becoming a better writer – I just restrict my reading to the bus on the way in and way out of work).
These are real sacrifices (to me at least) as they are all things I cared about. Things I enjoyed. What I have found though, is that I enjoy writing as much, or possibly, even more.
Now time will tell how long this enthusiasm lasts, but I feel it has been an encouraging start!
So my question to you is – what have you sacrificed to pursue your writing, your blog, your passion? Have you been able to maintain that enthusiasm?