Dec
14
2015

All a Matter of Time

Have you ever noticed how we tend to speak of time as if it were a commodity? We spend time, we save time, and we waste time. At work, we earn time off and express the worth of our effort in terms of dollars per hour or per year. Ultimately, whenever you go work for another you are leasing them your time, devoting your talents and attention to their projects rather than your own.

So, if we count and budget money, why shouldn’t we do the same that for our time? Let’s consider my time in round numbers. There are 168 hours in a week. I find my bread job to be challenging and fulfilling, and so I spend, on average, 45 of those hours working. It takes me another 4 hours a week to commute back and forth, and I usually aim for about 7 hours of sleep a night. All that leaves me with 70 hours each week to do with as I choose.

Sure, once you start considering the minutiae of everyday life, that time goes fast. However, because I feel that I “need” to do a thing doesn’t change the fact that I’m expressing value by doing it. I clean my cat’s boxes because I value their companionship as much as I appreciate having a house that doesn’t smell like cat poop. Likewise, I value my personal appearance, the health benefits that come from semi-regular exercise, eating well, being free from debt, living in clean spaces, and the companionship of my friends and family. However, in and amongst all these details I cannot allow myself to forget that I also value writing.

Fiction is a demanding mistress. Like many other authors, I’ve spent years practicing my craft and work to maintain and improve my abilities. Furthermore, I spend hours each week working on developing new projects and ideas. I’ve invested all of this time because I love the act of creation. I find joy in building worlds and characters, satisfaction in a well-crafted phrase, and a sense of profound peace in the ability to control a world absolutely. Especially when my life seems otherwise entirely out of control. Writing fulfills a deep emotional need, and so is worthy of my time.

To remind myself of this, I’ve stuck a notecard to my bathroom mirror. It reads only “70 hours.” The major difference between a professional and a hobbyist writer is their commitment. The hobbyist writes when it is convenient. When they find time. The professional chooses to carve time out of a busy life to write. The hobbyist makes excuses for why they didn’t have the time, and the professional acknowledges the reasons and makes it work anyways. Each day, I must decide what to do with the time I have. It’s a matter of choosing to do what I value.

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