We all have certain responsibilities we must take care of before doing other things. For some it’s a day job; others, paying bills, yard work, or cleaning the kitchen. There may be children to tend to or to-do lists to knock out. But once those responsibilities are taken care of, I know some people still say there’s no time to write.
While there are exceptions, most people do have time to write…they just choose to spend their time doing other things. And there’s nothing wrong with that; sometimes, we all need a break.
When faced with free time, ask yourself this regarding the things you do:
Is what I’m doing more important to me than time spent writing?
- Is that TV show you like more important than time spent writing…?
- Is spending time on Facebook more important than time spent writing…?
- Is arguing about politics online more important than time spent writing…?
If those things are more important than writing to you, then by all means, do them — there should be no shame in doing what you enjoy as much as you can.
Some nights, zoning out and watching a couple hours of TV is more important to me than writing. But most nights, it’s not.
I have no qualms about spending time with people I love instead of writing, especially because they understand how important writing is to me and respect my time. Some days, I just don’t feel like writing, so I don’t — and what I do instead on those days is usually worth the time to me.
But more times than not, I prefer writing to watching TV, being online, or finding something to do just for the sake of doing something. I know this because I ask myself: Is what I’m doing more important to me than time spent writing?
And the answer is usually No.
So I write…
Lisa Eckstein says
This is a great post about an essential question. I think it’s important to ask this question (or a variant of it) not only when it comes to fun activities, but also when thinking about responsibilities like the ones you list at the beginning. And it’s important (and difficult) to learn to deal with your own particular tendencies and foibles when it comes to this topic.
For example, say that I have to clean the kitchen, and that this task isn’t optional the way watching TV is optional. If I don’t remember to question myself, I’m likely to rank cleaning the kitchen as even more important and less optional than writing. I’ll clean the kitchen first, and boy will it be clean, but when I’m finished I’ll say, “Oh, well, that took a long time and now I’m tired, so I don’t think I can write today.”
On the other hand, if I ask myself this question in advance, I’ll realize that if I write first and then stop with enough time to clean the kitchen well enough, both tasks will get done today. I may also realize that at the end of the day, I’ll be very disappointed if I haven’t written, and that in fact if the kitchen isn’t clean, it’s not really a big deal and I can do it tomorrow.
I clean while I’m incubating ideas. It helps me step away from the page for a few minutes and let things gel in my head… but of course, our kitchen is tiny.
I’m with Christopher here — I’d much rather write than do most anything else, most of the time. It’s usually an easy question to answer. 😉
Christopher Gronlund says
Lisa: What you mention is the other thing I get from asking the question: really seeing that the things we’re supposed to believe should be at the top of the to-do list really aren’t as important as we may think they are. Not that I let things fall to the side, but in my case, it’s led me to cut things totally out of my life.
When I started realizing that there were things that were always coming up as “important” that really weren’t, I figured out ways to reduce or eliminate them. And that led to more writing time and time doing the things I need to do, and the things I just enjoy doing!
Christopher Gronlund says
Shawn: My big time for incubating ideas is when I drive…but good things have also come about while cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, I’m sure.
I find myself writing less than I used to, but I enjoy it more when I do write, and I enjoy everything else much more than I used to. I shoot for writing more days than not, and pushing myself more than I ever have. It’s been working out well.