Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Illusion of Wasted Time

I'm currently in the middle of a wonderful week off from work, in which I've set myself lots of goals in the areas of studying, reading, writing, drawing, correspondence, cleaning and more. In typical me style, each day I've given myself way too many things to realistically do and then spent most of the day wallowing in a mixture of indifference, apathy, self-loathing and pure joy as I procrastinate to high heaven.

I'm starting to wonder if, by making a task something I should or need to do, I psychologically then don't want to do it. By that logic then if I put 'watch seven episodes of Frasier in a row and eat chocolate' on my list then maybe I will instead practice cartwheels and eat a bowlful of apples.
I'm noticing a trend. One day I might put 'do the washing' on my list, and end up drawing a picture. Then the next day if I put 'draw a picture' on the list, I might find myself cleaning my clothes. The activity in question is irrelevant- its mere presence on the list renders it undesirable.
So by the list logic I will eventually do everything, but I'll do it in an order that makes me feel perpetually guilty for not having got things done 'that day.'

As a (tortured) writer I definitely suffer with guilt. There is no escape from the feeling that anything else I'm doing is a waste, a dreaded procrastination. 
I sometimes lament the fact that my blog isn't bigger, that more people don't read it. Occasionally I join a link up or something to try and get more traffic. Then I stop and ask myself- do I even really want this? Needless to say popularity would be fun and it would be nice to have more of a blogging community. On the other hand, there are the following drawbacks:
  • Do I want to do sponsored posts for money? You get sent cool stuff for free, but you're not free to blog about what you want to). 
  • Do I want to feel pressure to reply to comments left on a blog post? Some bloggers get a hundred comments every time they post something. At my average 0.0047 comments per blog post, I have no problem staying on top. 
  • The most popular bloggers blog upwards of five times a week. How on earth would I find five things to write about each week?

No, I think all in all I'm better off being free to ramble at my own pace, allowing it to be a fun pastime rather than edging into the dangerous territory of chore. 

I sometimes dream about being a concert pianist and wish I was (infinitely) better at playing. But then if it was my day job I'd probably hate it. Not to say I hate my day job now or anything, I just mean that sometimes we think if we could have our favourite hobby as a career then life would be perfect. In actual fact for many people, being paid to do something (with the resulting deadlines and boundaries and pressure) can turn the thing they once loved into a pain in the ass. 

In short, sometimes hobbies are best left as hobbies.
I read a great quote the other day in Writing Children's Fiction. On the subject of 'Writers Magic' Linda Newbery says, 
"imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, 
when you make delay and procrastination work for you.’’ (pg79)

So maybe as a writer I'm lucky. I can do an activity totally unrelated and still call the time spent a success in terms of the daydreaming I did.
But even if I'm not doing what I'm 'supposed' to being doing, or even thinking about it in any way, shape or form, should I feel guilty? Should I care? I've decided the answer is a big fat no. I'm the only one putting this pressure on myself and creating a false sense of what's important and what's not. 

In the end it doesn't matter what we do with our time. All that really matters is that we're enjoying doing it. Is that not what life is about, after all?



  1. I know this wont work

  2. Smile smile miles of smiles meryl

  3. Oh Meryl how I've missed you! Thanks for your never-shaking loyalty. See, it's not that difficult!


Please leave a comment!