Excuses and Priorities: Finding the Time

While having a conversation with a fellow fledgling writer, he mentioned he “didn’t have time” to work on his current project. I mentioned that you make time for what’s important in your life, so if you’re not “making time” then it’s not as important as other things.

This is, of course, true within reason. If you’re exhausted after a long day of work, then even if you have time to write, it might not be a good idea to write–the words will probably feel as tired as you. There’s also times when you’re just not in the headspace to write–whether because the scene is dark and you’re too happy or the scene is happy and you’re too sad. But generally, if you make time to write, then you’re going to write more than if you didn’t make time. (Um, duh, right?)

He sheepishly agreed with me and said he deserved to hear that, since he applies that to so much else in his life/preaching. It’s a good thing to apply to life. Obviously having kids (which he does) complicates things, since their priorities might not match with your own, but the logic still applies (just slightly tweaked).

I think of myself as fairly busy. I work full-time, ride horses at least twice a week, write and edit my own stuff, am (sorta) active in a writers’ group, am a leader of a 4-H club, see my friends at least once a week, visit family (although not often enough), run my single-person household, and get 6-8 hours of sleep a night (which is mandatory for the happiness of the world). I’ve had people ask how I do it. Well, I follow some rules.

1. Schedule things. I joke with my mom, but I require most events to be scheduled at least a month in advance if you want my attendance. Anything less than that and I don’t feel bad for saying “Sorry, busy!” Scheduling let’s me know when I am going to have a busy weekend and need to reorganize other items. Say my Saturday is booked. Since my weekend mornings are prime writing time, then I need to either plan to write more on Sunday or else try to squeeze in more time during the week. Scheduling allows for optimal use of all of your time.

That said, don’t overschedule to the point where you don’t have any downtime built in. I tend to expect everything to take longer than it does, so I never feel rushed to do the next thing. I used to not be as good at that, and you burn out quick.

2. Prioritize. This gets back to what I was saying earlier. I used to (okay, we all know I still do) complain that I don’t have time to write. And then I realized I couldn’t write in the evenings after work because my head wasn’t in the right spaces. But writing more was something I wanted to do. So I started setting aside time in some mornings to get up and write. Does it mean I sometimes roll out of bed when I’d rather be curled up browsing tumblr? Yes. But for me it’s worth it.

Some mornings I may only write 200 words, but it’s 200 more words than I had the night before. And just doing it feels like an accomplishment. And starting the morning with an accomplishment is a good way to do it!

Obviously this can apply to anything. But if you ever find yourself saying “I don’t have time for X,” but you spend your whole night watching reality TV shows, then you need to ask yourself, “Is reality TV more important than X to me?” If you keep spending your time that way, then yes, it is.

I’m lucky enough to have a fairly flexible schedule, and kids throw a wrench (or a whole toolbox) into working schedules, but if you really want to do the thing, then you have to make time to DO THE THING. If you come to the time to do the thing and you don’t feel like it at that moment, then you can always do something else. But if you don’t make the time to do the thing, then you’ll never have time to do the thing.

3. Do the above to everything in your life. Now, I don’t mean rank “friend time” vs “family time.” But if you’ve seen your fiends a lot that week and you need some alone time, don’t be afraid to say no if they invite you to a movie you’re lukewarm on and you’d really rather be writing. Even if you can do thing X during when you’d usually slump on the couch watching TV, you might be able to do something else during that time, which would then open up a different slot for doing thing X.

And that’s…pretty much it. I realize not everyone can/wants to have a life as structured as I do, but I think the core ideas can help everyone. No, you might not have a Google Calendar for every week sketching out when you have writing time, but having the idea of “I’ll wake up twenty minutes earlier on Wednesdays to [do X] before I head to my job” is sometimes all we need.

Also, if you do all the above and find out you still “don’t have time,” then it just means that the thing you “want to do” isn’t actually that important to you. And that’s okay too. It might help to rephrase the thinking though: “I’d love to do X, but I have too many other awesome thing I’m busy doing.” There’s no shame in realizing that while something might be really cool and you’d like to do it, it just isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. As long as you’re happy with the things you are making time for, then that’s all that matters.

Just thought I’d drop by

I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while…and I have (good) reason. [You can’t judge whether it’s a good reason once I’m through.]

Books

This morning I realized (and it’s what catapulted this entry), that I’m reading a very odd collection of books right now. First off The Art of Happiness, which is an interview with the Dalai Lama about finding happiness in life (mostly through compassion, so far). Going hand in hand with that is Sex God, which isn’t about sex as much as you’d think, but more about relationships and connecting with people (I’m drawing plenty of parallels between these two books).

Finally, I’m reading Deflowered, which is autobiography of Jon Ginoli (lead singer of Pansy Division), but is really telling about the creation, growth and life story of the band (with sporadic mention of when he gets laid). I’m not normally an autobiography-reading person, but I love PD and my friend said it was worth a gander. I’m just over halfway through (at which point I bought my own copy so I’d stop abusing my friend’s autographed one), and while it’s not good enough that I need to gobble it all up (too much band politics for me sometimes), I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it.

So, I’m reading a Buddhist book about happiness, a Christian book about sex, and a queer book about music.

Freetime

Some people have mentioned that I seem to be a bit busy and unable to get things done that I should be getting done (like responding to discussion about books). What’s keeping me so darn busy?

First off, with spring comes romance…haha…no, with spring comes more riding time! I try to get out twice during the week and twice during the weekend, so it pretty much doubles the time I spend at the barn during the winter, plus, I’m more likely to hang around and help out, since I’m not cold and miserable.

Second, spring also brings about people wanting to have social lives. Aside from my normal Friday night gathering, my Saturdays are also sometimes filled with people being social.

Finally, words. Although I have three books listed as what I’m reading, that doesn’t count the other books I pick up randomly, the short stories I read online, the not-so-short stories I read online, and my own writing. Maybe not good excuses, but I enjoy participating in those, so :P.

Conclusion

I probably didn’t do a real good job of convincing anyone I’ve been particularly busy. But life just kinda happens, you know?

PS: Buddhism doesn’t make comment about homosexuality or anything, just says “To refrain from committing sexual misconduct.” So there is some freedom there, on exactly what that means. Of course, sex is a hinderance to enlightenment, so you should be avoiding it anyway…but moving on. The 14th Dalai Lama (current) said in 1997: “even with your own wife, using one’s mouth or the other hole is sexual misconduct.” Of course, this is just one man’s opinion, but he’s kinda a big deal. Of course, he says nothing about two guys loving one another (in the piece I found) but just no sex.

On Life, Beauty, and Gender

For psuedoLent I gave up chocolate and have been pretty faithful to the sacrifice, though I did have a piece of chocolate cake and a bite of brownie. That’s not really important, but I wanted to share.

Second, after hearing mention of a beauty regime in a book I was reading (Getting It by Alex Sanchez, for those who are interested), I realized that my mother never really gave me beauty tips when I was young, possibly because I wanted nothing to do with it. But really, boys and girls can have nice skin, which is all she would have needed to say to win me over (the characters in the book are all boys, and not all of them are gay). So I decided to attempt this beauty regime and see how it turns out (for those interested, it involves foaming cleanser, witch hazel and oil-free moisturizer). I’ve taken pictures to do “before” and “after” comparison.

Third, I guess…the books I’ve been reading. Still reading Be Last for the youth group and have added on The Art of Happiness “by” the Dalai Lama. Also, I took out Parrotfish from the library which is about a transgendered boy (as in, girl to boy) who is embracing the male side and all the struggles he goes through (a work of fiction, which has peaked my interest in nonfiction of similar, but haven’t settled on anything).

Coming from a rather conservative area, LGBT wasn’t particularly common (or spoken about) when I was a teen. I never really thought about it when I was in school, or if I thought about my attractions I kept them to myself. So when I went to college, my eyes were opened, to say the least. So I still feel like I’m trying to understand some things that other people have understood rather earlier in life, and I don’t know if that means I’m delusional about things or I’m finally coming to understand myself.

I won’t go into details, both because they are personal and because it would be rude (to my family) to make public announcements about things I’m not entirely sure of. Or something. The important thing is I love myself and am comfortable with myself, no matter who I become.

Not-a-Loser Saturday

Ignoring the fact that it’s 6 o’clock and I’m writing a blog entry, I’m not a complete loser, I swear.

Most of my time has been spent reading and writing when I’m not at work (or at the barn on weekends). Because I’ve been doing a fair amount (read: loads) of amateur reading on the interwebs, I decided that it wouldn’t necessarily help my writing, so I decided to pick up some books that are in the genre that I write, thus queer YA (although mine aren’t strictly YA or queer or “school stories”). Interlibrary loans are wonderful for this, because my town is not…well I don’t want to say they’re closed minded or anything, but they don’t carry many of these types of books. It kind of makes me wonder how hard it would be for a kid who is questioning to get a book out and read about kids going through this stuff. I wonder how many kids do anyway. Probably only the out ones.

So I’ve been doing loads of reading, and because it’s YA I finish it in a couple days (or a day) which gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I think after I finish the latest book I’ll have to put off more until I finish The Art of Happiness, which I’m looking forward to reading. Reading takes plenty of my time, but the time spent feels so much better spent than watching TV, reading things online, or whatever else I waste time doing. Writing is possibly the only thing that feels more productive, and right now I don’t know about that.

After I woke up from my afternoon nap, I had this deep, thought-provoking realization about my High School life and I was going to write about it. Then I realized it wasn’t really that great, just me realizing I was actually a huge loser in High School, but I acted all tough and pretended I wasn’t. I wonder what I looked like from the outside. I think alot of it had to do with not being able to (or not feeling safe to) talk about what I wanted/give my opinion. I feel less angry now that I’m open with what I want to say, although it’s still a challenge I’m overcoming.

I could probably go on and on about my feelings and such, but that seems boring. I hope everyone enjoys their Saturday.