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Thread: Too Many Interests--Too Little Time

  1. #1
    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    Too Many Interests--Too Little Time

    This is a feeling I'm sure many of you can relate to, so let's rant about it together, shall we?

    I feel like I have too many interests, and not enough time to pursue them, and it's depressing the crap out of me. I'm feeling it more than ever now that I'm participating in my first NanoWriMo.

    I want to be a full-time, career writer someday. Crazy pipe-dream, I know, but it's not like I have much else going for me, so why not try? I didn't graduate from a good school, and I'm not exactly a people person, so I don't imagine I'll ever be one of those guys who winds up managing a store just because they've worked there for a long time and schmoozed their way to the top.

    Anyway, I think I'm generally a happy person, but when depression does hit me, it's almost always caused by the same thing--a lack of time.

    Reading and writing are my passion, but they both take a lot of time. Work takes time, too. I find myself leaving other things by the wayside. Things that I enjoy, and that are enriching to the soul.

    For instance, I used to play a lot of video games when I was younger. My interest in them has definitely waned a great deal since then, but there's still a small handful of new games every year that I wish I could play, but usually wind up passing up. After all, there's not even enough time to read all the books I want to read!

    The same goes for TV shows. I have a huge backlist that I will probably never get around to now. Video games and TV were a huge part of my childhood, and they've played a huge part in shaping my taste and, ultimately, my writing. It seems wrong to abandon them, but I have to, out of necessity.

    There's just so much fiction out there, in various forms, and I can't help but feel like a lot of it can teach me something, and that I'm constantly missing out on something wonderful.

    There are so many prolific authors who have written tons of novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and all manner of things and I wonder how they do it. How can they output so many ideas and take in so few? How do they keep their well from running dry? If I didn't read every day I don't think I would be able to write every day, either.

    So, what are you guys sacrificing for your writing? How do you balance your interests, your dreams, and the necessities of the day-to-day?
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  2. #2
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    I prioritize. That's it. College, writing, eating/drinking, defecating, reading, all else. I run down this list and what I miss, I miss.
    I sleep 10 hours a day, help old ladies out and have enough time for tea and talking about their dogs, discover new music and even search thrift shops for stereo equipment.
    I don't sacrifice something, I just leave it alone. I watch TV, but if I'm busy, I don't run away from it, I can return anytime I wish.

    It's good to have hobbies, but don't be owned by those hobbies. If you're being compelled to watch TV, why do it? It's a worry and concern that you do not need.

    And writing takes time. For many people, it takes years to get up to a acceptable standard (it's taken me 8 years), and those writers you're talking about have taken most of their lives to write. They've found the the acceptable curve and worked from there, publishing work from a good grounding. King was well out of school, and working as teacher before the world took his bait. And he was writing far before that.
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  3. #3
    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    I prioritize. That's it. College, writing, eating/drinking, defecating, reading, all else. I run down this list and what I miss, I miss.
    I sleep 10 hours a day, help old ladies out and have enough time for tea and talking about their dogs, discover new music and even search thrift shops for stereo equipment.
    I don't sacrifice something, I just leave it alone. I watch TV, but if I'm busy, I don't run away from it, I can return anytime I wish.

    It's good to have hobbies, but don't be owned by those hobbies. If you're being compelled to watch TV, why do it? It's a worry and concern that you do not need.

    And writing takes time. For many people, it takes years to get up to a acceptable standard (it's taken me 8 years), and those writers you're talking about have taken most of their lives to write. They've found the the acceptable curve and worked from there, publishing work from a good grounding. King was well out of school, and working as teacher before the world took his bait. And he was writing far before that.
    I guess a large part of my problem is impatience. I'm very young and sometimes I forget that there's a lot of time ahead of me. That is doesn't matter that I've only read X number of books this year or only written so many words. There's always next year, and the year after that. I just hate being stuck in this directionless routine, not knowing how long it will take for things to change, or even if they'll change for the better.
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  4. #4
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Will has offered excellent advice. You just do what you do any any given time. The thing is, you can't do it all in one day.
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  5. #5
    Playing the waiting game MsLaylaCakes's Avatar
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    Prioritize - right now, for me, it's family, (unfortunately) day-job, writing, health/fitness, social life ...and honestly, I haven't played a video game in months (this is from someone who once clocked 200+ hours on Elder Scrolls). I used to make all my jewelry myself, and now I make a pair of earrings every 2-3 months. Life happens and we change.

    Now, I am trying to save up so I can quit my day-job in a yr ar two....let's see if that happens :-)
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  6. #6
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh219 View Post
    I guess a large part of my problem is impatience. I'm very young and sometimes I forget that there's a lot of time ahead of me. That is doesn't matter that I've only read X number of books this year or only written so many words. There's always next year, and the year after that. I just hate being stuck in this directionless routine, not knowing how long it will take for things to change, or even if they'll change for the better.
    I'm young too (but I have the patience of an ox, mind you, I learned this).

    It all takes time. What you should focus on is progress. If you set a number or words, or a time aside for writing everyday, you progress as time moves on.
    2,500words a day, becomes a novel at the end of the month. Rewrite that novel the next month (you'd probably go a lot faster) and edit it in your free time.
    Do this throughout the year, that's six novels. PROLIFIC!!!

    But, then again, don't try to push out gobs of words. Take your time, refine your practice over the period of time. Anything done quickly leads to mistakes.

    We are in that "push button" generation, where the majority of us what things done NOWNOWNOWNWONWOWNOWNOW!
    But the best things take time, and practice, and refinement to bring to glory.
    Don't Fear Failure.

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    "The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW c.m.n.'s Avatar
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    Prioritizing is a learning process, most likely it starts off slow, but you'll get the hang of it.
    I'm in the process of trying to prioritize, making the most important things (day job and family) first, followed by writing, then games and other hobbies. There are days when I don't have to work, don't want to deal with family, and I don't want to write, so I play a game.

    But don't beat yourself up, or feel depressed, if your major priorities get put on the back burner for an hour or a day. Since breaks from the routine can be a good, relaxing change for the body and mind. I'd say, if you want to watch that new television show for a 1/2 hour, go for it. Afterwards, get right back to your priorities.
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  8. #8
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    I thought you might be very young. When I was in my 20s, I felt like a has-been: the brilliant kid who didn't make good, except to marry. But life is a step by step thing. You don't go where you want to go by pushing a button. Life isn't a zippy peppy video game. (I refuse to read even queries for save-the-universe-and-get-back-in-time-for-lunch books.) What you act on and keep up with, step by step, will eventually amount to something...if you do it well. So, prioritize, take a deep breath, and take the steps you need to take...as long as you need to take them.

    Blessings,

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  9. #9
    Getting back to writing... MsDashwood's Avatar
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    I have the same problem, and I'm not young

    I work full time, and at the moment I'm taking a class for work too, so that takes up quite a lot of time. Then there is my writing that I try to make time for some evenings of the week plus weekends. That's my priority at the moment.
    But all the other things that I want to do and that - as you say - enrich life, I don't have much time for. Like music; playing the guitar, writing lyrics, sit with my guitar and sing and learn new songs and new ways of accompanying; or drawing; or making jewellery; or making films (nothing big, just small stuff on Video Maker, cartoons or tribute stuff); or even knitting; or composing music and experiment with recording and arranging songs/musical pieces on the digital equipment that I haven't had time to learn how to use yet -- and last but not least; meet up and do things with friends. All these things that give that you special feeling inside, and that lift you forward.

    Yeah - too many interests--too little time.

    I don't really need any advice with this, it's just the way things are, the way life is, unfortunately.
    But it's a loss, yes. And time passes so fast. There are just those hours in a day, and no matter how much you want to be able to do it all, and how much you prioritize, you can't add to those hours. Some things you'll never get around to.

    I really need to win the Lotto, so I can quit my job and spend my time doing what I want to do
    Last edited by MsDashwood; 11-09-2012 at 04:36 PM.
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  10. #10
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    When I was in college, I never got so much done as when I had no time.

    I learned to make the use of the time I had and prioritized like crazy.

    Now that I'm unemployed, I have never gotten so little done as when I had all the time in the world.

    Prioritize.
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  11. #11
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    You do have to give stuff up. My job at the moment means I get around three free hours when I get home - sometimes less. There is no way three hours is enough time to cook dinner, watch TV, write 2,000 words, record part of a new song, play a video game, and spend time with my wife.

    So things lose out. My music has been put on the back burner since I started novelling, which makes me sad in a lot of ways (but I love writing, so that makes up for it). I've played so few games that my PS3 has seen more dust than trophies this year. I get home and I write, to the exclusion of everything except my wife (and dinner).

    But if I didn't love it, I wouldn't do it.
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    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesecondglance View Post
    I've played so few games that my PS3 has seen more dust than trophies this year.
    Mine has been gathering dust for so long that I think both my controllers decided to commit suicide and no longer work right now. I discovered a couple weeks ago that the sixaxis motion thing somehow triggers the D-Pad now, and the left analog stick often triggers the X and square buttons. I've had the controllers turn off the system practically of their own accord several times. This is in both of my controllers, mind you. Color me confused.
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    I can absolutely relate to this, and as others have said it's about prioritizing everything. Ask yourself what you're willing to do in order to achieve your dream of being a full time writer.

    Being a full time writer has been my dream for about a decade now, and I'm still plugging away at it. I've sold eight books and a short story to Big Six houses, but I'm not there. I may never be there. Just because I dream it doesn't mean it will happen--but that will never stop me from trying.

    I work forty hours outside the house, and then I come home and write. I write on my days off, I write in the evenings after working a ten-hour day, and I write in the morning before going in for a late shift. I treat writing like my second job, which keeps it right at the top of the priority list.

    We all have twenty-four hours in a day, and we all have to choose how we spend it. I've had a lot less free time to read this year than last year, but I still try to squeeze in one book a week, because as a writer, reading is incredibly important.

    I rarely watch TV nowadays, just three scripted shows a week. Those are my treats. Do I wish I could watch all of the shows that sound good to me? Sure. I believe my friends when they tell me I'd love Supernatural or Once Upon A Time, but I can't sacrifice yet another hour of my time a week to keep up. I have other things to do. Same with some of my other hobbies that sit and collect dust (jewelry making mostly happens in my head), and I have a Pinterest board full of things I'll never actually make.

    But don't get so focused on writing that you forget to relax and enjoy one of your hobbies from time to time.
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    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    The media (pro and social) naturally enough tout extraordinary achievements like "3-month-old writes NYT bestseller conceived in utero!" This can generate extreme anxiety in one-year-olds who haven't gotten beyond a few short stories yet.

    Yeah, I do think it's tougher on kids today. When I was a kid -- prepare yourself to be shocked -- aspiring young writers didn't think they had to be published before they hit twenty or face utter loserdom. They didn't even know what a query letter was! Or an agent, or the Big Six (or however many there were in those days.) Fan-fiction, that very cauldron of aspiration for many, was mimeographed pamphlets snail-mailed from geek to geek.

    S'true.

    You've got a lot more noise nowadays, but know what? You can still turn it off. You can decide to control what YOU can control, which is where you put YOUR energy, at YOUR pace. If you can write 1000 words a day, great. 500, still great. 250, hell of a lot better than none. The trick is to pick the number you can consistently reach, then consistently reach it.

    And NaNoWriMo? There's a reason it only lasts a month. I love it, but I've also noticed that the emphasis on numbers can really screw some people up, even to the point of paralysis. NaNo's supposed to be fun as well as productive. If you don't hit 50K words, so what? You've won if you've committed to writing every day and can keep up that commitment, at a sustainable level, all the rest of the year.
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    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    When I was in paralegal school and then finishing my B.A. degree, I had to put my creative writing aside. I did plenty of writing, bit it was academic. My final project for the undergrad degree was a novella, so the last semester was creative writing. Before I knew it, I was done with everything and back to my creative writing. I also found I was a much better writer than before I completed my education.
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  16. #16
    resident curmudgeon
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    I have many interests, as well, but if you want to be a writer, you must write. Time or no time, whether you're twenty or fifty, you can't be a writer without writing.

    From the beginning, I put writing hours aside. I use those hours for writing. We all have twenty-fours hours in each day, and using two or three or four of them for writing still leaves most of the day's non-working hours to do whatever you wish.

    Everyone wants to be a writer. Not many want to write. Wanting to be a writer is just a fantasy. Wanting to sit down and write more than you want to do anything else is what turns a fantasy into a goal.

  17. #17
    the Juggernaut of Imperfection crunchyblanket's Avatar
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    It's hard, and not just when it comes to prioritising your interests. I work two jobs which amount to around 45+ hours a week. In the time that's left, I have to pack in housework, cooking and shopping. After that, I try to spend a little time with poor neglected Mr Crunchy. THEN I get to pursue my interests: going to the gym, playing videogames, reading, a few TV series I'm into and of course, writing - if the fatigue will relent for five minutes.

    It's tough as hell. I can't even begin to imagine how much tougher it is when you've got kids.

    I know how you feel when you talk about watching all those prolific writers out there. Sometimes it feels like I've already missed the boat, even though I'm a good four years shy of thirty.

    The only way to get around it is to write when you can. I write on my lunchbreak, I write on the bus. Sometimes I only get 200 words a day written, but it's still something. It all adds up in time.

  18. #18
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crunchyblanket View Post
    It's tough as hell. I can't even begin to imagine how much tougher it is when you've got kids.
    Hell yeah. I am in awe of people who manage to raise a family and do anything but crawl into bed at the end of each day.
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  19. #19
    Boldly going nowhere in particular. Jess Haines's Avatar
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    As pretty much everyone else here is saying, prioritize.

    One of the things that sucks about growing up is that you have to shoulder the responsibilities of taking care of yourself (and your family/kids, if you have them).

    While your health and family do come first, don't put your dreams by the wayside. Talking about your dreams is very different from doing the things you need to in order to achieve them. Make the time. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh219 View Post
    How can they output so many ideas and take in so few? How do they keep their well from running dry? If I didn't read every day I don't think I would be able to write every day, either.
    Living life instead of just consuming it second hand from books and TV gives an enormous amount of ideas Actively doing stuff like travelling, volunteering, just doing new, unfamiliar things and meeting new people is very stimulating.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidh219 View Post
    So, what are you guys sacrificing for your writing? How do you balance your interests, your dreams, and the necessities of the day-to-day?
    I've always seen work as just a means of living my dreams. So that I have to "waste" only a marginal amount of time on paid work, I've simply cut down on my expenses. Things like rent, owning a car, buying new stuff frequently eats up a lot of money, but those are all optional things - there are always cheaper ways of doing stuff. Having pared down my "needs" (wants, actually) over the years, I've been getting by very comfortably on five thousand bucks a year - which leaves me with plenty of time for pursuing my dreams.

    And in terms of which dreams to pursue, I've been using a five-year plan for ages which really works: what are my top three dreams that I need to have fulfilled before I die?
    Fulfilling some will take money, so for five years, I save towards that goal.
    Others will take time, so I carve out that time over the next five years.
    And for some I will need certain skills, so I'll learn those.

    The point is, if today you totally commit yourself to living an important dream, to make it a reality within the next five years, and begin working towards that goal now, it suddenly becomes achievable.
    And once you've achieved the one goal that was so important to you, just figure out what you passionately want in your life in another five years - and get going on that So off you go. Right now.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    I know exactly how you feel. Over the last year, I have really focused myself on my dreams of becoming a writer, and I have had to cut a lot out of my life. I hardly play video games anymore, and I only occasionally watch TV (and I'm usually working on a book at the same time). The more I write, the better a chance I have of getting it to work.

    Balance is important, though.

  22. #22
    Simplify. frankiebrown's Avatar
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    I have two jobs and I also volunteer for about ten hours a week. My sister and I are taking care of our 4-year-old nephew. And I'm trying to write a book. And read books. And get some exercise. Oh yeah, and not leave my boyfriend feeling like an abandoned puppy. I guess I need to eat and sleep somewhere in there, too. Next semester, I'll be back in school on top of everything else. Lol.

    So, we're in the same boat, David. And I figured out how to make it work.

    We need to add six hours to our day. 30 hour days. Any idea how to make that happen? Because that would really solve all of my problems.
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  23. #23
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onesecondglance View Post
    Hell yeah. I am in awe of people who manage to raise a family and do anything but crawl into bed at the end of each day.
    Dang, I've been wondering why I wake up every morning with carpet burn on my face!

    *Note to self: Don't forget to crawl into bed before you pass out!*

    Having kids does add another layer of complication to writing, but like everything else, you just make time to take care of what needs to be done. I work anywhere from 45 - 80 hours per week at my day job, then come home and help the kid with homework (if he's not already asleep by the time I get home), spend a few minutes with the hubby, convince the dogs that their mommy hasn't abandoned them, try to write for a few minutes, read for a few minutes, and finally fall over by around midnight. I only get about 5 hours of sleep, which isn't nearly enough and every few weeks I just have to crash for a day.

    So, yeah, some things just simply don't get done. If I didn't have a housekeeper, the dustbunnies would probably form a collective intelligence and eat us while we sleep. And my husband hasn't had a home-cooked meal since, um...



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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW MDSchafer's Avatar
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    I'm in nursing school, have two part time writing jobs, work 30-35 hours a week waiting tables and run a small nonprofit that supports an orphanage in Kenya. If I can find time to write, submit and keep up with the reading required for my writer's group you can do it to.

  25. #25
    Walking Anachronism davidh219's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankiebrown View Post
    We need to add six hours to our day. 30 hour days. Any idea how to make that happen? Because that would really solve all of my problems.
    I wish!

    I've often wondered, if I could pause time for everyone but me, would I do it, even though I'd have to eventually face the fact that I'd seem to be growing old faster than the average person?

    I think I probably would. Anything that hastens my goal towards being a full-time writer, and lets me avoid working at my real job, is worth pretty much anything it costs. Hopefully I'd only lose like 5 or 6 years
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