I don't like math, but I do...sometimes. Sometimes it lets you see amazing things.
I'm obsessed with improving my writing. I'm hellbent on getting so good, my words will make your teeth sing. I want to be so superb, no one will be able to put my books down. No one. This is my goal. To take over the world. And so I'm grinding away at it every day, trying to maximize the time I spend on my work, because the more time I spend on it, the better I will get. I have seen a direct correlation to this. Remember I told you about spending 2 hours every morning on learning new words with the help of etymology? Well, that time shrunk to 1 hour, and the file shrunk to half its size! It's working! I'm getting better and faster!
I'm also trying to maximize my reading time, so I decided to calculate what I do every day to see where my time goes. I figure a typical life gets spent like this:
- 0s-10s (kid): What's life? What's spending? I do what I want. Wheee!
- 10s-20s (teen): I will spend my life doing what I fucking want! <insert more cuss words>
- 20s-30s (adult!): Shit. I don't know what to do with my life. How did that happen?
- 30s-40s (adult...): I think I know what I want, but now I'm stuck doing other things.
- 40s-50s (adult?): I got what I want! I got it! I'm doing it!!! But my body is giving out...
- 50s (???): (Haven't gotten here yet, so have no idea.)
Every time someone asks me to do something—judge a contest, come out for coffee, shoot some squirrels—I think: "What am I willing to cut?" Because every one of my days is scheduled according to reaching my goal, which is THE TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION AND MY BOOKS IN EVERY TOILET. I mean, on every bookshelf.
Here is my schedule:
- 8 - 9 a.m. I wake up, scratch my head, get my coffee, do eye exercises, kiss Royce, dress, pee (read a poem or two while peeing), sit down to write.
- 9 - 10 (11) a.m. I study new words I picked up from yesterday. Sometimes this stretches to 11 a.m. because I also quickly do a couple posts on the Ello writing community, sometimes I get stuck in the loo for too long, reading a particularly good poem, or get carried away playing Words with Friends, which also serves the function of discovering more new words and learning even more new words.
- 11 - 3 (4) p.m. I actually write. I don't do anything else until I spend 4 hours staring at the screen, and hopefully typing words. Sometimes this stretches to 4 p.m.
- 4 - 5 (6) p.m. I do social media. Patreon, Ello, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, emails. Oy. I tell everyone everywhere that I wrote shit, do some posts, then try to disengage which is really hard so sometimes it stretches to 6 p.m.
- 6 - 7 (8) p.m. Dinner. I see kids, cook, we eat, chat. I really only eat once a day. The rest is coffee and quick snacks like nuts or berries or fruit or hard-boiled eggs or the raw leg of my neighbor. This sometimes stretches to 8 p.m.
- 8 - 10 (11) p.m. I read. If the book is hard (old English, or particularly complex so I have to stop and think) this might stretch into 11 p.m. In general I try to read at least 2-3 hours every day or at least 100 pages.
- 11 - 12 (1) a.m. I mediate and exercise, and sometimes while I exercise I type up a blog post or two on my phone. I usually have to cut it off at midnight but sometimes it sadly stretches to 1 a.m.
- 1 - 2 a.m. I read what I wrote to Royce, he gives me feedback, we take showers and then cavort around the bedroom doing naughty things until we both fall to bed exhausted and fall asleep like dead logs.
- 8 - 9 a.m. Everything starts all over again.
When I have to ship books or check out books at the library or meet with someone or attend someone's reading at a bookstore or go to a party or steal blackberries, I invariably have to cut something out of my schedule. The first to go is usually meditation and exercise, then I chop off social media, then reading. The more time I need for this other thing, the more my schedule suffers. But writing is sacred. Writing time I don't touch. And yet every day something crops up. We're out of food and have to go grocery shopping (so I read in the car), or I have to get my son somewhere (so I read and do social media on the bus on the way), or some drama sneaks up and takes up time. Rarely do I have perfect days when everything goes according to this schedule.
Today was such a day. It was perfect. Kids are out of the house doing various summer things, and Royce is gone to see his mom, and I didn't need to go anywhere, so I did everything.
I even wrote this blog post, to boot. Can you believe it?
The results of this concentrated effort are paying off. I'm getting better and better. I can feel it. Royce noticed it too. I'm getting more confident. It really is an amazing feeling. And because I saw the direct link from improvement to the time I spend on my work, it's easier and easier for me to say no. I hesitate less and less.
I know what it will cost me.
This has been a tremendous revelation. See? Math can be magic too. So what about you? How much time do you spend on writing? Reading? What do you spend your life on? Chime in.