Today marks the start of NaNoWriMo. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an organised challenge for people to write a novel in a month. The name’s shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve always found it an interesting concept, and even considered trying it this year. Ultimately, I decided I didn’t have enough time to write a thousand or more words a day. Or rather, I did have the time, but I’d rather use it to read, or spend time with friends. However, then I remembered this blog, and that I’m already writing a thousand or more words three days a week, which is very nearly half a week.
Maybe the real reason that I’m not doing NaNoWriMo is that I’m afraid of doing badly, and don’t feel ready. I mention it because all this led to me thinking about how I use my time. I spend three hours or more a week working on this blog. Without counting the ride to and from work, I usually spend between three and five hours a week riding my bicycle. I spend about three hours and a half every week in watching football. I’m currently spending a massive chunk of my day, between five and seven hours, reading.And so on. Then I got to wondering about why I spend my time the way I do.
I write on this blog because it gives me a way to work through the million things that run through my mind every day. It sets some stability into my weekly schedule, and helps me be more organised about how I spend my time. Mostly, though, I dedicate so much time into it because I really want to improve how good I am at writing. Writing a novel of my own might feel like a distant goal, but I feel better for knowing I’m doing something to work towards it. It reminds me of the way months and months before publicly coming out, I felt satisfied with myself because I was getting my facial hair lasered. It’s not what I want to be doing, but it’s a step in the direction.
The same applies to reading, with the added bonus that it’s really fun. Reading all of Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere books, for example, is sure to teach me a lot about world-building and writing complex, interesting, identifiable characters. However, I’m reading them mostly because I find it really fun to go on an adventure, or laugh at silly or amusing characters.
Biking also has a dual purpose. On one hand, it helps me stay healthy and active. This is particularly important since I’m at high risk for heart disease and varicose veins. On the other hand, the real reason I spend so much time on it is because it brings me joy. Being out riding past streets just feels right. I love the way I feel when I exercise, and I’m particularly grateful for the way biking in particular allows me to also spend prolonged periods of time alone. I always feel relaxed after a bike ride, and while part of it is down to the physical exertion, it’s mainly because I’m able to think about things bothering me, and find ways to deal with them.
Now I’m wondering how other people spend their time. Do they watch TV? Why? What shows? Do they go running every day? How did they get started, what do they get out of it? Go home to their kid? Aw, and also, what joy have they found doing that?
And so on. Asking someone what they do with their time is typical interview question, which is to say it’s not a very good question because people will just give out formulaic answers. But if you’re able to get them to be honest about what they really do and why, you’re bound to learn a lot about them.
How about you? What do you do with the time you have? Why? What has spending it that way given or shown to you?