“Where do you find the time to write?!”

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Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
– John Lennon

Fellow bloggers, I need for you to weigh in: Do friends and family, coworkers and acquaintances, claim to marvel at how you find the time to write? Is this a back-handed compliment? It is not a rhetorical question I pose to you, but an earnest inquiry as I form and shape my own opinion.

People who read my blog, the ones I know in “real life,” have many questions about my writing:

Do your nudist neighbors know you wrote about them?

Did you really buy the “Ginger’s Grocery” sign?

How did you learn so much about the mating habits of pandas?

Questions like this, questions about content, are easy to field:

No, not to my knowledge.

Yes, I bought the sign. It is hanging on the back of our carriage house.

I read an article about panda sex in The Week.

I have a hard time coming up with the right answer, however, when people ask me where I find the time to write. It puts me on the defensive.

“You write a lot. Where do you find the time?”

The reason this particular question stumps me is that it comes off like an indictment rather than a sincere question. There is typically a tone of voice, a facial expression, that communicates judgement. I don’t think an answer is anticipated or desired. If I said, “Oh, I write from 9 to 10pm,” I don’t think my conversational partner would feel satisfied. It isn’t a question at all, but a statement: You waste a lot of time, and I am busier than you.

Do you agree? Am I being defensive? I will be the first to admit I am neurotic, and it is very possible that I am projecting my own insecurities about productivity onto others, but I feel like we (i.e. bloggers) have more to answer for than our golfing, gardening, fly-fishing counter-parts.

How do I find the time to write? How do other people find time to go to football games? How do people find the time to watch Game of Thrones? Where do people find the time to lift weights, teach children’s Sunday school, sleep in on Saturday, comment on friends’ Facebook posts or drive their kids to a gym 30 miles away in order to take part in a “stronger” tumbling program?

None of us “finds” time; the time is there. We all have the same amount to pass. How I differ from my friends who do Crossfit or make their own jelly is not in the time I find, but in the passions that drive my priorities.

Yes, I have a career to grow, but I also write. I am a speech therapist. I rehabilitate self expression as an occupation. In that context, a blog makes sense. It never seems to bother my superiors that I write or post my ideas online. On the contrary, they are very supportive.

And yes, I have a marriage to nurture, but I also write. I suspect that for every hour I spend in solitude drafting a story or essay, Todd has spent an hour reading, watching football or going to a show with a friend. We are a married couple, not a pair of conjoined twins; we can spend time apart.

And yes, I have children, but I also write. The kids are the most important part of my life, but they are not the only part of it. I’m not inclined to lend any credence to the antiquated notion that women, once they become mothers, maintain none of their own hobbies and interests.

I am as busy everybody else. Sometimes I am busy writing. Sometimes I am busy doing something else. What else is there to say?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Plead the Fifth.”

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38 Comments on ““Where do you find the time to write?!”

  1. If it is an indictment, or at least comes across that way, it is an indictment of themselves. There is, not only an accusation behind that question, but also a hint of jealousy. ‘She somehow finds the time to raise the kids, have a career, a good marriage, seems HAPPY (God forbid), and after all’s said and done, she creates something lasting and worthwhile. Something somewhere is wrong with her, because if that’s not the case, then something must be wrong with ME.” And that’s the thinking that is behind that question. You could make a list of the things you don’t waste your time on. I don’t know you, but I would guess you probably don’t have a lot of time to watch TV, the biggest time suck of our generation, and you probably aren’t scrolling for ex boyfriends and/or validation on Facebook for hours at a time (the newest time suck of our generation). And so, you have time to use towards something you enjoy. All these modern advancements from the vacuum cleaner to car to the microwave to the internet are supposed to save time, and they do. So why don’t we ‘have time’ to follow our passions? We do, if you utilize that time for that purpose. That is what it was meant for. If you were to go back 100 years and tell them the time it takes us to do the same things they toil with all day everyday, they’d be amazed and say, ‘wow, what I could do with that extra time!’. And what do most of us do? Nothin’. Then we complain about how busy we are. You are doing the right thing and people see that. The question they’re really asking you is, ‘what am I doing wrong?’. You shouldn’t feel insulted, you should feel sorry for them… us. I’m guilty of wasting time more than most. I just don’t push it off on others. I know who’s fault it is, and he’s about to jump on Facebook right now while he waits for SNL to come on. Keep writing. When I read your posts, I’m not wasting time. It might have to wait for SNL to be over though.

    • You’re kind, and you’re probably giving me more credit than is due. For a girl who isn’t on FB or watching a lot of tv, I waste a heroic amount of time. I think it really is my own insecurity that makes me defensive, and I think that deep down, I feel like a better person would choose a perfectly spotless house over blog post. How many times can you pick up the same ton of legos, though, watch them end right back on the floor, and force yourself to do it all over again? At least when I write I give my retired parents something new to read 1.5 times per week. Thanks for reading and for the feedback!

  2. For me, when I feel really strongly about something (to the point I want to write about it), it just comes out as if I am talking to someone. Writing is not much different to talking. So, the question could be more “How do you find time to talk?” To people who love/need to write, writing is not an effort. More like a thirst. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou.

    • So perfectly put. You’re exactly right. When I worked with kids, I used to say that writing was just talking on paper. Great Maya Angelou quote. Hope you’re well.

  3. I once wrote a post that talked about the work I do as an artist. I listed all the things that I do each day that enhance my creativity. Blogging was not on the list because I was new to the blogosphere but I would add it now. What was on the list were things like throwing the ball for the dog, hiking in the woods, reading a book…I still find time to do all of these things. Blogging helps me to put my thoughts and feelings into words which then helps me to understand why I create what I create. “Finding the time” seems a no-brainer.

  4. You’ve said it all and very well. Keep writing. That published book is in your future.
    Love you
    Rhonda

  5. You write alot but how clean is the kitchen? :p

    Seriously, though, while you write I read alot, and I mean aLOT! So keep the awesome blog posts coming 🙂

  6. We all have the same 24 hours a day. Think how dull our world would be if we all used it the same way. You don’t need to reply to how do you have the time unless you want to tell them that you are a time efficiency expert and that they are wasting their time in asking you such a question.

  7. I have a feeling that if you were to answer with that pat response “I write from 9 to 10pm.”and then just keep your mouth shut and look at them like you were expecting more from that conversation, the awkwardness would be well worth it.

  8. Consider this: It’s probably the person making the comment that is feeling defensive. Often “where do you find the time” implies time outside of the time we spend on consumption (television, social media, etc). So many of our apps and websites are designed to make us feel like we are being creative and productive when in reality we are merely curating. Take Pinterest for example – you feel as if you’re creating a vision, but in fact your only curating images that others have created. The people who actually DO the creating are becoming fewer and farther between, and often people will feel taken aback when presented with someone who creates art, as it calls into question their own time wasting habits. So perhaps when put off by someones weighted comment about your habits, an appropriate response would be to inspire and encourage creativity in them.

    • I have never really thought about it in those terms, the idea that curating feels like creating when we have what amounts to on-line “kits” for everything (a la Pintrest). That is so true. And I had also not stopped to think (as I whined through that post) about how many people, after reading my blog, started sharing their writing with me, which has been very cool. I appreciate this perspective and you taking the time to share it.

  9. Okay, I will just be honest and say that I am jealous of you and wish I made more time to write! I get too consumed and can spend a whole week-end on one blog post so that I find myself not finishing. I think I am too ” all or nothing” about it. You are so right about the time thing – my father always said not to say you don’t have time for something, but to admit you choose how you spend your time. You are inspiring me to choose my creative side!

  10. Like everything else in life it’s a choice…including their choice to spend their time elsewhere doing other things that probably wouldn’t really appeal to you since you’re busy writing. (grin) I encourage you to ignore their questions entirely and continue to find joy in YOUR choices. I certainly enjoy how you’ve spent your time blogging and the responses above say that I’m not alone in that!

    Incidentally, people who ask silly questions aren’t entitled to serious answers and, if they persist, offer to sell them your secret…and then charge them enough to spend all the time you want writing very far away from them. Ha!

  11. When people look at my situation of being at home all day with little ones, tutoring in the evenings, and building a blog, I can see why they ask “how I find the time,” but I agree that sometimes it stings. I can multi-task, people, I’M A MOM!

  12. Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I found you before you sold your soul and started trying to sell teething rings and blue apples!
    Your blog is fantastic, your writing scrumptious!
    As far as the ‘where do you find the time…’ comment, I believe there is a group of people, lets say 15-30% of the population, for arguments sake, that cushion their nasty comments in superficial compliments. The one I attract is ‘wow, you’re looking skinny'(add disgusted up and down with the eyes). There are a zillion other descriptive words, like lean, slim, slender, cut(ok, that’s generous) and/or toned that would actually be a compliment because everyone knows I work hard to stay in shape.
    Put it down to envy. I do. If writing is what you love, you fit it in. Are the kids still fed, clothed and well adjusted? My guess is yes, and more-so because Mum is happy, fulfilled and takes time for herself. I love some of your comebacks. I may need to use them at some stage.
    Bravo.
    Skinny Jeans Mum
    (as you can see, I decided to take that barely concealed snipe and use it for good, not evil).

    • Totally. When we envy someone, one of their accomplishments (be it a body of essays or, in your case, a rockin little waist), we have two choices: we can decide that we didn’t put forth as much effort as them, or we can rationalize that they gained a tactile advantage through a combination of luck and other-area-slackery. And it is stupid. Even if each of us DID get something accomplished because of luck or imbalanced priorities, what does it matter? We are all good at different things, we all see the importance of prioritizing tasks in a different way, and that makes the world a more interesting place.

      An aside, my husband is slim/lean/skinny, whatever, and it is amazing, the double-standard that exists for those with a body type on that end of the spectrum. People feel entitled to say whatever they want about his frame, ask him how much he weights, pat his abdomen, ask me (his wife) why I’m not feeding him. And if he were to say something back to the person hashing out the insults, if he were to pat their bellies or ash why their wives were over-feeding them, it would be the rudest thing in the world, right?

      I am glad you checked out the post, Skinny Jeans Mum. Thanks for the feedback.

  13. Pingback: Daily Prompt; Plead the Fifth | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

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