Perceived free time versus actual free time

I call many people in my dayjob. Many times, these people are professionals that have other things going on, and they graciously take some time out of their day to talk to me. I noticed that many times, someone will be so busy they say they only have a minute to talk, but will actually speak at length at thier own insistence. In fact, sometimes I’m the one to rush when these same people continue on. It makes me think about time: how much we really have, and how much we percieve we have.

As a writer with a dayjob, this is extremely important. I cannot spend 8 or 9 hours a day on writing. I spend a night here or there, doing 4000 in one go instead of 500 a day. It works well enough, but could be better. So how much free time do I have? How to figure that out, to time it, while remembering to time it, is an interesting question, with a great answer. Video games to the rescue.

I’ve played several RPGs (the snes, genesis, ps1 and ps2 kinds) in my school days, and still enjoy them from time to time. Admittedly, I actually don’t play many video games that often. Mostly because I now read, watch things, and write. But video games can be art in certain areas, especially the one I chose. I had one that I knew would take a while, was filled with idea-inspiring adventures, and I hadn’t ever played all the way through before. Not only would it count each minute I played, but it was an adventure filled with several quests. Since my actual books are similar to the video games I’ve played in the past, it was a treasure-trove of great ideas. And so, I played it whenever I had any free time. I started it with the intention of only playing the game for fun, but the next day I recognized that I could use it for a time experiment to see what I can really devote to projects in a given time-frame. That’s why I devoted all spare time to it. I wouldn’t have if I were just going to play it casually.

In two weeks I had clocked around 45 hours on it, give or take! Now, I did spend some time doing other things, some readigs and watchings and a bit of writing. Even with everything else I did, I still managed to find 40+/- hours of free time (in general, at least) in 2 weeks.

Now that I’m done with that, I can devote my time to writing and other things. But knowing that I have that many hours free to simply read and write is a sobering thought. I thought I had full days with only a couple hours free to relax each day. That’s wrong. I have a mountain of time.

The most important thing, though, is the attention devoted. With the game, it’s easy to devote time and attention. I never felt like putting it down to go watch something else. It was pure engagement, which is probably the most important part of this experiment.

Writing takes far more disciple. Remember the adage that it takes 10 years or 10000 hours to master something. With a full time job, 80 hours a month is doable, for me. That’s 10.5 years to mastery. That’s a lot of time. But now I know, though a simple experiment, that I have it.

How much actual free time do you have?

584 words I could have used in a novel.

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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