Recently I feel like everytime I look on twitter, or visit a blog, someone is quitting blogging because of the pressure, the time commitment, or frankly, because it just isn’t fun anymore. That’s obviously a perfectly valid choice, and I don’t judge anyone at all judge for making it, but I really don’t want to do that myself, as blogging is a thing I do just for me, and I love it. Having just upped my reading challenge goal on Goodreads though, I can see how easy it would be, as I find myself feeling like I have to use every spare minute to read, or if I’m not reading, to blog.
I’m not very good at relaxing, because I feel like I always ‘should’ be doing something. When I go to the gym, I feel like I should listen to an audiobook so that I’m achieving two things at once. When I’m driving somewhere on my own, it feels like a waste not to be using that dead time to listen to an audiobook. When I watch TV, I’m inevitably blogging or planning out my next reading choices at the same time.
Sometimes, that’s great. Getting more stuff done in less time is always a bonus…except when it’s not. Like when you realise you have absolutely no idea what’s going on in your TV show because you were too caught up in the review you were writing. Or when your workout feels slower without music. Or when you feel guilty about doing other things you enjoy.
When I first started blogging, I was a student at uni, and I had a lot more free time. I didn’t find it that difficult to balance blogging, reading 100 books a year, uni work, reading and writing fanfiction, playing the Sims, watching TV, going on nights out and still doing exercise at least once or twice a week. I even won NaNoWriMo that year (the only time I have!). Now though, between a full time job and a volunteering role, I have a lot less free time. I no longer have random half-days off lectures with my other half, or every weekend off together; we have a lot less time off together generally, so I don’t always want to be blogging or reading or playing the Sims in the evenings. Plus, I’m probably a better blogger nowadays, with slightly more regular content! What that means is that I’ve stuck with blogigng and reading, but let them pretty much expand into all my free time, and other hobbies have fallen by the wayside. I probably haven’t read or written any fanfiction in over a year, despite the fact I loved it. I’ve played the Sims maybe once in the last six months, even though we bought a new computer that can play it brilliantly.
Turns out, according to Wikipedia there’s actually three different types of leisure; serious leisure, casual leisure and project-based leisure. Who knew, right?
Serious leisure is the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer … that is highly substantial, interesting, and fulfilling
Casual leisure is immediately, intrinsically rewarding; and it is a relatively short-lived, pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it.
Project-based leisure is a short-term, moderately complicated, either one-shot or occasional, though infrequent, creative undertaking carried out in free time.
Looking at those, I’d say the vast majority of my free time now falls into serious leisure: blogging, or reading in order to blog. Casual leisure has pretty much become only going to the cinema, because watching TV is always combined with blogging. And project-based leisure, for me, would probably have been writing fanfiction which has disappeared altogether. Who knew free time could be so complicated?!
While the dictionary definitions are very interesting, the general point is, I often feel guilty for doing things I enjoy, because they feel like a waste of time. And that seems pretty ridiculous to me – it’s my time to waste after all! Yet when I decided I wanted to seize back my time a little, I found myself justifying it. Fanfiction isn’t a waste of time because it’s relaxing, completing a challenge forces my mind to think flexibly in terms of plot which might help with my desire to continue my NaNoWriMo project, it gets me into a writing habit…Hey, maybe I could blog about it too!
…. These things are all true, but they’re not why I’m letting myself get back into fanfiction. I’m letting myself get back into it because I want to, and if that means I don’t quite hit my reading goal for the year, or if playing some more games means slightly fewer blog posts then that’s okay. Time management is great, but not all free time has to be productive – sometimes it’s okay to ‘waste’ your free time on catching up on a TV show you love, playing a video game, painting your nails or watching cat videos on YouTube. Just because you could be using that time differently doesn’t at all mean you have to. Sometimes I want to do something unproductive with my free time, and eventually my brain will just have to learn that that’s okay too.
“I am not particularly interested in
saving time; I prefer to enjoy it.”
― Eduardo Galeano