I recently read Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing.” In the book, he talks about two golden rules of being a writer: Write a lot and read a lot. He mentions that when he talks to young authors who respond to this advice with “Unfortunately I don’t have time to read,” he tells them “Then you don’t have time to be a writer.”
This advice seems a little harsh on the surface but when we unpack the idea, it really rings true. We often want a shortcut to our goals and believe that we don’t have time for the long way.
It’s fascinating, when you think about it, that we currently have more gadgets and technology created to save time than at any other point in human history. Yet, somehow, we’re busier than ever. We feel like we don’t have enough time, and we need another gadget to wring a few more precious minutes out of the day.
Something I discovered along the journey of my own life is that I don’t lack time – I lack priorities.
I tend to give top billing of my time and energy to stupid, meaningless things. Here’s an example:
I have a microwave so I can cook faster. This is useful because the DVR is at 86% and I need to watch some things so it doesn’t start deleting old recordings. That said, you know what I enjoy a lot more than Survivor? Being in the kitchen and cooking from scratch. I love cooking from scratch. It takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen, watching her incredible knife skills as she sliced homemade dough into miniscule ribbons for soup noodles.
Why, then, do I skip the part I love so I can hurry to the part I love less?
In his book, Stephen King says this:
The sort of strenuous reading and writing program I advocate – four to six hours a day, every day – will not seem strenuous if you really enjoy doing these things and have an aptitude for them; in fact you may be following such a program already. If you feel you need permission to do all the reading and writing your little heart desires, however, consider it hereby granted by yours truly.
Stephen King is not (really) in a position to grant me permission to read for six hours a day, and yet I found a sense of relief when I read that passage. It was as if I had been waiting for someone to give me the green light to change my priorities. To put value in things like reading and writing. Our society doesn’t always value such things very much.
I, like Mr. King, am in no position to give you permission to do anything. You have to make those decisions. However, if it will lighten your load, even just a little, I hereby grant you full permission to re-evaluate the priorities you’ve set in your life, right here, today. If you find you lack time, look at where that time is going and change some things around. Take joy in the things that fulfill you, in case right now you feel guilty about that fulfillment. If you feel guilty, ask yourself why.
Sit for a while and dig deep. Don’t worry, you have permission.