Monday, October 14, 2013

The Time and Money Equation

Okay, I have a commitment issue. Well, maybe it's better to say I have an overcommitment issue.

I describe myself as a mommy, writer, lawyer. Needless to say, each of those things is a full-time job. So, necessarily there are instances when the time required by each of them add up to more than 24 hours in a day. I'm in one of those periods right now.  So, I'll wake up at midnight, carve out four hours of work, then nap for a few hours before I have to get up to feed the horses, and take care of the dogs, cats, hermit crabs. My husband does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to running our boys back and forth to school and events. In other words, I make it work until I fall down. Okay, again not the best strategy but it's who I am.

Time is our most precious commodity. With time you can generate money, which then lets you buy more time by hiring someone to do those tasks you don't want to do or aren't cost effective for you to do. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

As a lawyer in solo practice I can generate my invoices every month. It takes me about 2 hours to prepare the drafts, review and finalize them, and mail the bills out. Two hours isn't a huge amount of time but you then need to put that into the time/money equation. I charge $300 an hour for my time. Generating bills "costs" me $600.00 in lost fees. I can hire someone to carry out this function for me for $24.00 an hour or about $50.00 per month. By hiring someone else I free up two hours of my time for $50. A net profit of $550. Worth it.

This same math applies to home improvements. Sure I can change out light fixtures, build a walk or put up a fence but is all that time worth spending? Probably not. So, while it annoys the heck out of me, I'll hire someone to do a task I could because I'd rather spend my time with my kids or writing or doing just about anything else.

But the equation falls apart when it comes to writing where time spent does not always equal money. In fact, the time/money equation strongly suggests that the time spent writing should be spent elsewhere. Writers spend hundreds of hours on each book and most writers don't their living solely from writing.

So why write?

Writing is a passion. You don't dedicate yourself to a profession where rejection is far more likely than success if you don't care deeply about what you're doing. Writers are self-motivating. We don't punch in on a time clock, literal or figurative. Most successful writers spend every moment they can in some writing-related task. Kevin J. Anderson, who is know for having multiple books published a year, probably works ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week.  I keep a notebook with me so while I'm waiting for a case to be called I can scribble down another few sentences.

Passion makes all the difference in the world. I don't mind that I'm not up to date on the latest TV show. I'd rather be telling my own stories. I can spend the money earned during the day job to buy me more time to write.

Do I hope that my time investment in writing will pay off? Of course. But that's not why I write. Simple math only takes you so far. Your heart has to take you the rest of the way.

1 comment:

Heather Holden said...

Time is always so elusive, which is why I decided to give up a lot of TV shows this past year. I'd rather spend my free time on my own projects, especially since you never know how long that free time will continue to be free!