Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Writing by the Numbers 2019: Time

I loved getting to lead audiences through The Nature Plays
This is the final installment of my 2019 stats posts. Today, it's all about that most precious resource: time.

I was watching a documentary about Bill Gates last night, and his assistant talked about how punctual he is. "Time is the one thing he can't buy more of," she said. We all have only 24 hours in a day, and for all of us, life is finite. I'm 52 years old now and hitting the 50s definitely has made me even more aware that our time on this earth is limited. The death of my father this summer made me think a lot about how much time I have left.

Partly because I've been self-employed for so long, and also because I spent many years as a stay-at-home dad, when my time for creating was highly limited, I've tracked my working time carefully for years. Partly it's just because I'm a numbers nerd.

Some of my friends feel that tracking time would make a burden, or would be distracting, but I find the opposite. When I change to specific task, I enter a starting time and ending time into my spreadsheet (which is always open) which allows me to focus entirely on that task for that amount of time. When I reach the end the time I estimated, I can choose to keep going or not. But I'm always driven to at least reach the time that I expected to write. So if I start writing at 8 am and say that I will stop at 10, I work hard to fulfill the commitment I've made. No one wants to admit defeat and quit early. I certainly don't. When it comes to writing, once I get started, often I will have some momentum and just keep going. Which also feels great.

I lump research and writing and journaling into writing--for me, they are all part of the process. They're ass-in-the chair creating and thinking time, and that's what counts.

As you'll see, I also track meetings and rehearsal time, which are essential to being a writer, especially a playwright.  I also track admin time--emails are work, submitting plays is work, even cleaning my desk is work time. I also track volunteer endeavors--so I'm a Regional Rep for the Dramatists Guild, I need to know how much time that consumes. I look at volunteer time in theatre as sort of a professional time tithe--important to support the theatrical artistic community that is so important to me and my community.

My work time is also taken up with home renovations and real estate. Much of my financial contribution to our household has come through the carpentry and repair work that I've done our houses over the years. Now that we have rental property, time I spend on that is definitely work. (Someday we hope to develop new plays out there!)

I do have my limits as to what I can track. Tracking work time is super easy and helpful. I have a harder time remembering to track exercise, and I stopped tracking my gardening time--it's solely for fun and I often use it as a way to lose track of the clock.

Compared to 2018, this year I worked more hours and spent more in transit, but 500 of those hours were on house renovations and real estate. Plays in Place consumed a LOT of my time this year (producing plays is hard work), and that will continue as the company continues to grow. This year saw my highest total of working hours overall, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. (Finding the right balance is important.)

For those of you who are interested in the FI/FIRE movement or readers of Your Money or Your Life, my real hourly wage for my writing life is $6.15/hour. (Based on my net income divided by work and transit time.) This can be a scary calculation to make, but I think it's important to be realistic about the choice I'm making to be a writer.

For the coming year, I expect the mix of writing/house repair to stay about the same, which is fine with me-- feel more content in life when I have significant time working with my hands. My goal is 400 writing/thinking/researching hours this year, but we'll see how the year plays out. 

Here are my time stats for 2019:

Total working time: 2,119 hours    total transit time: 378 hours

Time spent on writing :  1,619 hours   
  • actual writing and research:  394 hours 
  • reading for work (not project research):  31 hours  
  • play attendance:  83 hours 
  • rehearsals and writing meetings:  375 hours  (includes teaching.)
  • marketing and admin:  210 hours  
  • New England New Play Alliance11 hours (I passed leadership for this to Greg Lam and Lisa Rafferty this year.)
  • Dramatists Guild79 hours    
  • Plays in Place:  437 hours (This is my new theatre company.)
  • Transit time for writing projects: 294 hours

Time spent on Home Renovations/Real Estate: 500 hours

  • Renovations and repairs to current house:  102 hours
  • Acquiring and fixing new place in Northampton: 398 hours
  • Transit time for these:  84 hours

Here's how my time was spent in past years:

2018:  1,905 total works hours. 1,905 writing hours (546 writing/30 reading/89 play attendance/553 rehearsing/373 marketing & admin/41 New Play Alliance/110 Dramatists Guild/164 Plays in Place).  282 hours in transit.

2017:  2,018 total work hours.  1,338 writing hours (371 writing/23 reading/468 rehearsing/347 marketing/129 New Play Alliance and Dramatists Guild)+680 hours on house renovations

2016:  2,096 total work hours. 1,223 writing hours (416 writing/28 reading/438 rehearsing/274 marketing-admin/67 New Play Alliance)+873 on house renovations.

2015: 1,596 total work hours.  1,035 writing hours (262 writing/52 reading/295 rehearsing/303 marketing-admin/123 New Play Alliance) + 561 on moving and house renovations

2014:  1,556 total work hours. 1,426 writing hours (452 writing/109 reading/342 rehearsing/396 marketing/127 New Play Alliance) + 130 hours farming.

 2013:  1,898 total work hours.  996 writing hours (394 writing/308 rehearsing/294 marketing)  + 902 hours farming

2012:  1,630 total work hours.  896 writing hours.  (386 writing/278 rehearsing and meeting/231 marketing)   + 734 hours farming

2011: 818 writing hours.  (I didn't break out rehearsals from desk writing time in 2011). My kids were a lot younger back then.

I hope you all have a productive and prosperous 2020!  Happy New Year!

I'll spent lots more time in my paint clothes in 2020

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