pragmatist
Patrick Joyce

April 19, 2015

What did I do with all that time?

Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.

Chuck Close1

Sometimes the hardest thing about work is getting started.

There are days where I wake up buzzing with ideas and dying to code. There are days when I wake up with nothing.

One thing I've realized about getting older is that you lose the time to fuck around.

I remember in eighth grade my English teacher, Ms. Barbely, telling us "you think I'm assigning a lot of work? Wait until you get to high school!"

I thought she was crazy. I thought I did plenty of work.

Then I went to high school and I realized she was right.

In high school, I remember teachers saying "We're not giving you that much to do, just wait until you get to college, you'll think this was a breeze"

And then I went to college—and more importantly realized I had to pay for college—and started working 3 nights a week in a restaurant.

What did I do with all that time I had in high school?

Then I decided if I was ever going to get a job as an engineer I needed to get some experience. So I took an internship at a small company 3 days during the week, took a full course load on the other 2 days, and then went to work 3 nights at the restaurant.

What did I do with all that time when I had just one job?

Then I graduated and got a full-time job.

Actually, that change meant I could drop the night job and really did open up a bunch of free time.

Then I moved in with my girlfriend… What did I do with all that time when I lived by myself?

Then I got engaged and had a wedding to plan... What did I do with all that time?

Then we had our wonderful son... What did I do with all that time?

Then we had our amazing daughter and "free time" really slipped away.

You get the idea. Life gets more complicated. I look back at each of those stages now and marvel at all the time I had.2

The time we have to build things is precious. I don't want waste it waiting around until "I'm feeling it."

Notes

  1. The full version of the quote: “The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”
  2. While starting might be hard I've also got some work to do on finishing things. I wrote the first draft of this so long ago that it included the line “I'm sure I'll look back someday on writing this now and think about how much free time I had when I only had one kid.” My daughter is about to turn one.

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