The other day I went to the gym and began fast-walking on a treadmill. I had to force myself to do this as I wasn’t in the best mood to work out. I find that’s the time I must go. Afterwards, whatever has me in a low mood or whatever obstacle I think is in my way, seems more manageable.
As I got on and clicked on all the buttons (good grief, can a machine really tell me how much my blood pressure is, based on all that information I plug it — what if I punched in lot of nonsense, would it be different?) and began walking. I began gradually and then ramped it up as I went along. I noticed that the time elapsed/time remaining indicator is always on time remaining. I don’t like that and I always switch it over to time elapsed.
I always want to know how far I’ve gone instead of how much further I have to go. It got me to thinking that I apply that to everything I do. When I sit down to write a chapter on my novel or finish/begin a short story, I’ll glance at the clock. I make a decision I’m going to write for an hour or two. I may glance at it again and see that I’ve been writing for forty-five minutes (or whatever the case may be) and then keep going. I want to know how long I’ve been writing, not how much more I have to go.
Perceptions are Everything
There’s been plenty of studies on how we perceive time. How we perceive “time as flying by” or “dragging on……….” When I’m writing and I approach it as described above, time seems to fly by; I get excited that I’ve actually been doing it for as long as I have. If I had a clock on my desk that indicated I had forty-five minutes to go before I could reach my goal, I’d become discouraged. It’s those external time cues that tells our brains something is enjoyable/motivating or something, well, not so much so.
I read a study by the Chicago Booth (University of Chicago Booth School of Business), You’re Having Fun When Time Flies: The Hedonic Consequences of Subjective Time Progression where they had participants listen to twelve songs and rated how much they enjoyed them or didn’t. When the participants were shown how much time was remaining in a song, they didn’t enjoy it as much as when they didn’t know. It was the element of surprise that made the experience more enjoyable.
And Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening (and maybe I’m reaching here to make a point), has that time dragging-on factor in the last stanza:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Of course, the poem wouldn’t have worked if he’d said:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But the promises I’ve made I kept
And now I can rest before my next step.
Kind of breaks up the whole deep mood of the poem, huh? But, you get the point.
Maybe it’s related to the glass half-full/half-empty theory. Take the test here if you’re interested. I was an half-full kind of person. I love the element of surprise.
Hopefully, time flew by as you read this. If not,……….
Are you a time elapsed or time remaining kind of writer?