It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere. I’m all alone, more or less.
At least that’s how many people feel a lot of the time (not just Red Dwarf fans). A voice in your head is analysing every last thing, continually in dialogue with itself. Add in the quest for meaning, whether at a personal level for one’s own life, or for humanity as a whole and things can get deep pretty quickly.
Having a combination of short, medium and long-term goals can certainly alleviate the self-imposed pressure of doing something worthwhile but it’s not a panacea.
Maybe the question shouldn’t be ‘Is it worth it?’ but finding either an answer or an alternative question isn’t easy.
When your pick apart the things you enjoy, what is it that makes them so?
Is it the comfort and familiarity of a process? is it the feeling of self-improvement? is it the benefit others feel as a result of your efforts?
I have a drive to try and spend more time producing than consuming. I want to generate a positive work output of some description that I am happy to identify as my own.
Coupled with this is the idea of being effective, making the most of my time. This has always been a consideration, trying to reduce time wasted (see yesterday’s post on Deadtime plans) and maximising productivity.
I get this isn’t for everyone, not least because there is a disproportionate return on investment; if I spend an hour watching tv that’s an hour I would consider enjoyable (assuming I wisely chose something like “The Bridge” or “Westworld”) and consequently would give me a short term boost. The same hour spent working away on something creative could potentially bear no fruit at all and there is no guarantee of an equivalent payoff.
Recently I started to think about the numbers involved and, more specifically, how I would calculate the payoff if I want it to be more than a self-indulgent ‘because I enjoy it’ justification.
To write a blog post start to finish will on average, take around an hour to complete. The final output will take around 3-5 minutes to read. In order for it to be a neutral on the effort vs reward scale I reckon I need 15 people to read it AND either enjoy or find it useful.
To rehearse a set for a show – 45 minutes of songs is around 10 songs, 2 hours to learn a song from scratch equates to around 20 hours. Assuming this is for a gig where I just rock up, plug in and perform there needs to be at least 27 people in the audience who enjoy the show.
To write and record an produce a song? At least 40 hours. Assuming the song comes in around three and a half minutes, I need close to 700 people to hear the song at least once and appreciate it on some level.
None of this puts me off, looking at it dispassionately and trying to establish a baseline by which I can say something was worth the effort ultimately gives me my target. Not every post I write may be read by 15 people, let alone useful to them but if within a year I can reach that as an average then I know everything beyond that is a win.
On this occasion it’s been more than an hour, but I’m fine with that. Reader number 16 may be just around the corner…
I’ll be here again tomorrow.