AI: Time is the enemy of art

Image Credit: Maggie McFee

One of my many problems is finding the time to do the things I want to. Like posting on Mad Art Lab. Or drawing my ever-so-slowly-turning-stale webcomic. It would be flippant, but true, to say it used to be easier. But it was easier because I was doing less and less was expected of me. My job was less demanding, I wasn't volunteering myself so much and my involvement in outside activities was less… involved. And my aspirations were less time-consuming, too (I'm currently attempting to put a business together). But now I find myself so at a loss for time to do things that I've had to give up some things, things I love like Boston Skeptics and making art for art's sake,  to 'make time'. 

Why the overwrought air quotes, Maggie? – Sorry, but I have to air quote 'make time' as I find the phrase laughable. We're not 'making' time so much as we're cutting the throat of some other activity so as to take over its time. We don't 'make' time so much as we steal it. 

So what about you? Is time the enemy of your creative drive? Or have you focused so singly on your goal that you've made time your slave? Cut away all the excess? Or, have you found ways to steal time? And how do you do it?


I'm a technology nerd, sometimes artist and a science geek. I work at [redacted Ivy League university] where I run the Physics computing group. I'm also an organizer for the Boston Skeptics, a video nerd and I draw and read comics; mostly read these days. I like my beer like I like my science. That is, if science were pulled from a Guinness tap, which it is not. So... yeah. That last bit's wrong. You can find out more about me at and read my webcomic

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  1. Oh, wow part of my driving force is the fact that I feel like there is never enough time to do all the projects I want to do. It keeps me up at night and it makes me extreemly prolific.  (I can't even count how many Surlies I have made over the years) Problem is, it makes me feel a little crazy and I have to force myself to wind down and take a break. I think I suffer from insomnia because I am always chasing the clock, truly satisfied only for a brief moment in time at that second when one project is completed and it’s time to start anew. No time for rest. There is ART TO MAKE!

  2. It’s not just art, either. It’s everything! I think I was like 11 years old when it dawned on me that the list of things that I wanted to understand completely was already longer than could be hoped to fit into a single lifetime, and with a sinking feeling I understood that there were going to be countless things that I simply never would have enough time to do.

    One of the ways that I fight Time The Enemy is by taking a ruthless attitude towards deadlines. Life has taught me over and over that a majority of personal projects without deadlines never actually get completed. Firm in the belief that it’s better to finish making something that sucks (or at least so you think at the time) than to make nothing, I assign myself deadlines, with actual teeth. It’s amazing how one is suddenly able to pull out a nugget of free time from a week that seemed far too full already, when the deadline is breathing down your neck.

  3. Yeah. Breadbox, that ruthless attitude is one I'm finding I have to learn. I'm far too quick to say "I can help you with X!" and wind up with too much on my plate. As hard as it is, I need to stop doing that so much. It's led me to have to make some hard choices recently (last night was my last night as a Boston Skeptics organizer, for instance) and I'm having to re-think how I spend my free time if I want to get any further with my personal goals. I want/need to spend more time in my shop, for instance, so I just have to tell friends "I'm really sorry, I can't hang out, I'll be in my shop all weekend. It's something I need to do, I hope you understand." 

  4. I should probably add to this that my day job requires a lot of my time, including some time after hours on occassion. That's why I'm having to become so… what's the word… well, why I'm starting to obsess over every free hour. They seem so few and precious lately. heh

  5. The bitter irony is how different it is when free time is plentiful. It’s so easy to remain lethargic and half-motivated when you have all the time in the world. “I really want to start working on X. Nah, it’s already noon. I’ll pick up X tomorrow.”

    In contrast to, “okay it’s 8pm on Sunday, and I won’t have any more free time until next Friday, so I have to have X finished in the next three hours.”

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