How do you have time to write a book?

I met (met? is that the right word?) conversed with someone on imgur over the last 48hrs or so. We’ve done the standard getting to know each other, finding out how married and how many kids and what kind of work and what kind of music.

Since most of this conversation happened while I was at Fun Fun Fun Fest (That’s right, I went to a Festival with thousands of other people and ended up talking to someone in a chat window on my phone) I ended up mentioning that I ran into Teresa and Juliet. And therefore the book came up.

Unlike most of the discussions of the book, this one was short. My imgurian friend simply asked:

“How do you have time to write a book?”

The obvious answer is that I don’t have time to write a book, since it’s not done yet. And that’s how I responded, and that’s how that conversation ended. But I can’t shake the question; it opens a whole heap of things to think about.

Fact is, I don’t have time to write a book. I feel like I’m neglecting every aspect of my life. I don’t spend enough time with my family. I don’t spend enough time working my regular job to make the impacts I want, I don’t spend enough time working on my contract job to take them to the next level. I don’t spend enough time alone. I don’t take care of myself and my stuff as well as I’d like (it took me weeks to get a hair cut- and even then, I got it cut *at* the festival). I don’t spend enough time talking to my friends. I’m neglecting this amazing town I live in. I don’t spend enough time listening to music.

Considering I don’t have time for the essentials- how do I have time to write a book? How do I have time to write a blog that won’t be read for weeks? How do I have time to read all the stories on the internet, or go to music festivals, or converse with imgurians?

I may go to the F1 race this weekend (though, Kimi won’t be there, so…). How do I have time for that?

I look back on the stuff I do spend time on, and on the stuff I’ve neglected, and I really think very poorly of myself. The important stuff gets ignored and the pointless stuff gets extra brain cycles. I felt extra horrible today, when my lack of preparation meant that I was late to a conference call, and unable to join the live meeting. I was able to scramble and get it covered, but I’ve had to have people cover calls for me too many times recently.

I feel like a slacker.

Thankfully when I related that feeling to a friend, they reminded me of something very important. Plans can go awry, but slackers don’t have plans to begin with. It’s an interesting distinction that has helped me to realize something important. The fact that I feel like a slacker doesn’t have anything to do with being a slacker – it has to do with making plans that too easily go awry.

It’s not that I’m not trying, it’s not even that I have my priorities wrong, it’s that I need to change my process and planning. The problem likely is that I’m used to being able to swap business hours time for any other time of day, easily- and that’s just not the case anymore.

All hours used to have the same utility, working on code at 1am was just as good if not better than working on code at 9am. Now there’s a higher price on those hours between 8am and 5pm Eastern. Which is even different than 8-5 Central. My strategy is invalid.

And that’s why I don’t have time to write a book. I was keeping up with it “real time” – I’d get a month of book time written and finished in a month of real life time – since the world changed, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had some great ideas, and some great improvements to the overall flow of the story, and some changes to the characters themselves – but to this point, all those things have been ideas stuck in my head. They haven’t made it into the book, aside from some outline changes.

What I need is structure.

Which brings us to a very interesting full circle.

When I was thinking about doing this project, I liked the delay, but something deep down liked the structure. It liked the fact that it would force me to write daily. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why… Perhaps it was myself telling myself what I need.


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