Why I Quit My Job So I Could Write More

Heh – when I logged onto WordPress this evening, I had no idea what I was going to write about, then saw I had saved this title two weeks ago. Present Greg thanks Past Greg!

It’s true, in a way – I quit my job so I could write more, but that was one part of the equation (yay, a cliche and I’m only on the second paragraph). I was in charge of information security for a decently sized community bank and I could have remained in the position for many more years beyond the five-and-a-half I had already served – maybe even to retirement. It was a comfortable existence. But God had other plans for me.rye-jessen-1145106-unsplash.jpg

On the professional side, the message I received was that while I was using my talents well, I could apply them more effectively. Small and midsized businesses don’t have access to the information expertise Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) bring, so we provide part-time virtual CISO services that fit their budget and risk tolerance. I’m using my talents more for service while still earning a living.

On the writing side, I am called to write Christian fiction novels, as I’ve mentioned before, but it wasn’t always that way. My first two novels are more fantasy with some Christian elements and some non-Christian ones. I struggled to find writing time, and quitting my job was supposed to provide more bandwidth to write.

Here’s the odd part of all of this. I am working harder in my professional field than I ever have before, and yet I have more time for writing. How is that possible? My making this move, I’ve eliminated several time-wasters:

Commute – I cannot begin to calculate how much time I’ve wasted in traffic. Podcasts and audio books can only go so far. For awhile, I rode a commuter bus to work and was able to then write during the commute, but the conditions were not ideal.

Now, my drive is less than five miles each way in light traffic. I could have kept my home office and reduced my commute to zero, but I found that I accomplish much more outside the home office.

Meetings – It’s a fact of corporate existence – meetings. Meetings to discuss meetings. Meetings to examine output from meetings. Meetings just to hold regular meetings. Meetings that you don’t need to be in. Sure there are productive meetings, but in hindsight looking back on my career probably 50% of the time I spent in meetings was wholly unproductive. Now all of my meetings are productive, because my clients pay by the hour.

Low-Value Projects – This relates to meetings, as all projects hold meetings to discuss progress. But when those projects are not significantly advancing the core reasons why you’re employed, all activities associated with the projects, including meetings, become an exercise in checking boxes. I once sat through a series of meetings on designing policy templates, including the type and size of font. Is that really an efficient use of a senior executive’s time? See the “pay by the hour” comment above.

Nine-To-Five – I have the flexibility to create my schedule as I see fit. This means that often I start the workday at 5:30, take a writing break from 7-8:30, and work until 3:30, then go to the gym, ride my bike, or whatever. When inspiration hits, I can stop what I’m doing (for the most part) and write. You can’t do that on corporate time.

The takeaway? God has given me the opportunity to use my time efficiently. It’s up to me to do so for His glory.

Photo by Rye Jessen on Unsplash

Slow Down!

Slow down, you crazy child
And take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two

-Billy Joel

Yesterday I wrote about discipline. A few hours later I ignored my own words. In a perceived rush, I deviated from disciplined driving and made an error that could of had disastrous results. It didn’t, but the rest of my journey I mentally slapped myself for momentarily losing discipline.zach-meaney-249436-unsplash

The funny thing is I wasn’t even running late. I was invited to speak to a class of graduate students about information security and had plenty of time baked into the drive. As it was, I arrived about 35 minutes early. Not smart.

We seem to live such rushed lives nowadays. I yearn for simplicity. Part of that involves just slowing down. Whether that be driving or anything else including writing, we sacrifice the great gift of the now when solely focused on the end goals. I’m sure everyone’s experienced driving to work with much on the mind and maybe running a bit late, and when you arrive at the office it’s difficult to remember much of the drive. Why would we remember anything? All of our focus was landing in the office.

Goals aren’t bad, rather they are like any other tool – beneficial when used properly, detrimental than not. My writing goal as I work on a 10,000 word novelette is 1,000 words per day. Today I was halfway through my goal when I wrote the line of dialogue “That was then, this is now.” Sound familiar? It did to me. That was a Monkees hit in the 80’s.

Ah, the Monkees, that silly made-for-TV 60’s group that actually churned out some good popular songs. I remember watching the show as a child, laughing at the antics of Mike, Davy, Peter, and Micky, and singing along to the opening theme (“Hey hey we’re the Monkees…). I hadn’t thought much about them recently until last month when Peter Tork passed away.

Maybe that still lingered in my mind when I wrote that line. I had a desire to stop writing (egad!) and  find the video for the song on YouTube. I did, and the next four minutes I was transported back to 1986 during their “reunion” tour (only Peter and Micky).

I didn’t need to slow down and stop writing, and certainly distractions while writing can be detrimental to progress. But we don’t need to go to extremes (another Billy Joel reference – yes!). Take a break every now and then, maybe to recharge, but certainly to remind yourself of this wonderful world around you, beyond the word in creation on the monitor.

Photo by Zach Meaney on Unsplash