There’s just Not Enough Time!
I have to say, this has been my lament in many situations.
Of course, we know the adage that “everyone has the same 24 hours.” But that adage didn’t make any difference when I was attempting to get more done.
With a church to oversee. Children and grandchildren. Serving on City Council. Other community activities. And on and on.
Then I read Stephen Covey’s book again. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Do you remember the chapter about the rocks in a jar?
First, you have a pile of rocks of many different sizes and you fill the jar the best way you can. Many rocks get left out. They just won’t fit. There’s not enough room.
Then you try a different approach.
You put in the big rocks first. Then the middle sized ones. Finally you can fill in the crevices with the tiny rocks and pebbles.
Covey was linking this demonstration with time management. There are those big things, which require most of our time. The nine-to-five job. The running of the house. Childcare. Church work. Daily devotions.
Next come the middle sized time demands. Personal care. Doctor and dentist appointments. Volunteering at your child’s school carnival.
Then there are those little items. Leave dog at vet. Drop off cleaning. Write a quick note to teacher. You know those tiny time consumers which can overwhelm your day if you let them.
So Covey recommends that you take out your calendar and insert the large items first. Then the middle-sized. After those bigger plans are marked out on your calendar, it will be surprising how much vacant space you will see.
This Covey suggestion is what I like to use.
All those tiny time consumers can be put on a list. You have 10 minutes while you are waiting for your child? Pull out an item from your list and whip it off quickly. A phone call. A note. Paying a bill. Making a grocery list or planning a meal.
It’s amazing what can be done with proper planning.
But this is the best part: When you plan your time in this way, there will still be some blank spots on your calendar.
Those are the times you can use to take on some long term projects. Those things you don’t think you have time for right now.
That, in fact is how I wrote and published my first book.
After years of feeling inadequate and too busy to write, I marked my calendar and found some time. Maybe an hour here. Two hours there.
It’s amazing what concentration and commitment will do for us.
Those smaller moments add up, and soon the project is completed. That “wow” moment when it’s done!
The excitement of completing that first book was worth all of the effort I had put into finding the time. All of the organization and planning. That first book was worth whatever-it-took to do it! I was a published author!
Now I have to say that there are other ways of establishing time for a project. That’s why I devoted a whole webinar in my course “It’s Time For You To Write That Book, 2.0” to The Time Factor. I discuss the Big rock/little rock method. I also discuss some other approaches.
Everyone is different. Even though this Covey idea suits me, not everyone thinks or works in that fashion.
But there are other ways of getting the job done. Other plans for finding or making the time for long term projects you want to do.
Plans which will help you to write your book. To make that lasting impact you want to make.
Be blessed. And remember to Keep on Soaring!
Has this ever happened to you?You’re all excited about writing an article, report, or book. You open up a fresh document on your computer. You type in your file name, maybe a title, maybe even a few sentences.
But then it feels like your brain shuts down. Suddenly you find yourself just staring at a nearly blank screen. The words don’t come.
Uh oh, you have writer’s block.
If you do any writing at all, you’ll probably experience writer’s block from time to time.
Here’s how to overcome it…
Of course, prayer is always the first order of business. Relax and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and remind you of what He wants to say.
Then here are some additional practical tips.
Sometimes you get stuck simply because you’re tired of looking at the same four walls, the same computer screen, etc. It helps if you can do something to kick start your creativity and give your brain a change of scenery. For example:
- Put on music that inspires you.
- Get out of your usual office and go someplace completely different, like a park or a coffee shop.
- Spend 15-30 minutes doing something different, such as exercising (which will make you feel better).
Copy a Good Piece of Text
This is a way to force your brain to get in the “groove” of writing well. Simply take a passage from one of your favorite authors and start copying it by hand. You can also copy poetry, good sales letters, or anything else that’s well-written.
Naturally, you’re not using this content for anything. You’re just jump starting your own creative process by really thinking about someone else’s well-written piece.
Write Anything That Comes to Mind
Another way to get over writer’s block is to just start writing anything that pops into your head. If you have to write about this week’s grocery list, fine.
If you have to start off writing, “I don’t know what to write” two dozen times across the top of the page, fine. But the point is, just get your fingers moving across the keyboard. After about 20 minutes, your mental “log jam” should be broken up and your creativity released.
Create a Piece About Something Else Entirely
Sometimes it helps to write about something else that isn’t even remotely related to the thing that you need to write about.
So if you need to write an article about Christian Living, you can start by writing an article about how to tie your shoes. Or if you need to create a knowing who you are in Christ, then write a story about how you met your significant other.
Again, this is just a way to loosen up your creativity and get those fingers moving across the keyboard. Once you turn to the piece you do need to write, it will likely go much more smoothly.
Start in the Middle
Have you ever noticed that the introduction is often the hardest part to write? That’s because you use it to give a sneak peek at what the rest of the article, report or ebook is about. But if you haven’t yet written the rest of the content piece, then it’s easy to get stuck on the introduction.
The solution is simple: Start in the middle.
Just skip the intro and go straight to the next paragraph or the first chapter. Then you can do the introduction last, which makes it much easier since now you know exactly what all topics you covered in the rest of the piece.
Every writer gets the dreaded writer’s block from time to time. However, don’t let it slow you down.
Next time your brain is moving like molasses, just use the tips above to jump start the creative process!
Let’s be honest. Have you ever noticed that a lot of Christian writing is actually fairly boring?
Yet even if everyone else is creating dry, mediocre content, you don’t have to. You can determine that what you say will be interesting as well as informative.
And one way to do that is to really connect with your audience.
So how do you create this connection between your words and the hearts and souls of your audience?
let me share a couple of tips…
Stories are good ways to connect with your readers, because a story tends to help you form that emotional connection. It helps the reader identify with you. And a story is much more memorable than simply telling a reader what to do.
You can write this story about you or someone else. Either way, however, the story will be more impactful if the main character is very similar to your readers.
So if your readers are stay at home moms, then you’ll connect to them better if your story is about a stay at home mom who overcame some of the same problems she faces. A story which inspired you.
A story can also help to demonstrate to your readers that you really understand them and their problems. And when a reader feels like the author understands him, you can bet he’ll keep reading.
Create “Reader Oriented” Writing
Your readers have perhaps read plenty of articles, reports and ebooks on the same topic as the one you’re writing about. However, a lot of this content is “author oriented.” That means that it seems to be more about the author rather than the readers
Example: You might read a book about having a good marriage in which the author seems to boast repeatedly about his credentials or delve into personal stories that actually aren’t of interest or relevant to the reader.
One way to quickly check if your writing is author-oriented is to see how many times you’ve used words like “I” or “me” versus how often you use words like “you” and “yours.” You want to use more “you” writing, since this is reader-oriented writing.
Let me give you an example:
- Author-oriented writing: “I’m going to tell you about how I lost weight.”
- Reader-oriented writing: “You’re going to discover a weight-loss trick that’s worked for me – and it will work for you, too.”
Engage the Audience
If you’re writing a “how to” article, then it’s easy to fall into the familiar pattern of writing a straightforward article: “This is step 1… this is step 2…” Basically, it’s the same kind of article everyone else publishes.
Instead, engage your audience by freshening up your writing. This includes:
Adding in your own tips. In particular, include unique tips and tricks not found anywhere
Using stories to illustrate points. Be sure to engage all five of your reader’s senses to really bring him into your story.
Inserting examples to make things more clear. Just look at the way I gave an example of reader versus author-oriented writing above.
Including “spiced up” writing. For example, instead of merely describing someone as nervous, you could say “He was so jittery he could not stay in his chair.”
You’ve painted a picture in their minds which is always more impactful.
You’re writing with a purpose, whether it’s to teach your readers something or just to develop a good relationship with them. However, these goals are possible only if your writing engages and connects with your audience.
Use these tips and watch your connections flourish!
You know the old proverb that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That is so true. People are visual, and because of that a picture – especially a picture explained in detail – will get points across better than lots and lots of talk.
That’s why Jesus used parables to deliver the truth. He was a master at the tool of story-telling.
So let’s take a look at how we can incorporate that tool into our writing.
Here’s why it works:
Stories make people pay attention. Indeed, people pay huge sums of money to read stories (novels) and watch them (movies).
Stories make people remember. If you want to teach something to someone, tell a story. That’s why the world’s most famous teaching tool, the Bible, is packed full of stories.
Stories tap into emotion. You can’t convince your readers to hear your advice until they feel something emotionally. So what better way to put them in the right emotional state than by telling them a story!
You can see the benefits. But maybe you’re wondering how this works for you.
Indeed, one of the best places to tell a story is on your blog. And that’s because it gives you the opportunity to really connect with your readers.
Here’s how to create a story-telling blog post…
Hook Your Readers Immediately
Forget about an article that starts by telling the readers what they’re going to learn. Instead, jump right into your story. And engage the reader’s senses whenever possible.
Example: Perhaps you’d start a Marriage-Help article like this: “Suzy felt hopelessness wash over her. Every Monday morning seemed to be the same. There were these issues between them that they just couldn’t seem to discuss. Their attitudes toward money. Their attitudes toward the children. They seemed to disagree on so much!”
Transition From Story to Facts and Benefits
Now you need to start tying your story into the points you wish to make.
So often people who face these hard times want to give up and think there is no hope for their marriage.
Yet you are armed with scriptures and wisdom from God about prayer and faith. You can use this story to share testimonies of people who have faced worse but who have trusted God and entered into a new era of excellence in their marriage.
The truth is, story-telling is just one way to turn your blog posts into great teaching moments – without being pedantic. When people engage in the pictures portrayed in these stories, they are able to see the hope offered them.
You have these ideas circulating in your head, and you can hardly wait to start writing them down. You know your subject and you know it well. Maybe your area of expertise is Biblical understanding of marriage, or prayer, or finances, or ministry to women in crisis. If you’re already an expert in your niche, then you can probably sit down and write an article, a report, or an e-book without having to consult any sources.
Yet if you’re like most people, then you need to do some research before you start writing. Even if you are an expert, researching other resources can help you to expand the benefit of your writing. And if you want to end with an accurate, useful article, then you’d better be sure you do your research the right way.
So here are some tips…
Create Multiple Searches
You’ll get a wider variety of sources and information if you complete several Google searches. Let’s suppose you’re looking up information about prayer. You’d want to do several searches, such as:
- Praying for family
- Praying for children
- Praying for husband or wife
- Praying for revival
- Biblical prayer
- Christian prayer
- How to pray
These are just a few ideas. You will think of your own, but you will see that as you search, you will come up with quite a few sources of information.
Use Credible Sources
Anyone can put just about anything online. And that’s why it’s so important for you to get your information from credible sources only. This includes:
- Well-known experts. For example, you can trust people like Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, or Germaine Copeland in the prayer niche.
- Established authority sites. These are sites like Elijah List or John Bevere’s Messenger International.org which are known for providing high-quality information.
- News sites. Stick to major news sites, like Charisma News or Breaking Christian News.
- Academic and research sites. These include official university websites as well as research papers in peer-reviewed journals. Oral Roberts University or Lee University are just a couple of universities which would have valuable information.
Verify With Multiple Sources
Even if you are going through credible sources for your research, be sure to use multiple sources.
In other words, verify all facts with at least two or three credible sources. In the mouths of two or three witnesses let everything be established. (Deut. 19:15)
As you’re doing your research, take notes about important points. If you think of your own examples, stories or tips, write these down too.
That’s because you’re going to want to close all your sources before you start writing to avoid accidentally plagiarizing anyone else’s material. Thus you’ll refer to your notes rather than referring directly to a source.
Tip: In order to create truly original content, it’s best if you find your own fresh angle for the topic. For example, many writing books and articles refer to the importance of telling stories to illustrate your points and grab attention.
Credit Your Sources
If you’re using multiple sources to do your research on something which is written about often, like prayer, then generally you’ll find that the information is the same across these sources.
Thus you just need to write the information in your own words and add in your own unique tips, examples, and stories.
However, if you’re gathering research on something specific, and quoting someone exactly, then you need to cite your source.
In this case, you’d track down the original scholarly journal and cite this journal at the end of your article, report, or e-book.
You need to make sure your information is accurate by researching a variety of credible sources. However, you also need to make sure that any content piece you create is completely original.
So while you can certainly use a content piece for inspiration and research, you cannot copy or merely “rewrite” other people’s work. Instead, you need to write all your content in your own words, preferably adding in your own experiences whenever possible.
The result is fresh information, drawing upon the experience of others, but filtered through your own understanding. That’s how you can inform and inspire your audience.
As you continue with your research, you will find many ideas which you might like to use in your own articles. By drawing upon the experience of others – as well as your own – you bring new inspiration to your audience.
You and your audience will be inspired as you do.