Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

5 Practices for Better Writing

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I do not describe myself as a writer, although I enjoy it very much. I am a minister and this requires me to write, and write well. Each week I write at least one sermon, sometimes two. For each sermon I write an entire manuscript of what I am going to say. I also write a weekly article for our bulletin. I sometimes write handouts for classes I teach. I do lots of writing for grad school. I occasionally write reviews and articles for magazines and other publications, and I write for this blog. I do not claim to be a professional writer, but there is not a day that goes by where I do not write something. I have learned a lot about writing and creativity over the years. It is not something I have mastered. I am continually working to learn more and sharpen my skills. Writing is kind of like life. We must always work at getting better. Here are 5 practices I have adopted to help me become a better writer.

Never Leave Home Without Your Journal – I used to think journals were stupid. If I could not remember it, then it wasn’t a great idea. I was so wrong. Now, I never leave home without my Moleskin. I write down every good idea I have, so I can reflect on it later. I also write down important things other people say. I keep track of things that inspire me and books I may want to read. My journal does not contain reflections on my day. It is a book full of thoughts and information I have collected. This is the beginning of many of my articles, sermons, posts, etc. I have found the practice of writing everything down and processing it later to be very helpful.

Set Goals and Deadlines for Yourself – Structure is good. You need goals and deadlines to get things done. These do not have to be rigid deadlines, although they work also. My goal maybe to go to the coffee shop and write something. This is not detailed goal. It is not a goal that places a lot of pressure on me, but it is a goal that gives my afternoon direction. I will not be surfing the web, checking e-mails, reading a book, etc. I will spend my afternoon writing. If you do not set some kind of goal or deadline for yourself, then you will never get anything done.

Look Beyond Your Field of Expertise – Creativity is a big part of writing. A person can find inspiration from anywhere, but I have found it helpful to look beyond my field of ministry. I may go to the bookstore and scan the magazine rack. I will then choose a magazine that looks interesting, but is not one I would normally choose. God’s truth is everywhere. It is not limited to the profession you have chosen or the hobby you like to do. I have come to a better understanding of the world by not limiting the places where I search for God’s truth. This has made me a better writer and a better follower of Jesus.

Use Building Blocks to Create Something Great – I used to dread doing devotionals (mini-sermons). I would think and think about what I was going to do my devotional on. I had many good ideas, but I always thought to myself, “This will make a great sermon. I cannot waste it on a devotional.” Devotionals were harder for me to write than sermons because I wanted to hold on to all my ideas. Don’t do that. Don’t hold on to your ideas. If you have a good idea set it free. Send it out on Twitter or Facebook. If you get a lot of positive feedback, then you know it is a good idea. Take that good idea and work with it some more. Turn it into a blog article or a sermon. If you collect a lot of good ideas you may even write a book. I have found that good ideas breed more good ideas if you set them free.

Read Writers Who Write Well– School taught me the basics about writing, but it did not teach me about the art of writing. This is something that comes from reading other people who write well. Some people are just better writers than others. Find out who these people are and read them. I read very little fiction, but I choose who I read very carefully. I have come to appreciate fiction writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy. Read the classics even if they are sometimes difficult to understand. I read Shakespeare’s sonnets even though there are some that are hard for me to grasp. I do this because I know Shakespeare is a talented writer and I am amazed at his use of words. Reading talented writers will inspire you, and their genius will rub off and help you to become a better writer.

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