Reasons To Chose to Write or Not to Write

Writing on the iPad
Writing on the iPad

So this is the typical blog away from blog post that seems to grace the pages of almost every blog I have ever read. For the first time in the 10-15 years I have been writing on my blog, I took a year off. Though I did stop writing here for a while, I never stopped writing off-blog posts in my DayOne App (the best journal writing app ever by the way) or on Twitter and Facebook. I had wanted to take this break for a while, to get some perspective, and I did. After being away for so long I kept wondering if I would ever come back, what the purpose is/was, and why it even matters if I ever write another word here in a world already filled with so much noise as it is.

When it comes to choosing not to write, I tried find reason behind these statements.

  1. It takes too much time.
  2. There is enough noise out there already.
  3. No one wants to read every thought that crosses the mind, ever (that’s still the case).
  4. Ultimately, who cares what’s “not created” by a writer.
  5. I had lost the freedom of speech on my own blog.

I doubt those questions have answers for the most part, and it is the stereotypical question and response of everyone who wants to start a blog but never does. Ultimately, what’s worth doing is worth doing, even, or especially, if there is no recognizable audience at the time. Blogging is somewhat like doing life together with the rest of the world. It leaves you open to ridicule, criticism, trolls (see a great article ‘Your Opinion is Obsolete‘), and oblivious objecting observers, when not writing removes those negativities. But the easiest thing to do is not to write.

I was somewhat inspired to get back to writing here after reading Roger Angell’s “Five Seasons” this past off season, the start of the Auburn baseball season, and the honest reflections of another sports writer who recently lost his job. Then for some reason, I became responsive to that inspiration after reading Joe Posnanski’s post about what was on his book shelf. It had nothing to do with the list of books he calls great (which was great), but by his opining about his office and how long it took him to come to the point. Great writing is like that. It’s the journey to the finishing point that creates the pleasures of wading through the details. You almost want the writer to slow down because you know the end is in sight.

As a writer (that is the act of writing something original… I make no claims to be on the level with the likes of Angell or Posnanski), the one on the list that bothered me the most was the last one. Once you start writing to please, or to not offend, the writing becomes less real, contains less of me. I still haven’t figured this one out. I admire those who have found the answer, or have ignored the question all together and just plowed ahead.

In the end, I hate being just a consumer of material. I read countless blogs, news articles, books, and other writings where the authors’ purpose was only fulfilled long after it was written. The purpose of the written word is, to be read, by somebody at some time, even if the knowledge of that purpose is never know by the writer himself. So… I write.

Consume More, Creating is Like Paying Taxes

You may be thinking you don’t create anything but I wanted to know, do we pay attention to the difference between when we consume something and create something?  I listened to an album by Chris Tomlin this morning on the way to work, but I didn’t create an album.  I also consumed a message by Rusty during our Tuesday men’s meeting, breakfast, read several blog posts, and bought something at Best Buy (none of which I created).

If you say initially, no, I don’t or haven’t created anything, I would ask then, have you taken a photo, written a blog post, spoken at a conference or meeting, or given birth to an idea?  Creating can be like paying taxes.  You go throughout your day and once the day is over, you don’t even realize how many times you paid taxes throughout the day.  Every time we buy something, download something, eat, fill up our gas tanks, use electricity, we pay taxes, so like wise, we create in various ways throughout the day too.

This country in particular is all about consuming, but what are we consuming compared to what are we producing that others will consume?  Most of our consumables today are in the form of mass produced items made in China (thanks Biscuet), but that is not all we consume.  Most of those are physical products, products “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19).  So is creating something what we I should be more focused on, right? Depends.

As with everything, we need a balance, but what if all we did was consume?  Can we live by only consuming in one area, like information?  What if that information was God’s word?  Of course, the idea is how often do we consume God’s word.  Where is the balance, and when do we need to take what we have consumed of God’s word and start creating?  Do we create from consuming God’s word?  Absolutely.

Just ask your worship leader or pastor.  Part of their job is directly converting the consumption into a creation.  For most of us, we have to consume more.  Drink in the Word like a Coke or cup of coffee and have it become a part of us until we have the ability to grow the coffee beans, ship them to a manufacturer, grind them up, sell them, and brew the coffee without ever thinking about what steps it took to get from point A to point B.

This is one of the things I am trying desperately trying to focus on this year.  I am amazed at how hard that is to do when working inside the walls of the church.  Initially, I was thinking, ok, now I can be immersed in God’s word all day since I am working in “ministry” or at the “church”.  Oh course I knew this wasn’t going to be the case but I have found it no easier to go deep into God’s word and consume Him now, than I did before I walked into the building with a staff label instead of a attender label.

So I am telling myself to consume more, but can you really have one without the other?

10 Ways to Continue to Create Original Ideas

Well this is start of the first full week of the new year, and actually the first official week in my position here at work.  I want to say I am getting settled in but I think I did that in the month of December.  As I sit here in a borrowed office for today I am thinking about so many new things going on here at Cornerstone that makes it an exciting time here, and a busy time.

This week we started a new series called “Alive”.  We will be going through the book of Colossians for the next month, and at the same time starting a walk through journaling our thoughts and questions as we study through this book.

The creative minds over here decided to do something different and actually engage (not that we don’t try to do that anyway) with everyone on a different level.  We started a website (http://www.thealivejournal.com) that corresponds to a paper journal everyone received on Sunday.

As we walk through the book, the website will be updated with new scriptures and an application each day for the remaining of the series.  A fresh approach and something that will hopefully catch on with others.  I know writing is like many other things in life.  The more you write, the better you get, and the more you write.

How Do We Continue to Create?

How do we continue to create?  It doesn’t matter if you are working for a church, a school, self-employed, or whatever, creativity is important, it keeps our minds “alive”.  Opening up and becoming more creative is something I strive to do each day, but I don’t buy into the notion that there are creative people and people who are not creative.  Everyone is creative, but not everyone allows it to come out, or deems it to be important.

Looking ahead I don’t want this to be the pinnacle of creativity this year.  To me, there are basically three areas of creativity (I know there are many more but follow me here) that pretty much encompass everything else; writing, o-graphy (that would be photo-video), and music.  So, to me, the key is how to grow in each of these areas and find new ways to create in each of these areas.

Anne Jackson wrote a great piece today, The Death of Publishing as We Know It: Who Holds the Smoking Gun? that talks about how the publishing industry has screwed itself into the ground by publishing so many mediocre books.  True, we are not all writers, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write.  As a photographer I would say the same thing.  Just because you are not a professional photographer does that mean you are never going to pick up a camera again?  My key for myself is to write more, shoot more, and read more.

So, as some say, here is a “mind dump” in no particular order.

10 Ways to Create Original Ideas

  1. Write more, read more, and learn more about media
  2. Surround yourself with creative minds when you can
  3. Ask someone for help or suggestions
  4. Expand what you normally do and be different
  5. Get out of your routine, go outside your normal elements
  6. Remember your focus – what is it, making money, salvation, discipleship?
  7. Don’t copy —- take, redesign, and create something new
  8. Don’t be afraid of the box – throw the box out and don’t worry about what is “correct”
  9. Think for yourself.  Don’t let others tell you how to think.  Study and think for yourself
  10. Be prepared to fail and try something else

Number 7 is a little vague I know.  What I mean is what we read from Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Most “new” is something that was improved upon from something or someone else.  So find something good and make it great.  My problem is always “finding the new”.

This is really my list for myself.  I have never felt like I was a very creative person but most of that is because I refused to let it surface.  It had no real purpose.  Perhaps the older I get the more important it is and the harder I have to work at it to get better.