Writers Write

I’m asked the questions all the time: What does it take to be a writer? How can I be a better writer? How can I be a more successful writer? They may dream of launching a blog or getting published in a magazine or completing their debut novel. My reply is always the same: Writers write. It’s the most obvious advice in the world, I know. But it’s advice every writer needs to hear and take to heart. Writers write. …

How I Use Mind Mapping Software

Much of life is an attempt to bring order from chaos. The pastor who sets out to prepare a sermon fills his mind with information and then needs to arrange it according to a unified theme. The author who sets out to write a book collects information from a hundred sources and then needs to lay it out in a logical manner. Ministries, marketing campaigns, fundraising drives, and even family vacations begin as chaos and eventually come to a state …

Become a Patron

Death to Clickbait!

I hate clickbait. I absolutely despise it. Clickbait is lazy. It’s manipulative. It’s distracting and disappointing. It’s an abomination. Death to clickbait! What is clickbait? “Clickbaiting is the intentional act of over-promising or otherwise misrepresenting—in a headline, on social media, in an image, or some combination—what you’re going to find when you read a story on the web.” It uses headlines with provocative adjectives—stunning, amazing, unbelievable, shocking. It promises that it will blow your mind, that you won’t believe what you …

A Call for Plodding Bloggers

I believe that blogs have been a blessing to the church in the twenty-first century. Maybe I have to believe this since I have blogged nearly every day of the century. Still, with every bit of objectivity I can muster, I say it and believe it: For all their problems and all their shortcomings, blogs have been a blessing. They have served the church and the cause of the church. Over my years of reading and writing blogs, I have …

Writing Tips: Tools & Context

I love to write, I write often, and I share my writing publicly. For those reasons I am often asked to share tips. How can I write more? How can I write better? More than once I have compiled tips on writing, and several times I have recommended books and resources on the craft. But today I want to offer a handful of new tips that are a little bit different from the kind I have offered before. In the …

Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits

I have been blogging for 12 years now. For at least 11 of those years, people have been predicting the end of the blog. The reasons have changed, but the predictions have been consistent: It is only a matter of time before the blogosphere collapses. Last month Christianity Today ran an article by Amy Julia Becker titled “Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits.” She points to high-profile bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Heather Armstrong. Both of them have recently decided to …

3 Helpful Instructions on Keeping a Journal

I am a committed blogger, but a sporadical journaler. If blogging is thinking out loud and in public, journaling is thinking quietly and in private. I am convinced that both practices have value, and I have often regretted my lack of dedication to the discipline of keeping a journal. This regret was heightened as I encountered a little postscript at the end of one of John Flavel’s books. Having written a couple hundred pages of theologically-dense teaching on God’s providence, …

On Writing Well (5 Big Tips)

We learned recently that William Zinnser has died. He was known primarily as the author of On Writing Well, a classic guide to composing non-fiction. It is a book that has meant a lot to me as I have attempted to mature as a writer. This weekend I breezed back through all my notes and highlights and found that the ideas that most impacted me can be distilled into 5 simple headings. I also found that the ideas are applicable not …

Friction

When it comes to writing, my most common struggle is not one of increasing inspiration but of decreasing friction. Sure, on some occasions the problem is one of inspiration, of coming up with the fresh and interesting ideas. But more often the problem is one of friction, of getting those ideas out of my mind and onto the page. For that reason I, like many other writing enthusiasts, value any tool that reduces friction, that makes it easier and smoother …

A Master at His Craft

I once watched a master glassblower at his craft. I had pulled off the highway to look for coffee, a small pick-me-up during a day-long drive. And in that search for a decent cup, I spotted his studio, a converted warehouse, far off the main street of a small Pennsylvania town. One of his assistants invited me in and for a time I sat, mesmerized, as I watched him work. The artist did not say what he intended to make, …