This photo is the stack of books next to my desk I need to read. It’s big, but it’s not random. My dad used to read even more than me, but WHAT he read were random books. Books his friends recommended. Others he found on sale. Books he stumbled upon. On the other hand, I read strategically. I believe to maximize your time, and increase your knowledge, you need a strategic plan for reading. Here’s what I mean:
Over the years, I’ve recommended ghostwriters on multiple occasions to my clients. In fact, early in my career, I was paid to write a number of books for clients myself without ever getting any credit. After all, do we really believe all major corporate executives, celebrities, professional athletes, or leaders are good writers? And it’s no different with pastors. The irony here is that although a significant part of their job is communication, the vast majority of pastors I’ve met are just not terribly good when it comes to writing. So if you have a message you need to share, and a book is the right platform (but you’re not a strong writer) then by all means, consider hiring a professional writer or editor to help. But I just have one caveat:
One of my favorite writers has always been John Gardner, author of Grendel, October Light, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, and others. His books, The Art of Fiction, On Becoming a Novelist, and On Moral Fiction are required reading for serious writers. In his book The Art of Fiction he gives some advice that, although it’s primarily for writers, it’s just as true for other creative endeavors. In a world of puffy, cheesy creative quotes, this is some of the best, most realistic, and encouraging advice I’ve ever heard:
From time to time you may get a book published, produce a movie, lead a major event, or do something else significant and have the opportunity to work with a public relations firm or publicist. Their job is to attract attention to your book, film, movement, business – whatever. But hiring a publicist isn’t a magic button. Perhaps in the old days of legacy media, you hired a publicity expert and then sat back and collected big paychecks based on book sales. But not today. To work successfully with a PR expert or publicist, here’s some important keys:
In one chapter of the fascinating new book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet – “Jesus: A Theography,” they raise some interesting points concerning Jesus’ audience. Even though He engaged the Rabbis on a regular basis, they make it clear His main audience wasn’t religious leaders. He wasn’t trying to persuade or convert the Jewish establishment because they didn’t respect his credentials or authority. Jesus focused on the common people. That’s why he spent so much time in villages, rather than the major towns of the region. In fact, Viola and Sweet point out that
People come to share their “big idea” with me all the time. They’re excited, pumped, and can’t wait to tell me their great idea for a movie, a nonprofit organization, a book, a new product, or company. The problem is, it takes forever. Try as they might, they just can’t explain their big idea in a short, simple conversation. For some reason they feel obligated to tell me the history, the background, the competition, the mistakes, the failed tries, the alternatives, what other people think, and
A couple of years ago, John UpChurch, at More Novel by the Week did a short interview with me on my writing habits. For those of you struggling to get a script, book, or other writing project done, it might give you some good ideas. I’d love to know what you think. Here’s the interview.