Books that changed my life: Having To Say Something Vs Having Something To say

This is a post on a topic that I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about of late but it is something that I have been pondering on a lot recently.

The question of creativity. The dreaded blank page.  Where to start. You’ve been there I know you have. I found a great book that has helped me immeasurably with this and I want to share some of what I’ve found in it with you.

The book is called “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young Ideas

Essentially there is one key aspect of James’s technique that has changed everything about how I look at creating.

If you are like me you are a procrastinator. You know the work you have to do but somehow you can’t bring yourself to actually sit down to do it.

It’s the age old question for anyone who has some sort of work to do. Do you..

Have to say something? Or..

Have something to say? (Thanks Rob Bell)

Is the task you face having to sit down and come up with a great inspiring blog post everyday, or writing a paper, or coming up with a book idea or having to think of a new sermon series because it’s due in a few days?
Or…. is the task you have, being so excited by an idea or a thought, by something that you noticed on a walk or something you read in a magazine or a sign you saw on your drive home that caught your attention or a picture that made you think about ‘that’ in a different light, or a story about someone giving their life for someone else which opened your eyes to a new way of thinking about generosity and what that means for your marriage, or a word which when you had the original meaning explained to you made you sit up and realize there was a whole new meaning to ‘this’?

So you made a note of it, or took a picture, or created a folder, or memorized it, or held it, or picked it up, or took it home and placed it on your mantlepiece.

Then after a while you began to discover how a few of these things that seemingly had no connection came together in a way that you couldn’t see coming. This connects with that, and that can be illustrated perfectly by that postcard you saw in the shop.

So when you go to sit down you’re not staring at a blank screen but bringing all these connections and ideas to the table, ready to surprise and delight us.

Are we hoping that inspiration strikes us every morning when we sit down to work or do we have an openness to the world where we are constantly being alert to those ideas or images or words that make us think, “that’s interesting”.

Maybe we use it or maybe we don’t. That doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it was enough in that moment to be of interest.

Editing comes later. Being aware and collecting begins now.

So that when the time comes to do the work, we’re ready.

So when we sit down to work, our blank white screen is already full of color.

You’re going to fail.

The bigger your audience becomes or the more comments your received on your last post or the more retweets your tweets got, the more people will disagree with you.

You’ll get more haters too and people who never seemed interested in your work before will come out of the woodwork and tell you every single thing you are doing wrong. They’ll probably not be very nice about it either.

You have two choices as I see it.  Continue reading

The Day I took part in the Hunger Games.

Imagine the scene. 100 or more 8 to 10 year old kids seated around a large room on the floor. In the middle of the room sits a piano with the scariest teacher in the school peering over his music. One by one pupils get up from around the room and walk what feels like a never-ending path to the middle of the room. All eyes are on the person in the middle. They stand there isolated, in front of all their peers and sing in a room where the only noise is the nervous rustling of other people but predominantly just their trembling nervous voice and a quiet piano. The teacher dismisses each pupil some without even letting them finish or looking up from his piano. Everyone can tell who has made the school choir cut and who is out.

Continue reading

Oversimplifying sin. Or why sin is not what you think.

A couple of days I wrote a blog that kind of went crazy. In it I questioned the manner that John Piper spoke about porn in a sermon.

Needless to say I got a lot of flack from some people. Yet I also received a lot of comments from people who had been hurt by similar styles of talking about sin in Church. I didn’t write it for John Piper fans. I wrote it for those very people whose voice has been lost because the church has piled on more and more shame.

Reading and responding to the comments it became quickly apparent that this had become something bigger than just about a view of porn addiction. Continue reading