Learning to Write, part 1September 13, 2008
This blog has slowly gone quiet over the past few months. There is a certain rhythm to blogging that is hard to maintain unless you allow your commitment to your blog to supersede other priorities. The single thing I ever did to become good at blogging was committing to posting at least once a day. Like nearly anything else you want to master, daily effort is the key. I did it for years and truly loved the challenge of finding something to write about each and every day.
Writing hundreds of blog posts opened the door to an entirely different form of writing, a book. I knew when I signed the contract for The Blogging Church that writing tens of thousands of words on my blog did not truly prepare me for writing a book, and I was right. The book writing process was so different and much more challenging. I had to learn to think very differently about developing thoughts and arguments, being consistent in style but not repetitive in method, and keeping a reader entertained for more than five minutes at a time. I loved that year immensely, despite many late and somewhat miserable nights, and the feedback I've received from many of you has truly meant the world to me.
The first question after you write a book is, "What is your next book going to be about?" I actually think about that just about every day, but that's how my mind has always worked - brainstorming new ideas, thinking through the best ones, and then moving on. I have yet to find the perfect idea for another book, not because there is an absence of good choices, but because I'm impatient and restless, and highly resistant to repeating a formula.
And that's what a blog often becomes eventually: repetitive. Many times over the past year I've thought about writing a post and then realized that I had said much of it before, just in a different context. I'm not convinced that it's worth my time, or yours, to rehash those thoughts and arguments for whatever happens to be demanding our attention today. Similarly, I've stopped reading most of the top blogs for the same reason. After a few years, you begin to see the same ideas, the same patterns, the same arguments, repeated again and again. Life's too short.
Not long after the book was published, I left the church world to join a web start-up. I wanted to be challenged in new ways and to be exposed to new ideas. It's been an incredible, addictive experience so far, though it's certainly taken me far from my comfort zone. If I had stayed in the church web world, I might be speaking at some small church technology conferences, writing posts every day about the latest web tools and controversies, and working on "The Social Church: Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet Church". Many smart, talented people (and friends of mine) are wired up that way, but not me. I already did that once.
Over the past few months, I've been pouring all of my free time into learning to write in two new ways, code and fiction. I'll be writing about these more over the next two posts. No surprises, no big announcements, just the latest explorations of one of my favorite things in this world, writing.