Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category


10 Best Places for Writing

August 20, 2011

In addition to being a counselor, public speaker and pastor, I also get paid occasionally to write. I choose not to write in my office and there has been too much hustle and bustle this summer to write at home (no offense to my family: it is what it is).

So I have become very creative in finding niche places to write. As with all my lists, these are not rated in any particular order. Here, then, are my favorite places to write these days.

1. The public library quiet rooms. Usually Internet access is available for free and the Quiet rooms are usually quiet (compared with the rest of the library).

2. Starbucks: Sometimes I need to combine people-watching with writing. By so doing, I ground my writing in the arena of the personal which make the writing poignant and accessible.

3. Airports: I did a lot of travel this year. Pick a gate where no planes are leaving  for several hours. This will be empty and once again, there is usually free Internet.

4. Barnes and Noble coffee shop: As with most places, if you go in the early afternoon, the crowds are gone. I have a Nook, so I can access books for free for one hour while in B. and N.

5. Backyard patio: Even in sweltering Sacramento, it is cool enough to write in the evenings out on my patio. My wireless network reaches out there as well.

6. Rented Hotel Room: Twice a year, I rent a hotel room someplace cool and write for three or four days straight. Go on Travelocity or another travel site and look at pictures of their rooms. Note the chairs and tables, not the bed. When you get there, disconnect the television from the wall, or take the batteries out of the remote and throw them away. That at least hinders the desire to waste time watching television.

7. Sandwich shops: The quainter the better. If you order food, they will let you work there for hours. Be cognizant that they open their doors to you in order to make a living. If you are there all day, keep buying stuff.

8. McDonalds: Yes, the Golden Arches do have several things going for them. Cheap menu, free wifi and comfortable seats. Also, if you get a booth, you can spread your stuff out. In order to avoid too many distractions, stay far away from the ball rooms.

9. University library study rooms: Even though I have not been a student for many years, you don’t have to show I.D. to get in. Usually the architecture is amazing and will inspire your creative muse.

10. Hospital waiting rooms: As a pastor, I am often called to visit people in hospitals. Most often, (with the exception of the Emergency room) they have free wifi and quiet spots to write. This will not occur to most people, but you learn a lot about the human condition in a hospital.


How to Read a Christian Book

May 31, 2011

Years ago, I read the biography of David Brainerd. Brainerd was the son-in-law of Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher of the Awakening and President of Princeton University. Brainerd was also a missionary to the native peoples of the Northeast and was a prodigious prayer-warrior. He mentions in his journals that he would rise at 4:30 most days and pray until noon . As I read this, I was struck with my own prayer-less life. So I devoted myself to begin rising at 5 a.m. to pray.

I distinctly remember the first time I did this. I answered the call of the alarm eagerly, bringing my list of prayer items to the place where I would pray. My wife rolled over and went back to sleep and I felt a certain sense of accomplishment having arisen to pray as she slept. Okay, there was a degree of pride there as well. I went into the room I had set aside as a prayer space (it was our storage closet. Since we had only been married for seven months, we didn’t have a lot of stuff to store). At 5:05 I started to pray Read the rest of this entry ?


My 10 Favorite Pieces of Writing Advice

November 23, 2010

In no order whatsoever (that I can discern), here are the ten best pieces of advice I have ever received on writing.

1. A good writer uses verbs and nouns, and makes use of adjectives and adverbs only when necessary.

2. Honest writers admit they want others to read their writing. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves and is probably on some sort of medication.

3. If you can make a sentence (paragraph, chapter, book) shorter, and still say what is necessary, you should.

4. No one starts writing with their own style. Therefore, start writing by copying the style of those you admire most and avoid the style of those you admire not at all.

5. All good writers are good readers. Not all good readers are writers. If you can find out why one is true and not the other, you may be a good writer.

6. Never edit your writing until the first draft is done. Then, edit that draft until it allows no more editing.

7. Always write in the active voice.

8. Learn the rules of grammar, syntax and punctuation so you will know the perfect moment to break them.

9. There is no true work of fiction. Every novelist and short-story writer has some truth in every character, setting and plot device. Conversely, there is no true story either. We each store memories with our own bias, unable to see around us accurately, oblivious to that which others see.

10. The only way to produce good writing is to write a lot of mediocre material and learn how to make some of it good.

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