Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Write to Retain

If I didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.

That’s a quote from Cathy Ryan, a character in Tom Clancy’s thriller series of books. Almost a toss away line at the time, it turns out to be a major turning point of the whole book. It’s also a guide that I have adapted and modified for my own use.

When I am reading (see yesterday’s post), I often take notes of the highlights of the book or magazine article or page view. I have found that the act of writing down key points helps lock them away in my memory. I may not be able to remember all of the point, but it helps to recall just enough to look it up later.

I “write” in several ways:
  • For several key themes that I follow, I have a separate journal for each one, allowing an ongoing concentration of knowledge on that subject
  • I also keep a notebook with me when I travel, jotting down quotes, book titles, or observations for later follow-up
  • For business purposes, there are major themes that I am continually gathering information about. I document these electronically, and use them to develop white papers, presentations, or “leave behinds” for clients
  • I blog daily here, and weekly for Church Solutions magazine. This has been an important part of my development process, so I want to spend some more time on blogging.

My entry into the blogging world came last year, at the encouragement of Church Solutions editor Karen Butler. Her magazine and the National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB) are partners in the Church Solutions Conference and Expo as well as several other events. During one of those events, the Certified Church Consultant training course, I was speaking on the subject of reading and journaling, and she suggested that I move to the next natural step in that progression, blogging.

I certainly don’t consider myself knowledgeable in this area, so I turn to someone who is: Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and a prominent voice in the church blogging world. Here are some key points he made recently about blogging; to read his blog, go here.

Blogging came pretty naturally to me because I've always kept a journal. But over the years I've learned a few do's and don'ts. Here are ten of them. I view them as my personal guidelines for blogging.

1) Stay Positive-Life is too short and the Kingdom Cause is too important for the sideways energy of negativity!

2) Include Hyperlinks-It brings people together in amazing ways.

3) Keep it Short and Sweet-It's a blog not a book!

4) Don't let commentors hijack your blog-I do think it's healthy to engage in respectful debate. But don't let it cross the line.

5) Tell Your Wife About It Before You Blog About It-If your family has to read your blog to know what is going on in your life something is wrong!

6) If You Wouldn't Say it to Their Face Don't Blog It-Again, I think we need civility and respect.

7) Know Your Audience-Would you blog if no one read it? I think that's a good litmus test. Obviously, if you are blogging you are doing it so people can read it. But I primarily blog for myself--it's my journal. It's the way I keep track of what God is doing in my life.

8) Be Yourself-A blog ought to be as unique as you are.

9) Find Your Rhythm-Part of blogging is finding a way for it to fit your lifestyle. I think it's critical that you be consistent.

10) Stay Positive-I know. I know. I listed it twice!

In addition to being a prolific blogger, Batterson also writes books – to the tune of one per year. Even though you and I may not write a book, I found Batterson’s thoughts on writing a book to be an appropriate close to today’s post:

Writing a book is baring your soul. You feel intellectually and spiritually vulnerable. Writing forces you to come to terms with who you are and who you aren't. Unfortunately, many authors hide behind their words. You don't feel like you know them any better at the end of the book than you did at the beginning. I try to write as if I'm having a conversation with someone over coffee. Keep it real. Keep it personal. Don't just share your thoughts. Share your life.

What are you writing?

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