Tag Archives: Tips

4 Ways to Become a Better Writer (Pt. 3)

So you want to be a better writer? Maybe its for a blog, maybe its for your creative fiction, or maybe its just for essays assigned to you at school. Either way, over the next few days I will be giving you 4 Tips that will help you become a better writer.

A few days ago I gave you Tip #1 and Tip #2. Here is Tip #3:

3. Recognize that You Probably Don’t Know What You Think Until You Write It Out

Some people won’t write until they first know what they think about a subject. But good writers write in order to find out what they think. Here are a few examples:

Calvin, citing Augustine: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

Ed Welch: “I find that there are three levels of clarity. When I only think about something, my thoughts are embryonic and muddled. When I speak about it, my thoughts become clearer, though not always. When I write about it, I jump to a new level of clarity.”

John Piper: “Writing became the lever of my thinking and the outlet of my feelings. If I didn’t pull the lever, the wheel of thinking did not turn. It jerked and squeaked and halted. But once a pen was in hand, or a keyboard, the fog began to clear and the wheel of thought began to spin with clarity and insight.”

Arthur Krystal: “Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me. Nor am I the first to have this thought, which, naturally, occurred to me while composing. According to Edgar Allan Poe, writing in Graham’s Magazine, ‘Some Frenchman—possibly Montaigne—says: ‘People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.’ I can’t find these words in my copy of Montaigne, but I agree with the thought, whoever might have formed it. And it’s not because writing helps me to organize my ideas or reveals how I feel about something, but because it actually creates thought or, at least supplies a Petri dish for its genesis.”

Via Justin Taylor

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4 Ways to Become a Better Writer (Pt. 2)

So you want to be a better writer? Maybe its for a blog, maybe its for your creative fiction, or maybe its just for essays assigned to you at school. Either way, over the next few days I will be giving you 4 Tips that will help you become a better writer.

A few days ago I gave you Tip #1 here is Tip #2:

2. Slow Down and Ask Questions When You Read

Joseph Epstein:

Most people ask three questions of what they read:

(1) What is being said?

(2) Does it interest me?

(3) Is it well constructed?

Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them:

(4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And

(5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing?

This can slow things down a good bit.

via Justin Taylor.

4 Ways to Become a Better Writer (Pt. 1)

So you want to be a better writer? Maybe its for a blog, maybe its for your creative fiction, or maybe its just for essays assigned to you at school. Either way, over the next few days I will be giving you 4 Tips that will help you become a better writer. Here’s Tip #1:

1. Read a Lot

Stephen King:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. . . .

It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but didn’t have time to read, I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

via Justin Taylor

Book Review – The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell

Last year our church transitioned from having a “children’s ministry” department and a “student ministry” department to having a “family ministry” model. Instead of seeing these two stages of life as two-clear-distinct-separated stages we came to the realization that we can minister more holistically to parents and their children with the understanding that the development of a child’s faith is a process that really begins at birth and continues on even into the college years. In the process of transitioning into a “family ministry” model we have sought to discover ways that we can help parents cultivate environments and experiences that can help their children’s faith flourish – because the truth is parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care, its easier to outsource that to the kids ministry pastor, small group leader, or youth pastor.

Parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care.

As we have been trying to figure out how to practically help these parents we have been scouring all sorts of resources that we can use to create resources for parents – that is when I came across The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell….

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family is an easily readable, easily accessible, and entertaining collection of “Sticky Faith” research findings partnered alongside of “Sticky Ideas.” Youth pastors know that the Sticky Faith team is at the forefront of youth culture research, so you know that the findings you are reading in this book are very well researched and are the latest-greatest thing. Youth pastors also know that the Sticky Faith team isn’t simply a group of theoreticians, the Sticky Faith team is a team run by practitioners, so you know that the practical advice offered in this book is tested and tried.

Pro’s

  • The Sticky Ideas Seep Into Every Area of Life – Its easy to think of a child’s spiritual formation as simply something that happens on Sunday’s or Wednesday nights at church or possibly around the dinner table at home, but Powell does a good job pointing out that faith develops at home, on vacation, in community, in our mistakes, in our transitions, and even in our times of service. Basically if you are looking for “sticky faith ideas” to start applying to many areas of life, you will find them here.
  • It is Super Practical – The cover of the book states that there are “over 100 practical and tested ideas to build lasting faith in kids.” 100 ideas! Trying to implement 100 new practices in your family can seem overwhelming if not impossible. However Powell is pretty clear on the fact that parents can’t implement all 100 ideas, they probably can’t even implement 10 ideas really well! She recommends that you aim for 5, 3 or just even 1 idea before you start to implement new ideas.
  • The Chapter on Transitions – Transitions between elementary to jr. high to high school to college can be some of the most difficult seasons in a child’s life and even in a parent’s life. But one thing that is often underestimated is how difficult those transitions can be for youth pastors. As somebody who had the difficult task of helping high school students transition into our college ministry I certainly appreciate any help I can get. Powell provides plenty of practical advice for making that transition. She also provides (in the appendix) an overview of the College Transition Project – within this appendix she provides research criteria for “vibrant faith.” College ministers will definitely appreciate this criteria, not as a fool proof list of things to judge one’s student’s faith but as a helpful guide to evaluating where your students might be at.

I highly recommend this book – and that isn’t just me saying that – I actually liked this book so much that I gave it to our family ministry’s pastor as a possible resource for equipping parents to instill vibrant faith into their student’s lives.

(Note: I received this book courtesy of Zondervan in exchange for an impartial review.)