Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writing Tip from Don Miller

I love Don Miller. He's the author of Blue Like Jazz - one of my favorite books. Lately, he's been posting a lot of tips for writers on his blog, and I wanted to share this one.

How Stuff Gets Created | Donald Miller's Blog: "How Stuff Gets Created

I’m learning the fruit of my creative effort often ripens instantly. I’ll sit down and get thousands of words, but then a week later, working with the same discipline, will have nothing. But my job is not to make the words come. Who am I to make the words come? My job is no different than a farmer. I till the land. I fertilize the soil. I plant the seeds. Unlike the farmer, though, I am surprised when the green shoots sprout in the spring. I think perhaps it is magic, and it will never happen for me again. But the farmer knows if he tills the land, and is blessed enough to get rain, the harvest will come."

All writers get writer's block. It's inevitable. You sit down at a computer or your desk, switch on your laptop or grab a pen and...nothing.

I remember while writing my thesis that I had a two-week period where I literally couldn't write anything. Nothing happened when I sat down. It was as if my brain was locked in a bottle with all the creative juices stopped up.

It's really hard for me to break through times like that. Most often, I have to admit that I just give up and go watch a movie, read a book, or go for a run.

Don's words are an encouragement to writers everywhere. It's okay to struggle, as long as you keep on struggling. Push forward, plant the seeds, then see what happens months -- or years -- down the road.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Saving Takes Time and Discipline - Room for Debate -

Read this today in the NY Times Opinion Section...

Saving Takes Time and Discipline - Room for Debate -

"Shedding debt is a lot like shedding pounds. It involves slow, steady, disciplined effort before it yields substantial results. It means passing up short-term pleasures for longer-term gains. And getting rid of debt, like getting rid of extra weight, is a do-it-yourself activity for most people. Nonetheless, American’s efforts to reduce debt, like the efforts to reduce obesity, need not be exclusively do-it-yourself."

In her editorial, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, equates paying down debt with saving. And I think she's right. You can't really start building a strong nest egg if you're being dragged down by debt. Credit card bills, school loans, car payments, mortages--all that draws you down. But if you look at paying them off as making an investment in the future, you're off to a good start.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Sonja and I want to build our savings, but we're also faced with the challenge of paying off our debts. We're much better off (in terms of debt) than the average American, but it's still a hill to climb. Instead of thinking every dollar we put towards paying down debt as a dollar not saved, we should probably look at it as a key component of our overall savings plan.

(Okay, I realize this is probably the most boring post I've ever written... but I found the editorial helpful in putting a new perspective on things. If you're in the same boat, I hope you glean something from it as well).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The New Laziness

I read Seth Godin's blog (just like a bazillion other people do). He had another stellar post this morning on the New Laziness:

But the new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor.
He's spot on. People -- myself included -- operate out of fear of failure, that they don't know what they're doing, or that they might be rocking the boat. That's laziness.

Proverbs 13:4 says, "Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.

Don't be afraid of a little hard work!

(Do yourself a favor, and if you don't subscribe to Seth's feed, do it!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheering a Winless Team

I love sports. And I love rooting for my teams.

Sadly, this year I've divorced myself from all emotions when it comes to my love of the Buffalo Bills. I've done it for psychological reasons. The Bills are too terrible to care about. I'd only be causing myself emotional pain, stress, and angst if I cared about them this year.

Gregg Easterbrook, the TMQ of ESPN, wrote this in his weekly NFL column:

Sour Play of the Week: Reaching overtime for the second consecutive week, the Buffalo Bills, the NFL's sole winless team, faced fourth-and-7 on the Kansas City 40. Should Buffalo attempt a 57-yard field goal by Rian Lindell, one of the league's best place-kickers? Jacksonville won a game last month on a 59-yard field goal. Or should Buffalo go for the first down? Wait -- the league's only winless team cannot be punting in opposition territory in overtime! Boom went the punt, and it took Kansas City just two snaps to pass the point where the ball would have been had Buffalo gone for it and failed. Earlier in the contest, the league's only winless team punted on fourth-and-inches.

Buffalo has not reached the postseason in 11 years, and in that time had a succession of headmasters -- Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron -- who coached as though terrified of their own shadows. TMQ started the Preposterous Punts item after Williams, with the Bills trailing in the second half, ordered a punt on fourth-and-2 from the New England 32. Now Chan Gailey is coaching afraid, too, and you can't reverse years of losing psychology by running scared. In Buffalo's preseason opener, Gailey's first game wearing a Bills headset, Buffalo was down 21-3 and facing fourth-and-inches at midfield: Gailey sent in the punt unit. Sure, that was just a preseason game. But the message to players was "nothing has changed; we expect to lose just like last year and the year before that." And so far, Gailey is coaching as though he expects to lose.
I watched the game, too. And when I saw the punt team coming onto the field at the moment Easterbrook described, I forgot I didn't care about the Bills this year. I screamed my head off at the coach, "You haven't won a game! Why are you punting?! You don't deserve to win!"

Then I remembered that I don't care. I wasn't even upset when CBS stopped showing the overtime footage at 4:15 to "stay in accordance with NFL regulation." And I managed not to punch anything when the word came down that the Chiefs had gone on to win the game.

I don't care about the Bills this year. They haven't done anything to make me care again.

How many days until the draft?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Your Moment Of Auto-Erotica: "Oh, How He Tempted Her."

Via and including the most amazing photo/caption combination I've ever seen (well this week, at least). Click through for the image...

Your Moment Of Auto-Erotica: "Oh, How He Tempted Her.":
We recently discovered—but then forget—the incredible phenomenon of NASCAR-themed romance fiction, stories filled with passion and grease and beautiful people being driven swiftly to ecstasy and Victory Lane alike. What follows is a brief selection from one such tale.

From Shades of Love, by Dorien Kelly & Barbara Dunlop:

"When was the last time she had kissed a man with more than just a quick, casual brush of the lips? Claire knew the answer to that question the instant Derek's mouth settled against hers: it had been far too long. She had nearly forgotten the pleasure of having someone so close, of learning someone new."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Do This One Thing and You’ll Rise Above Your Peers | Donald Miller's Blog

Do This One Thing and You’ll Rise Above Your Peers | Donald Miller's Blog

I believe this is true, but I don't want to:

"That said, though, if it’s true leaders are readers, than it’s easier than ever to be a leader. In fact, if you’ll commit to reading a single book, you’ll be, approximately, in the top 50% of all Americans. I’m not kidding. If you’ll read just one more book before you die, you’ll leave half the people around you in the dust.

According to Para Publishing, 1/3 of high school graduates never read another bookfor the rest of their lives. And 42% of college graduates follow suit. 70% of U.S. adults have not stepped into a bookstore in the last 7 years and 80% of American families did not purchase or read a book last year."

That's some rough news. However, Don Miller is totally right... if you're a reader, you'll become a leader. Everyone's looking for the secret to getting ahead, but it could be just as simple as opening up a book, propping up your feet, possibly pouring a class of wine (or scotch), and digging into the thoughts of someone smarter than you.

Couldn't hurt, right?