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).