On Listening to God

The TL;DR of this post is this: God still speaks. Period. End of story.

If you read nothing else here just know and understand that God has always been speaking, He is speaking today, and He will continue to speak tomorrow. We just have to have the ears to hear what He’s saying.


“Listen to God and do what He says.”

It is simple advice yet extremely hard to follow. Especially when you’re comfortable. Remember my blog post from a couple weeks ago? It’s when you’re most comfortable that God likes to come in and move you. But it starts with distinguishing His voice over the noise of the rest of the world and hearing what He has to say to you.

Have you ever prayed for something for months and felt like God never said anything back to you? It’s not that He’s not talking … we’re just not really listening.

There could be a number of different reasons for that.

  • We aren’t looking for anyone else’s opinion and we don’t care what anyone else thinks. We’ve already made up our mind about whatever it is so any other voices are drowned out … including God’s.
  • We could be panicking or overly emotional about the questions we’re asking and thus it makes it harder to hear because our emotions get in the way.
  • Maybe we’re just not listening in the right places. Our eyes and ears are expecting God to speak in one way and He is choosing to speak in a different way and we’re just missing it.

We learned this past week at church that God speaks in 4 main ways:

  • Scripture
  • The Holy Spirit
  • Other People
  • Circumstances

What was funny about this sermon to me (and by “funny” I totally mean “ironic”) is that God used circumstances (we went to church) so that other people (the speaker) could use scripture (he gave Bible verses) to speak directly to us through the Holy Spirit. God used all 4 of those ways in one message to prove to Heather and I that (1) He still speaks and (2) that what we thought He had been saying to us about a certain matter was true. He literally proved it to us.

God is funny like that.

“Oh you want proof? 💥 Here’s some proof”. 😂

Like we’re Gideon up in here looking for some dew on a piece of wool.

I’m not even sure we were really asking for proof to be honest. We’ve learned by this point in our lives to trust Him when we know He’s speaking. But you know how when you hear something you’re just sort of like “Well, maybe that’s just my voice and not God.” Like maybe it wasn’t God talking and instead you just wanted some lunch so you told yourself what you thought you wanted to hear because in reality you just wanted that turkey and cheese sandwich? Sometimes listening to God is like that. Was it really Him speaking or was it something else?

I think when He speaks through all 4 of those ways at one time and it all confirms what you’ve been hearing … there’s a good chance that what you were hearing was real and true.

If I’m honest, I’m not sure that I’m the best choice to be giving out advice on how to hear from God. But I don’t necessarily think that’s the point of this post. I would, however, say this:

Listen to your gut. If you know Jesus then the Holy Spirit is living inside you. It guides and counsels you. Don’t discount that intuition you feel. It’s there for a reason.

Next, get confirmation. Ask God to confirm what He said through another way (a friend, some scripture, dew on wool 😂, etc.). Ask a friend or spouse to pray about a situation and see what God tells them. Heather is always my filter for what I think I’m hearing. If I’m praying about a thing and I think I’ve heard something but want some confirmation to make sure, then I ask her to pray about it and see what God says. She’s much more holy and closer to God than I am and if what she hears lines up then I feel like I’m in the clear to go ahead.

Lastly, ask for open and closed doors. I do this all the time. When I’m facing a decision and I’m unsure which way to go, I’ll ask God to open the doors He wants open and close the doors He wants closed. This is especially helpful if I get too emotionally caught up in the decision and really want one answer to be the right one. I just ask God to make the decision for me. If the door is open I go through it and I don’t if it’s not. Once I go through one door then it’s “Great, I went through this one door. What about this next one? Which way should I go?”

Here’s the important part about all of this: God says that His sheep hear His voice. He is always speaking. Just be still and listen.

A Small Story Is No Story at All

The world, the flesh, and the evil one tempt us to settle for the smaller story: a narrow quest to arrange for the happy little life. Yet something deeper in us knows that a life arranged only for a sense of comfort, security, and personal happiness is far too small to hold the expanse for which the masculine soul was designed to thrive.

Morgan Snyder, Becoming a King

Great stories involve action. There are epic battles, intrigue, and a fight between good and evil. Lives are put on the line in an effort to reach the goal, save the world, and set the captives free.

Stop for a second and take a look at your life. Are you living a great story? Or have you arranged “for the happy little life” Morgan talked about above?

Let me ask it a different way. If your life was made into a movie, would anyone come and watch it?

If I’m completely honest, I wouldn’t go watch the movie of my life. I’m not a very interesting character. I live what amounts to a pretty regular, comfortable life.

For the most part I’m okay with that. I live my life by a set of processes that I am comfortable with. I don’t get out of my comfort zone too much. I’m fairly content with where I am right now.

And therein lies the problem.

There is no growth in contentment

The thing with being comfortable or content is that nothing happens. Which, at the end of the day, is what you’re going for. There are no surprises. There is no learning or growth. Nothing catches you off guard. You’ve got it all planned out and everything is going according to plan.

Happy and content to stay where you are there is nothing to push you to get better. There is nothing motivating you to advance your life past where you are right now.

But here’s the crux: there is no growth in contentment; no advancement in satisfaction.

The sooner we realize that there is no top level in the game of life the better off we’ll be. There is no such thing as “arriving.” There is always another level, another thing to learn, or another way to grow. You will never know all there is to know and you will never reach the top of anything. There is always someone bigger, better, or stronger than you.

Your life wants to plateau

In exercise, people talk a lot about hitting a plateau. That point where your body just stops reacting to what you’re doing. It seems that no matter how hard you work or what kind of diet you are on, nothing changes.

When you hit this point you have a couple of choices. You can continue to do what you’ve always done … what’s comfortable … and live with the realization that nothing will change. Or … you can change things up. You can do something different. Try a different exercise program. Change up your diet. Even something as simple as just increasing your weights in the gym. When you do this your body notices that something is different and has to react. That’s when you bust through that plateau and continue on your journey.

The trick is that you have to be willing to be uncomfortable to grow. You have to be willing to tear your muscles in order for them to get bigger. You have to be willing to run faster, further, or harder than you’ve run before to see a different result. It hurts. It’s not much fun. But no growth ever is.

Searching for stasis

You see, your life (like your body) is constantly is search of stasis. It wants a happy place where it knows what is going to happen and can handle the things that are coming. Your life, if left to its own devices, wants to plateau.

It wants comfort. It wants contentment. It wants stability.

But stability, in the end, means death.

You’ve probably heard stories of men and women that die soon after they retire. What happened? Why did they die so soon? I believe it’s because they’ve done all they are going to do. They don’t have anything else to push them forward or to continue to advance their life. They’ve decided that their life has hit the final plateau.

When water in a creek stops moving, it becomes stagnant. As we all know, it doesn’t take long for stagnant water to stink with rot. That’s what happens to our lives when we decide that living the small, unchanging, comfortable life is the best choice for us. When you are happy and content in your own little world you’ve already died even if your body hasn’t gone yet. No matter how many years you live on this earth, once you’ve reached the point where you’re comfortable and you aren’t willing to change things, you’ve already died.

A comfortable life is no life at all.

Sometimes God likes to shake things up

One thing I’ve learned about being comfortable is that just when you think “comfortable” is where you want to be and where you’ll stay, God does something that shakes all that up. He removes your comfort for your own good. He purposefully thwarts your plans for your continued growth.

A comfortable life is a life ripe for God to come in and say “Nope. We’re not doing this. Let’s keep moving. Here’s your next mission, should you choose to accept it.”

Usually that prompting comes in the form of some kind of pain, right? He’s got to get you uncomfortable if you are to move. Pain, if we’re honest, is usually the greatest motivator for us to change. When you’re comfortable there is no pain. It’s only when the pain becomes great enough for us to do something about it that we decide it’s time to move.

So maybe He ramps up the pain in order to get you to change, move, and grow. The thing about listening to God and doing what He says is that on the other side of that obedience, that moving, there is usually blessing. God blesses you when you obey.

Change is hard and often it feels like pain. But perhaps on the other side of that pain there is a blessing waiting for you. The trick is that it takes moving, going through the pain, in order to experience that blessing.

Lack of Dependence

Living a life that’s comfortable also means that you pretty much don’t have to depend on God at all. You can do everything you want or need to do under your own power.

I firmly believe that sometimes (most of the time probably) God wants you to depend on Him. He is your provider. He is your shield. He is your strength and life.

A life that’s comfortable is a life that doesn’t need a provider because you can provide for yourself. A life that’s comfortable is a life that doesn’t need a shield because you can protect yourself.

A comfortable life is a safe life and a safe life is really no life at all.

Where’s the adventure? Where’s the struggle? You can’t experience great wins without struggle.

There is the quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt that you’ve all probably read before but that fits aptly right here:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

A comfortable life is a life that led by “cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

God knows that a comfortable life isn’t the life He meant for you. He didn’t mean for you to live a small story. He has plans for you and they don’t involve sitting in front of the TV every night.

No, you have a role in a much larger story. Perhaps you’ve lost sight of just how big the story God is telling is, and the purpose of your role in that story. Look around you. No seriously. Stop and take a look.

This whole thing is so much bigger than we think it is and your role in it is much more important than you could ever imagine.

“God knows the danger of ignoring our hearts, and so he reawakens desire. You see a photo in a magazine, and pause, and sigh. You see someone with a life that reminds you of the life you once thought you would live. You’re channel surfing one night and see someone doing the very thing you always dreamed you would do—the runner breaking the tape, the woman enjoying herself immensely as she teaches her cooking class. Sometimes all it takes is seeing someone enjoying themselves doing anything, and your heart says, I want that too.

God does this for our own good. He does it to reawaken desire, to stir our hearts up from the depths we sent them to. He does it so that we don’t continue to kill our hearts and so that we don’t fall prey to some substitute that looks like life but will become an addiction in short order.

He sometimes does it so that we will seek the life we were meant to seek. Isn’t this just what happens to the prodigal? He wakes one day to say, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” (Luke 15:17). “Look at their lives,” he says. And he is stirred to head for home. To seek life.”

John Eldredge, Walking with God

Never give up. Never stop exploring. Never stop moving forward. There is too much in this life that you will miss when you settle for comfortable and safe. Do something … anything … and get uncomfortable.

Some questions I’ve started asking myself and that I would challenge you with this week:

  • Where are you living in a small story?
  • Where are you comfortable?
  • What needs to change to shake that up?

First Thoughts on iOS 14

Do you remember when you got your first iPhone?

If you use Android, do you remember when you first heard about the iPhone?

I wanted an iPhone from the day they came out, but it wasn’t until Apple released the iPhone 3GS in 2009 that I finally got one.

I haven’t had a phone from another manufacturer since.

That first iPhone of mine was running the top-of-the-line, latest and greatest iPhone OS 3. The newest, biggest, most impressive features that year were copy & paste, push notifications for third-party apps, USB & Bluetooth tethering, a landscape keyboard, and Find My iPhone.

A lot has changed in the 11 years since then. Technology changes so quickly it’s hard to keep up some times, isn’t it? Now there is more technological advancement in the watch on your wrist than in the phone you had back then.

I’m thankful that technology continues to advance. Outside of job security for a developer like me, it means that the collective “we” continue to move forward. That we are still pushing boundaries. It means that someone, somewhere is still asking the question “What if?”

And that leads us to now.

On September 16th Apple released their latest iteration of the iPhone operating system … iOS 14.

I’ve had the opportunity over the past couple of months to run the beta of this new OS. Today I’d like to cover some of my initial impressions and my top new features in iOS 14. Here goes!

Initial Thoughts

My first thought is … I like it. But I think that’s only because I love new, shiny software.

I always get excited for new releases like this. The ability to do new things or to do the same things in different ways is interesting and keeps me engaged. There’s something about the new coat of paint that the upgrade process brings. Kind of like how New Year’s Day feels. It’s a chance to start over again.

iOS 14 comes with a slew of new upgrades and features. Things like:

  • A Translation app that will even speak for you.
  • AirPods Pro automatic device switching. Meaning that you can start watching a video on your computer, switch over to your phone and your AirPods will move right along with you.
  • Mentions and inline replies in group messages. How many times have you been having a group conversation and needed to respond to what someone said 8 messages ago? At that point your reply is all out of context. Not any more.
  • Cycling directions and electric vehicle routing. For those of you that bike a lot or need to follow the charging stations on your road trips.

Seriously, there are too many to list here. For a list of all the features I suggest you start here.

That being said I will be completely honest. While I like the upgrade, there isn’t a lot here for me in particular. For the way that I use my phone (the way I work, play, create, and consume) there aren’t a lot of things that make my life better. Even just looking at the new features I mentioned above:

  • I don’t travel much (in particular to foreign countries)
  • I don’t have very many group conversations
  • I don’t cycle to work
  • I don’t have an electric vehicle.

So while there are a ton of new things, there isn’t a lot that I need. It’s not bad, it’s just not really for me, you know?

My Top 3

That brings us to my top 3 new features. While I’m kind of bullish on the upgrade, there are a few things that I enjoy.

Picture in Picture

I really like Picture in Picture. It might be my new favorite feature. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t watch a lot of video on my phone, but when I do, having the ability to just move it off into a corner and continue to use another app while the video plays is awesome.

Pinned Conversations

The one is just a helpful tweak to the Messages app that I didn’t know I wanted until I had it. Keeping the conversations with my family members up at the top of my app right where I can get to them quickly has been super handy.

Widgets

I don’t know that I need these … but they are super convenient to have around. I personally like the Fitness one (keeping me up to date on the 3 rings on my watch), the weather one from Carrot Weather (I can’t go getting rained on, can I? Sugar melts, y’all. 😂), and one created by my friend Caleb Panza called TimeDeck … which literally just tells me what time it is. Not that I don’t know where the clock is at the top of my phone, but when I go to my home screen it’s right there for me in a way that is visually appealing and I don’t have to go searching for it.

The Bottom Tier

There are some things that aren’t that great about iOS 14. The one I dislike the most is the App Library. I just don’t see why it exists. I get the idea that it puts all of your apps into categories for you and should make it easier to find all your stuff. Theoretically. To me it’s just an extra screen at the back of your screens of apps that doesn’t need to be there. I don’t ever go there, so it’s not a big deal, but it literally serves no purpose for me. It doesn’t suit my workflow. It’s really just something I don’t need.

The End

And that’s it. Overall iOS 14 is a decent upgrade but in my opinion it’s not something I need. Obviously, I still think you should upgrade and make that judgement call for yourself.

If you happen to upgrade, let me know what you think!

A Seven-Week Cutting Program

I’m convinced that the nemesis to all of my fitness goals is the 8:00pm snack.

I mean it. If it wasn’t for that pesky time of day I swear I would be the fittest dude on the planet.

Well, maybe not the fittest dude on the whole planet but maybe the fittest dude in my house.

Okay, perhaps not the fittest dude in my house … but I know I’d be way more fit than I am now that’s for sure.

The thing is that 8:00pm is just far enough away from dinner to be hungry but not close enough to bedtime to just go to sleep. And it’s killing my results.

I love simple carbs

If that was a slogan on a bumper sticker I’d probably buy it and put it on my car. Mostly because it’s so true. I really do love simple carbs. Give me a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos, some Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, or some Peanut Butter M&M’s and I love you.

And what does one do when it’s 8:00pm at night and you’re hungry but you aren’t quite ready to go to bed yet?

You snack. Exactly right.

My snack of choice? Simple carbs. Every time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Side note: Don’t hate on the Flavor Blasted Goldfish crackers. Those are legit.

So what exactly is the problem?

The problem is that you can’t outwork a bad diet.

I’m working really hard to get in shape. If you’ve read my blog at all this year you’ve probably seen that I’m in what I’m dubbing my “Health Year.” I’m working super hard to just be healthy. Eating better, exercising regularly (I mean, like I’ve never exercised before), and just generally trying to be a healthier person in many aspects of my life.

Right now I am halfway through a custom workout program that I created out of two programs created by Beachbody. I took the 8-week LIIFT4 program and the 6-week 10 Rounds program and combined them together into one massive 14-week hybrid workout plan.

I’m not expecting massive weight loss results with this program and I don’t necessarily care what the scale says. The scale is a lag measure and can sometimes be a liar when it comes to how healthy you really are. But … I do expect to see some changes in the right direction on that scale over long periods of time. You know, like when you’re 7 weeks into a 14-week program. At this point I should be seeing the scale start to tip in the downward direction.

The problem is, I’m not. It’s gone down, and it’s gone back up again. It’s locked in a what feels like a life or death see-saw battle. In fact, as of my weigh-in this past Sunday, I am heavier than I was when I started the program. That’s not really where I want to be at this point.

And I 100% fully blame the 8:00pm snack.

What are you going to do about it?

Well, for starters, I’m going to cut out that 8:00pm snack.

You see, in this program I’m doing (in fact, in a lot of Beachbody’s programs) they suggest a couple of different meal plans, one of which they call the Ultimate Portion Fix. In that meal plan you eat according to a set of little buckets that are meant to help you determine portion sizes. Based on your weight, age, activity level and the like you get so many of these buckets per day. Once you’ve eaten all your buckets, you’re supposed to be done.

The problem I’m having is that I would eat all of my buckets for the day but then I would have my snack on top of my buckets. I’m not calculating the snack into the buckets. So I’m over-feeding myself.

See how that could be a problem?

My plan

So I’ve put together a strategy as I attempt to shed as much fat and grow as much muscle as possible over the next 7 weeks. This strategy involves two phases.

Phase One

First things first, I have to dump the 8:00pm snack. 😢

Sad, yes, but I have to do it if I want to see results.

Second, I’m going to stick exactly to my buckets. Everything I eat will get counted. If I go out to eat, that gets counted. If I eat with my team at work (like I did yesterday) that gets counted. If I eat a bowl of simple carbs (which I shouldn’t) that will also get counted.

Nothing goes into my mouth that doesn’t get counted and I don’t put anything into my mouth that would take me over my bucket count.

I started this phase this week (already with one slip up 🤷‍♂️) and will continue for a total of 4 weeks.

Phase Two

The last 3 weeks will consist of a slightly tweaked meal plan that Beachbody calls Countdown to Competition. Similar to what bodybuilders and fitness competitors would use to prepare for a show, this plan has you eating off of a lower carb, higher protein meal for 2 days and then back on your regular meal plan for 1 day.

My hope by doing this meal plan is that at the end of the program I will maximize my results and see the best version of my body on the other side.

What goes in the buckets?

For those of you interested in what my meal plan will most likely look like over the coming weeks, here is how I see most of my days playing out:

  • Meal 1: 2 eggs, 1 6-inch tortilla (sort of a egg quesadilla but with 1 tortilla) and 1 orange
  • Meal 2: Rice & taco meat
  • Meal 3: Small salad with ham or ground turkey or similar protein and some lite dressing.
  • Meal 4: Same as meal 3.
  • Meal 5: Tacos-ish. 2 6-inch tortillas or rice, taco meat, and cheese. Maybe another piece of fruit.
  • Meal 6: Chocolate Shakeology with peanut butter. Creamy because who wants chunks in their peanut butter?!?! 😂

Also, every week on Friday our family celebrates Shabbat. It’s a meal we share with our family that ushers us into the weekend and rest. For this meal we typically make homemade pizzas. I will eat my entire pizza without shame … because cheat meals are a thing. 🍕

It might be cliché to say it, but at the end of the day “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” I’ve been failing in this respect and it’s time I stepped up and did the hard work (like I’m doing in other places) to get the best results I can in the time I’ve got left in this program.

What about you? Where do you see yourself struggling? Can you name what it is that’s holding you back? What can you do to step up and do something about it?

Creating an Editorial Calendar

In last week’s post I made the case for an editorial calendar. In that post I told you that having an editorial calendar would help save us from the blank page (whatever the “blank page” is for you). I also told you that I didn’t currently have one. Which seems like a bad thing if I’m trying to make a case for it, right?

I thought it might be best if I took my own advice.

So I took some time this week to create an editorial calendar of my own and I thought that I would show you what it looks like. As a bonus, you’ll get a pretty accurate sneak peek into what I’ll be writing about over the coming weeks.

What exactly is an editorial calendar?

Now, before we get to the actual calendar I wanted to take a little time to explain what an editorial calendar is and how you can go about creating your own.

Wikipedia tells us a little about editorial calendars:

Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication.

Simply put, an editorial calendar is just a list of what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it by. Typically it’s used in publishing content (like this blog) but I don’t think you have to pigeonhole it to just publishing content. You could really use it for just about any creative endeavor you have.

In my case, I will use my editorial calendar in the traditional sense. It is just a simple list of what I’m going to write and when I will publish it. This should make writing easier for me because I’ll know from the very start the subject that I’ll be hitting on that week. Then it’s just a matter of sitting down and writing. No more “What am I going to write about this week?” The question has already been answered.

For you, this might not look like writing. For all you Comic-Con goers out there, this could be a list of which cosplay projects you want to create and when they need to be done by.

Or … maybe it’s a list of all the school projects that you have to do and when they are due. Like a master syllabus. It’s not as much fun but … getting it all out in a list might prove helpful for you.

How would I create one?

The editorial calendar itself doesn’t need to be complicated. Seriously, it could just be a list on paper that you put somewhere in front of you where you can see it. In fact, I’d almost suggest that you start out that way. In order to create your calendar you will obviously need to set aside some time to think through what you’re going to do, so maybe just take some notes on paper first. What you do with those notes then is up to you.

This can end up being as simple or as fancy as you would like it to be. Like I said, paper is one option but you should do whatever is going to work for you. You could use a note app on your phone or computer. You could make a spreadsheet and get super detailed with the columns, right? As a writer, you could include the article title, the date it’s due, a checkbox indicating whether or not you published it, a link to where that article lives, etc. If that’s what works for you, have at it.

Also feel the freedom to be as specific or non-specific as you wish. For the writers (or want-to-be writers) as you think through what you’re going to publish some of you might come up with article titles right away. Some of you will just have a general topic in mind. Others of you will only know that in this space for this week I know I want to write this type of article. And all of those are fine. Remember, this is for you, to help you write without the fear of a blank page. As you’ll see in my editorial calendar in a little bit, I have a little bit of all of those types of things. This allows me to focus in when I need to, and to allow God to do a little bit of whatever He wants to do when He wants to.

That brings up another point. This is your list based on what you think should go in those spaces. But leave room for God to do what He wants to do in your space. If you get to a week and you have a specific topic in mind (because you made a calendar 💥) but you feel like God wants you to write something else when you sit down to write then by all means write something else. This list isn’t written in stone. If it needs to change, feel free to change it.

At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you. If it’s simple, go with that. If it’s complex, that works too. I’d suggest you start out simple and work toward complex over time and only when you need it but … you do you.

For me, it’s just going to be a note in my notes app. That way it syncs to my phone and my computer and I can work on my writing no matter where I am.

My editorial calendar

So without further ado, starting with this post, here is my editorial calendar in all it’s glory:

  • 09.18: My Editorial Calendar
  • 09.25: A Seven Week Cutting Program
  • 10.02: First Thoughts on iOS 14
  • 10.09: A Small Story is No Story At All. Thoughts on being comfortable.
  • 10.16: Letting Go. What life has been like since my son started college.
  • 10.23: A devotional of some kind
  • 10.30: The Powder Mage Trilogy Book Series Review
  • 11.06: The Power of Habit and Routine
  • 11.13: Results from LIIFT 4 / 10 Rounds Hybrid

Like I said, it’s just a list and a due date. Nothing more. It’s subject to change on a whim. It’s gives me a base to work from and that’s what I need.

I can already tell the difference having this calendar is making. Just knowing that I was going to write about my editorial calendar this week made writing so much easier.

I also took my other piece of advice and have been writing every day this week. The consistent writing schedule along with the editorial calendar have given my writing new life. Here’s to continuing and refining this as the weeks go on.

The Cure for the Blank Page

A.K.A. The Case for an Editorial Calendar

I’ve struggled with what to write here lately.

I’m not sure if you can tell from my writing, but, full disclosure, I’ve been writing a lot of these blog posts on the day I publish them. Each piece gets written once and that’s about it. Sometimes a post will get a second look over as I’m publishing it to make sure that it all looks good on the screen but that’s about as far as it goes.

I apologize. It doesn’t make for very good writing. You deserve better than that.

I think there are 2 things that I’ve been missing lately which has caused this to happen.

A Time and Place

The first is a designated time and place for writing every day. I just don’t make the time on a regular basis to sit down and write. Doing all my writing on the day that the post needs to go up means that what you end up reading is a glorified first draft. And we all know that we’re supposed to write crappy first drafts and then make it better from there.

You shouldn’t be reading first drafts. You should be reading third or fourth drafts. Ideas that have been written about, and then written about again, and then clarified and written about again. The editing process is where the writing should come alive. You’ve just been getting the undead, zombie-like first draft version. The version that no one should ever read. Again, I apologize.

An Editorial Calendar

The second thing that I’ve been missing is an editorial calendar. This is something that tells me what to write about on any given week. It can be as simple as a list of topics and when they will get published. It doesn’t have to be hard to create or extremely detailed. It just takes setting aside a little time. When you’re done, you’ll be all prepped with ideas for what to write when you need them.

I feel like one of the problems I have is that when I sit down to write I don’t have much to say. Or maybe it’s too much to say. Without a plan, the whole world of options is available to me and it’s overwhelming. What’s the one thing that I want to pass along this week? Out of all the things I could write about, what is the one nugget of information that I feel like would be beneficial to write about for my readers this week? Picking out just one thing to pass along is hard so I tend to end up just staring at the blank screen not knowing where to start. The cursor taunting me as it blinks away. On, off, on, off. And since I’ve waited until the day the post is due I now have the anxiety and pressure of having to come up with something, anything, that might be even a little bit compelling.

An editorial calendar would solve all of that. Deciding ahead of time what I am going to write about every week means that I don’t have to think about it. There is no question what I will write about during my writing time on any given day. Since I already have a topic, all I have to do is to sit down and write.

This could work for you too. If you have a creative pursuit (hint: it doesn’t have to be writing) and you’re struggling with what to do at any given time, maybe try giving yourself a head start. Decide ahead of time what you will work on in your creative time. It may just be the boost you need to jump start your creative juices and save you from the dreaded “blank page” of your creative endeavor.

Also, if you’re struggling for ideas, check out this video by Sean McCabe: 5 Months of Content in 5 Minutes.