Sometimes, though, both practices can lead writers down an egocentric path and lock us in a cell of indulgent isolation. Confined to our experiences, our insights, and our words, we’re tyrannized by Warden Self.
Time to break out.
Look around you. Your church and community need writers to tell their stories.
Inhale the exhilarating air of servant-hearted writing.
• Quick—list three local people who are devoted to ministry. Would one of them chat with you about their passion for 30 minutes? Probably. Give them a call or send them an e-mail. Set up an interview.
• Prepare ten questions that can’t be answered with yes or no: How did you get involved in this ministry? What excites you about it? What are its challenges? What are your goals?
• Take your laptop to the interview so you can record responses as rapidly as possible. Don’t worry about typos and sentence structure. Do confirm facts and quotes with the interviewee.
• After the interview, transform your notes into sentences and paragraphs. No need to organize. Not yet. Let those paragraphs marinate in your brain for at least 24 hours.
• The difficult part: Read through your paragraphs. In one sentence, summarize the primary point you want to make about the person and their passion. Next, answer this question: why should the reader care about this person and their passion? (That becomes the article’s takeaway.)
• The painful part: remove all information that doesn’t relate to the summary sentence and the takeaway. Reorganize paragraphs so the most interesting quote or most relevant nugget of information appears first. (That’s your lead/hook.) Whatever follows the lead should guide the reader to the takeaway.
• The excruciating part: Trim it to 400 words. That’s the average attention span of folks in our text-trained, tweet-brained twenty-first century society.
• Eureka! You’ve created an article that may interest a local newspaper editor. If not, see if the interviewee’s church or ministry could use it for their website or newsletter. At least post it on your blog.
• Congratulations. You’ve practiced the disciplines of consistent and concise writing. More importantly, you’ve crawled out of your writer’s cell and affirmed a fellow Christian’s ministry. Feeling refreshed? Like the air out here? Good. Call another person on your list.
Your assignment is to follow these steps this week. See what you can come up with.