10 rules of writing from Elmore Leonard

If you’re creating something new you are most likely writing – a lot. And so it behooves us all to continue to hone our skills as writers.

Back in the day I read lots of books by Elmore Leonard. He wrote hardboiled crime thrillers like Get Shorty, Rum Punch and Maximum Bob and. His books are always entertaining and funny. His writing is sparse and lean, taking his cue from Hemingway no doubt. 

Leonard’s novels sold well and he had a loyal fan base. As a result, he was sought after as a writing teacher. Keep in mind, Leonard was writing fiction. But I think some of his rules will work whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, blogging or tweeting.

Here’s some of his lessons that you can incorporate into your writing practice.

  1. Write the first draft by hand. In fact, Leonard wrote all of his books longhand.
  2. Write early in the morning before the day begins to infiltrate your thoughts. (Leonard wouldn’t even have his coffee until he finished 2 pages.
  3. Know what you want to say before you start writing.
  4. Don’t outline. (This was Leonard’s advice for the 1st draft of a work of fiction.) His point was for writers to find the story/idea as they wrote.)
  5. The first draft isn’t real. Nobody care so do anything you want. The point of the first draft is to get it written.
  6. Readers no longer like to read big blocks of text.
  7. Writing is a process. It’s a practice of putting one word down after the other. It’s like building a wall, one brick at a time.
  8. You MUST NOT wait for inspiration to write.  You will never write anything if this is the case.
  9. Tell a story. This is the first rule of writing.
  10. Fill a quota each day. Whether it’s the number of words or pages, you must have a quota.

And don’t forget to read some of his books.

Happy writing.

managing projects? Maintain horizontal and vertical actions with this matrix

If you’re starting new things, chances are, you’re managing a ton of difference projects at the same time. Your intentions to mange your actions around these projects are good.

You just get stuck with all of the details.

This where a matrix can help. In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen recommends you maintain coherence across all the activities in which you’re involved.

I developed the HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL ACTIONS MANAGEMENT matrix to maintain this coherence.

Feel free to use this to design your own.

20 rules of email that will make all of our lives better

On the average day I read and respond to approximately 75 emails. This does not include junk or spam. I refer to emails that are directly relevant to my work. These are messages I must respond to in some way. Most days it seems my life is all about getting to my emails.

While I’ve tried to use other platforms for team communications and projects, the default seems to be emails. It seems that we are so accustomed to emails that there is no going back. Therefore, I am capitulating. Email is here to stay. 

The problem is that it’s like the Wild West out there. I am convinced that if we all followed some simple rules it would make reading and responding to emails easier and dare I say, more pleasurable. Here they are… Continue reading “20 rules of email that will make all of our lives better”

10 priorities for every church planter

There are literally hundreds of things you must do before launch and if you’re not careful you will major in the minors. You must prioritize if you’re going to plant a reproducing church.

I have the privilege of taking to lots of planters around the world. I have helped plant churches. While the to-do lists vary, I believe there are 10 priorities of the planter during the pre-launch phase.

  1. Network! Meet with as many NEW people as possible. I once met a church planter who resolved to meet 1000 people BEFORE he planted.
  2. Build teams and give them real opportunity to get in the game.
  3. Plan as many reach out activities as you possibly can. Getting your teams into the community will pay BIG relational dividends.
  4. Delegate! This doesn’t mean you become a slacker. It simply means you empower others on your team to help carry the load.
  5. Never ever do anything alone. You should be apprenticing people; modeling it. This means you should plant with a leadership resident (church planter apprentice) as well!
  6. Pray. Pray. Pray. Ask others to pray with you and for you.
  7. Find a space and get the word out about it.
  8. Raise enough money. This means you must write a budget that is realistic.
  9. Develop your staff team. Pour into them as much as you can. They will be the key players.
  10. Sabbath

If you prioritize these things you will have a good change of launching a sustainable (and reproducing) church.

It comes down to execution

It all comes down to execution.

We can have the best plans.

The best intentions.

The finest work space or buildings.

The best team.

Best visionary oration.

Take all the time in the world to schedule and scope it all out.

But if we don’t execute, we have nothing.

You know this though.

But it’s also true.

So whatever it is your planning and dreaming about, we’re excited to see it (or buy it or read it etc.)

So maybe you’re getting to work now?