If you write anything for a living, you know the pressure that comes with staring at a blank screen with a deadline approaching.
If you communicate within the context of the local church, like I do, you quickly discover that Sundays come around whether you’re ready or not.
I get asked regularly what I do to prepare for my messages, and there are a few things I practice and that I’ve seen other leaders do that I think can gain any communicator an edge.
They’re not talked about that often, but they work for me and for other communicators I admire. But even more than that, it took me years to get there.
Here’s to shortcuts. Five of them actually—for every communicator and writer.
1. Focus initially on the quality of your thinking instead of the quality of your writing.
So how do you get to a killer message, article or post? You think your way there before you write your way there.
Look, I admire great writers. They can make anything sound interesting, fun or even meaningful.
But I appreciate great thinking even more.
So will your audience.
A great idea adequately expressed is worth more than a bad idea eloquently expressed.
If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.
If you’re trying to develop fresh angles, perspectives and insights, time is your best friend. I often start thinking through a sermon series or book a year or two in advance. I’ll keep notes in Evernote and just let the ideas simmer, refining them or adding to them regularly.
If time is your best friend, change of venue is your next best friend. I personally find that ideas get better not when I’m sitting at a computer keyboard, but when I’m doing something else: cycling, cutting the grass, washing the car, listening to a podcast or music, or even cooking. Something in the back of my brain will connect dots I didn’t think connected.
When that happens, all you need is a place to record the idea. Again, Evernote is so handy. I have recorded dozens of voice files in Evernote during bike rides. It’s a convenient way to save key ideas I don’t want to lose without stopping.
This approach may not get you to next Sunday or your Wednesday deadline, but don’t get discouraged.
Instead, this week, why not start keeping notes on future series, articles and posts? Use whatever system you want, but just write your ideas down and let them gestate.