My Problem

I have a problem. I keep doing the same thing over and over. And it’s ridiculous. It’s crazy. In fact, Albert Einstein is credited with saying that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”

What is my problem? I use the ellipsis too much in my writing.

See, I write the way I talk most of the time. (You probably just read it much slower than I say it.) In a blog that is more a relaxed flow of thoughts, perhaps it is alright to overuse the ellipsis. You, the reader, get it. It gives you the cue to pause as you read.

But when I wrote my first book, I Got A “D” In Leadership, my editor pointed out repeatedly… until she got tired and just finally said to watch for it from that point forward… that I way overuse this little jewel of punctuation. (I think it’s my favorite, although the exclamation point runs a tight second.) The problem is that there are other ways to show pause in writing. Enough ways to keep the writing interesting and the reader engaged. She gave me examples and showed me why they would work more effectively.

So when I wrote my second book, The Upside, I purposely worked hard at making sure I did not overuse the ellipsis. And would you like to know what one of the first fixes my editor had to point out? You guessed it. The almighty ellipsis, my best friend in writing and simultaneously my arch nemesis. She reminded me that, while I could use it, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. And sometimes those ways are truly better.

Now, I know old habits die hard, but I was reminded once again in that editing process that there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. Truth is, when I switched to some of the others, I found myself liking the writing better. It better suited what I was trying to communicate. It gave me new methods. I actually enjoyed the writing even more.

Here’s the thing… We all deal with this problem. Oh, perhaps yours is not a punctuation problem. Yours is almost certainly something else. Maybe something far more significant. Perhaps you need to shed some weight for your health. Maybe you want to improve your marriage. Or maybe you just want to get to work on time. But the principle is the same.

There is probably at least one other way of accomplishing your goal. You don’t have to keep doing things the same old way. And a new year is the perfect time to decide to and discipline yourself to try a new way. And in the process, you just might find that you like the new way even better.

God is the God of new things. Sure, He is from eternity past. Of course He is familiar with history. But He offer new life, new hope, new methods, new creativity, new options, new possibilities. Instead of doing things the same old way, why not ask God to help you today to begin to discover new ways to accomplish your goals?

A Great Read

I hated reading.  Don’t hate me.  I didn’t say I still hate reading.  I just said that I used to hate it.  In fact, until I got to my sophomore year at SAGU, I only read the Bible and books that I had to read for school.  There was one small window as a preteen when I enjoyed a couple of Star Wars novels, but apart from that, reading was anathema to me.

That all changed when Dr. Amy Alexander began her Comp 1 class with a devotion each day.  She would often read from a book from this one particular author.  As she read passages from the book and elaborated on them, I became entranced.  I was fascinated by this person who could write in such a way that it drew me in.  After hearing her read from this author’s book a few times, I had to find out who he was.  So I asked her after class one to to tell me that guy’s name so that I could write it down.

I was so excited about finding an author whose writing I enjoyed that I wanted to be sure to tell my parents the next weekend I was home from college.  They are avid readers, and I was sure they would also be overjoyed.  In fact, I was sure they would want to read his books, too.  I launched into telling Mom about it as soon as I got home.

“Mom, I have to tell you about this new author.  I usually don’t like reading, but I’ve got to find this guy’s books.  I could read anything he writes. His name is Max Lucado.”

My mom just laughed, and said, “Yeah, I know about him.  I have three or four of his books.”

I was blown away that she knew of the igniter of my reading passion.  And even more blown away that she had some of his books.  So when she asked if I’d like to borrow a couple of them to take back to school when I went back, I was ecstatic.

She added, “If you like his writing, I bet you’ll like this other author’s writing, too.”  That author was Charles Swindoll.

From there, I was introduced to the writings of Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale, and others.  Suddenly, I liked to read.  I was a reader. Wow!

I’ve still read almost everything Lucado has written over the years.  And as time has gone on, I’ve discovered other authors I enjoy… Francis Chan, Kyle Idleman and Mark Batterson.

I mean, I read other books sometimes.  I listen to Christian fiction audiobooks by Ted Dekker, Terri Blackstock, Dee Henderson and Wayne Thomas Batson.  I picked up some leadership knowledge from John Maxwell, Peter Drucker and Henry Blackaby.  I’ve grown spiritually from reading titles like God’s Armorbearer and A Tale of Three Kings.  But in the end, I always gravitate back to the style that really hits home with me.  Something positive, upbeat.  Something that challenges but in a hopeful manner.  Something that lifts me to new heights of dreaming and believing and living.

So today, I finished reading chapter one of Dick and Ruth Foth’s new book, Known.  Chapter 1 is worth the price I paid for the entire book!  I can’t even speak to the rest of the book, but if you love a good story with a great point, you’ll love this book.

Why would I recommend a book I love?  Because Dr. Amy Alexander recommended one to me 25 years ago, and it has made a significant impact on my life.  Truth be told, I am the person and the writer I am today in large part due to being introduced to that first book.

So, even if you don’t like to read (anything other than the Bible… and this blog)… or even if you read slowly like I do… let me encourage you to find that author, that book, that genre, that format (hardcopy, digital or audio), and read, read, read.  Pick something you will enjoy, and it will motivate you to read more.  And as you read, your world will expand with new dreams, ideas and possibilities.

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