What do you want?

It was a miracle – we were actually running early for church. We got the kids to their respective Sunday School rooms, then made our way to the sanctuary. For once I had a little pep in my step. It’s nice to be early as opposed to my usual frantic frenzy of rolling in on two wheels at the last possible second.

After a couple of worship songs, the assistant pastor got up in front of the church. “It’s the first Sunday of the month. You guys know what that means?” As he began to explain to the audience, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I knew exactly where he was going with this.

You see, my church does this thing the first Sunday of every month. If you have a birthday that month, you get up in front of the congregation and tell everybody what you want for your birthday. Sometimes people say something silly like a car or a housecleaning service. But it’s often something deeper. People struggling with infertility want a baby. People out of work desperately want a job.

The idea is that we often don’t share with God our obvious wants and desires. Which is kind of ridiculous if you think about it, because God knows everything. Yet we have this innate tendency to say “No, I’m fine,” whenever it comes time to talk about ourselves. But just like the parent who loves talking about the little things going on at school because they just want to spend time with the child, God wants us to share what’s going on with us so that we’ll spend time with him.

When Jesus met the two followers of John who would become his first two disciples, he cut straight to the chase. “What do you want?”

In a sense, he is constantly holding out that question to us. And since he knows the depths of our being, we might as well tell him. And because he’s the King of Kings and all, it’s probably a good idea because he can probably do something about it. He can provide hope. He can provide answers. And in situations where those first two aren’t possible, he can provide comfort.

So tell him what you want.

Oh, you’re probably wondering what my answer was. It’s hard to articulate that deep seated musician’s fear that I carry around with me. The whole “this could end in a moment and I’m not qualified to do anything else” thing. I pretty much pray that one every day.

Since that one is so hard to explain, I said that I wanted my kids to figure out their giftings and their place in life. Which is true – if I can help my kids figure out their callings, I will have fulfilled a big part of mine. And hey, I will take any chance I can get to have people pray for my kids.

What about you? What do you want? Bring it before God – you just might be amazed at his answer!

Can you find God in the circumstances?

The other day we were playing at a church in Calgary that had a bookstore. I love finding bookstores when we’re on tour, but it’s a lot easier when the bookstore finds me. I came across a couple of books I had never seen before, and thought they were interesting. I didn’t really have a lot of time as we were leaving to drive to Banff, so I left, thinking it might be kind of cool to look for these books later.

About halfway back to the bus, I stopped dead in my tracks. I knew – I just knew – that I needed to go back and get these two books. So I walked back into the bookstore, got the books, and took them to the cash register. Lo and behold, the Canadian credit card machine didn’t like my American Express, or my debit card for that matter. Befuddled but determined, I walked back to the dressing room area and borrowed some cash. And came back and bought the books.

I just finished the first one and it was absolutely amazing. Probably the most influential book I’ve read so far this year. I dove into the second one, and it seems promising as well.

So here’s my question. When I felt that knowing that I needed to go back and get the books, was that from God? When I was having the trouble making the purchase, was everything going all Frank Peretti on me? Was it spiritual warfare, where forces of darkness were trying to prevent my purchase?

Or did my difficulties signify that I wasn’t supposed to buy the book? If this feeling was from God, shouldn’t he have paved the way for me to buy these books easily?

Or secret option 3: maybe none of it was from God. Maybe the feeling of knowing was in my head. Maybe the trouble with the credit card machine was just that, and would have happened whether I was buying spiritual books or peppermints.

What do you think?

A postcard from Canada


What’s up there? I hope this finds you doing well. Things are going great here. I have been on tour in Canada for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been having an absolute blast. I can now say I’ve seen the largest mall in North America since I did my Mother’s Day shopping at the West Edmonton Mall. I sure hope Stephanie likes hockey, because they have a BUNCH of hockey stuff up here. No, I think I’m going to get her something with a moose on it.

And the food! I had some ketchup potato chips and a maple doughnut form Tim Horton’s within the first couple of days and thought I was good. But then I went and had poutine, which consists of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds – what’s not to love? And I’ve now discovered what has become one of my absolute favorite foods: the Montreal sandwich. If you ever get the chance, give it a try. You’re welcome.

I have learned a valuable lesson while up here. I need to put my phone down and live my life. Let me explain…

One thing that has been a little different is that I haven’t been able to get online much. International cell service is really expensive, so I’ve been relying on the old fashioned World Wide Web. And for some reason, that’s been hard to find. It has taken me some getting used to, but I think I’m OK without having to be on the Internet all the time.

I am so used to watching a baseball game and wondering what the score is and immediately being able to look it up. I am also used to being in the middle of a conversation and having a question come up, then instantly finding the answer on my phone. I have been forced to “wonder without Googling”, and while it was a little weird at first, I almost think I like that better.

I even think that when I get back to the States, I’m going to use my phone a little less. Just a little. Here are a few ideas. Maybe they’ll spur you to think of a few of your own:

1. When I’m in a conversation and somebody wonders something, I can just say “I don’t know”. We humans have been just fine with that up to this point. Why do I have to look it up instantly? I don’t. Instead, I can focus on the people I’m with.
2. When I’m waiting on somebody in a restaurant, I don’t have to take out my phone and look at Twitter. I really don’t. I can take in the environment. I can people watch. I can just sit there. It’s OK.
3. When I’m driving in my car and the song or the podcast ends, I don’t have to get my phone out and search for something else to listen to. This is how accidents happen. This is how people die. I can enjoy a few minutes of silence.
4. When I’m with my kids, I can be with my kids. Even if it’s in the middle of the Braves game. I can watch the end of the game later.
5. When I’m in the middle of something and the phone rings, I don’t have to pick it up. Oh wait – I got that one down. I don’t ever pick up my phone. EVER. Unless it’s my wife or daughter. It’s worked for me. You might want to try it!

Don’t get me wrong. The phone is a wonderful thing. The internet is a wonderful thing. We are able to do things that our predecessors only dreamed of. But we don’t have to do them all. the. time.

Canada, eh? Delightful people. Wonderful food. I’ve made some great memories. And I learned a great lesson about that whole internet thing.

See you soon!


Wisdom, Timely and Timeless

It’s not often that you get to read a new passage from a book that’s over 50 years old, and over 10 years since the author has been deceased. But for myself and other fans of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, we are getting that opportunity.

L’Engle’s granddaughter came across an unpublished passage from an early draft of the book and shared it with the Wall Street Journal this week. Reading the passage sounds as timely today as it would have been in 1962:

For the moment [Meg] felt completely safe and secure and it was the most beautiful feeling in the world. So she said, “But Father, what’s wrong with security? Everybody likes to be all cozy and safe.”
“Yes,” Mr. Murry said, grimly. “Security is a most seductive thing.”
“Well – but I want to be secure, Father. I hate feeling insecure.”
“But you don’t love security enough so that you guide your life by it, Meg.”

[After recapping with Meg and Calvin the children’s brave actions, he goes on]:

“I’ve come to the conclusion,” Mr. Murry said slowly, “that it’s the greatest evil there is. Suppose your great great grandmother, and all those like her, had worried about security? They’d never have gone across the land in flimsy covered wagons. Our country has been the greatest when it has been most insecure. This sick longing for security is a dangerous thing, Meg, as insidious as the strontium 90 from our nuclear explosions…”

(via WSJ.com. brackets indicate edits I made for space and relevance only.)

Now, obviously this passage has ramifications both for the Cold War of L’Engle’s day and today’s War on Terror. Looking beyond politics, this has major implications at the personal level.

I just finished reading Brené Brown‘s excellent book Daring Greatly. She talks about how everyone lives with shame, and how dealing with shame is one of the most difficult and brave things we can do in our lives. It involves a willingness to be vulnerable with other people. It involves leaning into shame.

And it involves a whole lot of discomfort.

God designed us in brilliant fashion. We are wired to protect ourselves, and we do a wonderful job of it. We keep up a level of comfort through all kinds of difficult situations. But our hearts are still left wondering. Is that all there is? Doesn’t God want us to grow?

The answer, according to Brown, seems to be leaning into discomfort to the point that we get used to it. Own all of our stuff. Have the difficult conversations. Say no to all of those little numbing tactics we use to get through the day.

Like L’Engle says above, security has its place. But don’t guide your life by it.
Instead, guide your life on a path of “daring greatly”. Make that difficult phone call. Stop and help the stranger, even if it might mean “getting involved”. Try to be an example of a good parent, a good spouse, a good boss, a good Christian.

And as much as we think that example is all about being strong, often it’s the opposite. It’s about admitting we don’t know everything. It’s owning our faults and imperfections, not in a celebrity tell-all kind of way, but in a way that feels natural and right with those who have earned the right to be a part of our lives.

This message means different things to different people. For me it means admitting to my kids that I’m not perfect. It means sharing with my wife all the tough things I’m going through. It means posting some not-so-perfect moments to Instagram and Facebook. It means going against the normal “dude” thing and sharing my weaknesses with other guys. It probably means something different to you.

Thinking back to Meg, she was able to save her father and brother by embracing discomfort. But in the end, she was able to defeat the enemy not by being someone she’s not, but by being exactly who she was. So maybe it’s time to let go of being who everybody else wants me to be. Maybe it’s time to be who I was made to be.

If we all quit trying to be so perfect, if we all quit trying to be so secure, and if we all lean into shame and hurt and not-perfect, we might be able to help each other just a little bit.

So let’s put down our security and get used to being uncomfortable. Let’s pick up our cross and try the higher road for a while. I think we would all be better for it.

Thanks, Brené, for a timely book. And thanks, Madeleine, for wisdom that is truly timeless.

Being a naysayer, or why I haven’t listened to Better Than Ezra in a decade

The 1997 version of me would be confused right about now.

If you had seen me at any point in early 1997, I was driving my pickup truck with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs.”I remember running through the wet grass! Falling a step behind! Both of us never tiring! DESPERATELY WANTING!” Better Than Ezra was not just my favorite band. They were The Greatest Band in the History of the World. And their single “Desperately Wanting” encapsulated everything I loved about the band, nay, everything I loved about music, in 4 minutes 37 seconds of sheer bliss*.

If I wasn’t listening to it, I was evangelizing it. If one of my bandmates was listening to their Discman at the airport, I would shake my finger at them in that “tisk, tisk” kind of way, hand them my copy of “Friction, Baby” and tell them to cue up track 8**.

If you had asked me in 1997 what I’d be into in 2015, I would have been pretty sure that Better Than Ezra fit into the equation somewhere. But the 2015 version of me couldn’t tell you what they’ve been up to since they had that “Lifetime” song a couple years back. Oh wait, what? That was 10 years ago. So It’s been a decade since I’ve kept up with The Greatest Band in the History of the World.

Moving on, I did a post yesterday about naysayers and the idea of Bless Your Heart. Yes, I am here because I followed God’s path for me and didn’t listen to naysayers. But here’s the thing. I have been on the other side. Many, many, times.

1) I have a friend named Alex. Stephanie went to high school with his wife, and they remain close friends. We were staying at their house in the fall of 2002. We didn’t see much of Alex that weekend because he was working on a movie. I thought it was cool, but didn’t really think anything about it. Then he put the movie out and they played it in a bunch of Georgia theaters. A couple years later, he put out another film called Facing the Giants. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

2) I went to high school with two sisters named Chanda and Christa. A few years back, a friend of mine and Stephanie’s gave us a little elf that the sisters had made. The idea was that the elf would move around your house every night leading up to Christmas. Kids would see this and make the connection that the elf was checking in with Santa while they were asleep. I thought it was a neat idea, but didn’t think any more about it. Of course, that would be the Elf on the Shelf. Yup. That little elf was a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year.

3) Around the time we were recording our first worship album, a friend of ours gave us a demo of a song. I thought it was pleasant enough, but I didn’t really get it. I was adamant that we record another song instead. You’ve never heard of the other song we recorded, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of “God of Wonders”. At our studio we have a plaque commemorating that song being played in OUTER SPACE.

So if I tell a story about naysayers, it is only fair to point out that I’ve been one too.

But the thing is, I don’t even think “naysayer” is the right term here, or even fair.

Yes, there are the true naysayers – those trolls who see somebody trying to do something good and start throwing lawn darts at them. I’m not talking about that. Ignore them.

And I’m not talking about those well intentioned friends and family members who might have your best interest at heart or they might be reading your situation out of their playbook and making it harder for you both. That’s a tough one and probably a topic for another post.

I’m talking about a third category. The rest of us. You see, I liked all those things I mentioned above. I thought they were pretty good ideas. I just missed them. Why? I think it’s a question of time and space.

Back to Better Than Ezra. I kept up with those guys. Then Wilco came along, and now I gotta remember to buy the new Wilco album along with anything Better Than Ezra puts out and let’s don’t forget R.E.M. – I LOVED those guys in high school. And what about Oasis? What a great band – I liked them better than Blur but if you really like Britpop you better check out Kula Shaker. It’s hard being a music snob, but I sure tried. Every time something new came out, it got a little harder to keep up with it all. But I somehow managed.

I kept up the music snob thing right up until October 27, 2003. The next morning, my baby girl was born. When I made room in my heart and life for her, I had to give some other things up. One of those was keeping up with the newest, hippest music.

Also, at some point around that time, the radio dial in our car got turned to the country station and we forgot to change it back to the hip alternative channel (they still have that, right?). One day I heard a song by Kenny Chesney called “There Goes My Life” and it flat out KILLED ME. I have been on a constant quest ever since for those story songs that just tear you up. Unfortunately, they’ve been playing all this Florida Georgia mess so I’ll just have to wait a while longer…

But what does that have to do with the Elf on the Shelf and “God of Wonders” and the Facing the Giants guys? I wasn’t naysaying. I really wasn’t – I genuinely liked those things, and thought they were good ideas. I was just busy and distracted. It’s called Being a Dad.

I bristle when people claim that people are all jaded and bitter and don’t give new things a chance. I disagree. People love new things. Every year at the Oscars we embrace a new movie nobody’s heard of because it’s great. Bands like For King and Country come along and win everybody over. They just have to kick up some dust and get people’s attention. Because we’re all just busy and distracted. And tired. Because we’ve got these kids to get to school every morning.

Or maybe it’s just me. I just don’t have time to keep up with the latest and the greatest. And I don’t have the mental space to do it anyway.

You have a band or a blog and you want me to check it out. Here’s my $0.02. If you have something you want to do and you’re good at it, do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. In fact, don’t listen to anyone. Well, listen to people in your field who know what they’re talking about. Listen to your friends and family if you’ve held their feet to the fire and know they genuinely want the best for you and not themselves. Other than that, don’t listen to anyone.

But keep it up – maybe one of these days you’ll kick up enough dust that busy and distracted people like me will notice it. Maybe you will come up with the next “God of Wonders” or “Facing the Giants” or Elf on the Shelf. Or maybe you won’t. But I guarantee that your life will be richer because you kept at it.

Or who knows? Maybe in 20 years somebody will write a blog post about how awesome you were and wonder whatever happened to you.

* Truth be told, “Desperately Wanting” was my second favorite song from that year. The first would be “Lovefool” by The Cardigans. But I didn’t need to own that record. They played that song everywhere. On the radio, at the grocery store, while you were waiting for food at Wendy’s, in the waiting room at the oil change place, you get the idea…

** Hey kids – they used to have these things called CD’s. It involved this round disc thingy. Kind of like a vinyl album but smaller. You would play it in a DiscMan. They sounded great but they skipped a lot and- never mind.

On Sugar Ray Marimon, and 10 Years of “Bless Your Heart”

I was at the Braves game last night. While I was still waiting in line for peanuts, the Marlins scored three runs. They added another before I got settled in my seat. So before I was officially ready to watch the game, it was probably over.

But there was a silver lining. The Braves took out the starting pitcher, and another guy trotted onto the field. The stadium emcee announced him as “Sugar Ray Marimon“. Sugar Ray? Really? I got out my trusty iPhone and did some research. The Braves just called him up from the minors on Monday, and this was his first major league appearance. He is a distant cousin of Braves pitcher Julio Teheran. And, most importantly, Sugar Ray is his real name.

What struck me most about Sugar Ray Merimon is that he has pitched in the minor leagues for years. He has over 500 innings of work under his belt, and if you average that out, that’s probably about 100 games he’s pitched. On a 5 day pitching rotation, we’re talking YEARS, all spent getting ready for this moment.

I’m sure the first couple of years were exciting. Sugar Ray would go home to Colombia and hang out at the family reunion, sharing stories about going to America and playing professional baseball. But after a couple of years I bet it took a different feel.

I don’t know about Colombia, but in the Southern U.S., we have a phrase for that situation. It’s called Bless Your Heart.

I know this because I lived it for 10 years. I started a band right out of high school, and people thought it was cute. Fast forward a couple of years, when it’s time for me to start getting serious about my career options, and cute is quickly replaced by Bless Your Heart.

I had a couple of family reunion conversations that went something like this:

“Mark, how are your studies coming along at Georgia Tech?”
“I put school down for awhile. I got too busy with the band.”
“Well bless your heart.”

Or at my wedding reception:
“Stephanie, what does Mark do for a living?”
“He plays guitar in a band.”
“Well bless your heart.”

Many times on airplanes as I was traveling to a show, it was like this:
“Oh, you’re in a band. Where are you playing? The arena downtown?”
“No, we’re playing at a church. We do Christian music.”
“Well bless your heart.”

You see, Bless Your Heart is kind of a catchall phrase that sounds nice, but underneath the nice is something akin to “what an idiot”.

I’ve heard it said that there really isn’t a noticeable difference between someone who is pursuing a dream and a literal, certifiable, lock-you-up crazy person. The only way to tell is to just live it out. I guess at some point you either meet success or you get a big enough dose of critical feedback and you move on to the next thing. Or maybe you get locked up somewhere. I’m not sure how it goes exactly.

But maybe, just maybe, you break through. You get called up to the majors. And you will appreciate all the blessings your heart got along the way. Because it doesn’t get any easier. It’s a tough road and you need all the help you can get.

All the best to my new favorite player, Sugar Ray Marimon. I mean, his name is Sugar Ray. What’s not to love?

You don’t like it? Well bless your heart.


Can you spare some change?

Whenever we think about change, it’s go big or go home. This is a lovely thought, except for one thing. We almost never follow through with it. Because it’s just too big, too much, too different for us to be able to handle.

But what if change was like, well, change? You know – you buy something, they give you a few coins back and you put them in your pocket. You then go home and throw them in a jar. You don’t really even think about it, but over time that jar fills up. You take it down to that little change counter thingy at the grocery store (man I wish I’d invented that thing!) and what happens. You are always amazed at how much money you had in that jar.

If we treated change like, um, change, then we’re not doing a complete overhaul every time we go to exercise. We’re just going to run for twenty or thirty minutes. We’re not going to write a novel every time we sit at our writing desk. It’s just a page or two.

But then a funny thing happens. All those little times you went and exercised add up. All the times you chose writing over Welcome Back, Kotter add up. And next thing you know it, you’ve changed.

All those small things add up to big things.

Can you do it? Can you spare some change?

10 ideas a day

Ideas are funny things. I can’t decide if they’re worthless or priceless. You pull them out of the air like they’re free, and they kind of are, unless someone else already had the idea and laid claim to it.

Almost all of them are bad. Embarrassingly bad.

But then there are the good ones. The ones that change people’s lives.

But how do we come up with them?

We hold up the concept of eureka and just figure we’ll hang out until a good idea comes along and it will be so good we’ll run through the village naked.

Or we think of Ben Franklin and his lightning bolt and figure we’ll just hang out til lightening strikes us, too. It never does.

Instead of hanging out and waiting, a better strategy might be to come up with a bunch of bad ideas. Just keep coming up with them. Cranking them out like clockwork.

Claudia Azula Altucher has a great book called Becoming an Idea Machine. She suggests making the habit of writing down 10 ideas a day. Her husband James is one of my favorite bloggers and he also talks about this repeatedly, saying things like “ideas are the currency of the 21st century” and “you have to develop your idea muscle”. I’m not sure about that first line – it seems like it would be right but I haven’t really lived it. But I know from experience that the second is definitely true.

In my experience of writing songs, the regular practice of coming up with creative ideas does two things:

1) You get better at coming up with ideas through regular practice – I really think there’s something to this “idea muscle” thing. In my case, working every day helps avoid that dreaded blank screen and gives me something to work on. More importantly, the ideas that I come up with seem to improve with practice.

2) That eureka or lightning bolt still happens, but it is accompanied by a lot of hard work – I might work for four hours on a song that I like OK but feels like it’s not going anywhere. Then later that day when I’m driving around, I’ll just randomly get the idea that makes it all come together. Or, even better, I’ll be doing something else and not even thinking about it, and I’ll get an idea for a better song. But this doesn’t happen if I’m not working.

Yes, I’m using songwriting as an example, because that’s what I know. But I really think this idea generation thing can apply to any realm. Try coming up with 10 ideas a day. After a few months, you will get better, and who knows – it might turn your whole life around.

Try it – write down 10 ideas. Make sure you do 10. It can be a practical list like blog ideas or meal plans, or something off the wall like 10 ways NASA could get to the moon. Just make sure they’re about the same topic.

For more ideas, I highly recommend reading Claudia Azula Altucher’s book. Also James Altucher has blogged extensively about the topic. Start here.

The foolishness of God

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25

By some divine scheduling quirk, April Fool’s Day falls right in the middle of Holy Week this year. And that seems perfect.

Everybody expected the Messiah to be born in a palace. He was born in a stable.


Everybody expected God would recruit the best and brightest minds to preach his good news. Instead he went down to the fishing docks and got the first guys he could find.


Everybody expected God to send a warrior king to storm the city on a horse. Instead he sent a Prince of Peace on a donkey.


Everybody expected Jesus to outwit his accusers with a sharp wit and verbal acumen. Instead he was silent.


Everybody expected God to send down angels to save his son from a humiliating death on a cross. Instead Jesus died.


A foolish end to a foolish kids’ story.

But it wasn’t the end.

Three days later Jesus rose again. Not long after, he ascended into heaven.

All that foolishness was now shown to be nothing short of perfect.

God’s plan did not rely on human status or human wisdom or human strength. Otherwise we might think we can earn our own way.

It’s not about us. It’s all about God. It’s foolish, and it’s supposed to be.

I’m glad God chose the foolish to shame the wise. And I love that he loves a fool like me.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Where do your ideas come from?

I get this question a lot in the musical realm. Where do I get Ideas for songs? It seems that all you need is a good idea and you’re just golden. My suggestion: forget about finding good ideas. Write songs about whatever ideas you happen to have. Even if they’re bad ones. Because writing bad songs teaches you as much or more than writing good songs.

Commit to the process, and the ideas will take care of themselves.

Oddly, those kinds of questions have surfaced in the blogging realm as well. I’ll get there in a minute. But I thought it would be interesting to share a little trivia with you: I write prose because I couldn’t find a book on writing songs.

When I was in college, I decided that I wanted to start writing songs. I had this lofty vision of the creative process. And by lofty, I mean that in the most literal of terms.

I grabbed a notebook and marched up to the top of the nearest mountain. Bear in mind that in Georgia we define the word “mountain” a little differently – think really big hill. But it was still a solid 30 minute hike to the top, and I was pretty exhausted. Didn’t get much writing done. Not to mention that it kind of helps to have a guitar or something when writing songs.

One positive thing did come out of that little episode. Afterwards I went to a local bookstore and looked for books on songwriting. They only had a couple, and they looked kind of lame. But they had shelves and shelves of books about writing. One in particular jumped out at me: Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande.

This excellent little book gets into the mental side of writing like nothing else I’ve ever read. Brande recommends two habits to form at the center of your writing life.

1) Write every morning – Get up very first thing when you get up in the morning and write. Write fast and write furious. Don’t worry about editing – the fact that you are writing so early will help you sneak past that inner voice that tells you you’re no good. This is a little different than the “brain dump” thing I’ve talked about before. You’re trying to write something usable here. At first your writing will be of the “it’s so early why am I doing this” variety. But over time it will evolve into something more valuable. After you’ve done this for several weeks, go back and read it. The writing style and the voice will point towards the kind of writing you want to pursue. If it’s recounting episodes from the day before with lots of dialogue, you might make a good fiction writer. If you write a lot about events from your childhood, you might be suited as a memoirist. If you’re looking for a good entry point into the world blogging, or any kind of writing, this might be the place to start.

2) Write on schedule – In addition to writing in the morning, the practice of writing at predetermined times is important to the budding writer. Whenever you are making your plans for the week, find two or three blocks of time, maybe a half hour each. During these times, sit down and write. Treat these like you would any other appointment. You have to make them. The first couple of times you might just twiddle your thumbs through this time and that’s OK. But eventually you are trying to become a person who writes whether you feel like it or not.

These two practices, writing in the morning and writing on schedule, will put you well on your way to a writing life. I promise that the question of where ideas come from will quickly vanish as you dive into the process. By doing these practices, you will soon be sitting on a wealth of ideas.

So give it a shot. The beauty is, if you try this approach and fail, this process could help you realize that writing is not for you. Crossing that off the list can help you find something else useful to pursue.