Murphey-UnleashWriter

Unleash the Writer Within: The Essential Writers’ Companion (Waterford, VA: OakTara, 2012)

You may never fully understand your motives, but it’s still a good question to ask yourself regularly: Why do I write? — Cecil Murphey

Whether you’re writing for publication or putting your life down in a journal, launching a blog or already writing professionally, here’s a book that can help you figure out why you really write, and why it’s important for you to explore the question.

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a few writing classes taught by Cecil Murphey, co-author of the popular book 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life. Whether speaking or writing, “Cec” embodies a down-to-earth style and “no bull” approach.  In his book for writers, Unleash the Writer Within: The Essential Writers’ Companion, Cec sits at eye-level with you, like the long-time friend who can shoot you straight about your writing, why you write, who you are as a writer, and how to work with your inner critic to improve your writing instead of warring against it.

Cec offers an honest examination of his own life as a writer, his ups, downs, and doubts, and his own experiences in overcoming the challenges most writers face (and aren’t willing to admit). He also asks tough questions, including one that I believe lurks around every budding writer’s psyche—is writing really your gift?

Check out more on Cecil, his books, and his speaking schedule via his website, www.cecilmurphey.com.

Your Million Dollar Question

Years ago, a man I had just met asked me, “Brock, if you had all the money to go where you wanted to go and do what you wanted to do, what would that look like?”

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This was the “find somebody you don’t know and introduce yourself” part of an eight week church men’s group, and the question caught me off guard. My mind scrambled for a proper response.

“You’re thinking too hard,” he said. “Forget about what anyone thinks. What’s in your heart?”

Do Women Write Better Than Men?

Ladies. Gentlemen. Take off your gloves. It’s time for a literary showdown!

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Grammarly.com, the online grammar checker giant, conducted a poll through Google Consumer Surveys to ask the question, “Who Writes Better — Men or Women?” The infographic in this post suggests an answer to that question, plus a comparison of different writing approaches between the sexes on pronoun usage and sentence structure to plot and character development.

Push It Real Good in 2015

Just a few hours before writing this post, I had barely finished half a bowl of chili when I felt a crunch as pain shot across my lower left jaw. My wife and oldest son turned with eyes wide. “What was that?” they said. I’d chomped onto a hard piece of gristle, but my tongue, probing for shrapnel, felt something larger wiggle.

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Cold air rolled over the molar as I ran to the bathroom mirror with a flashlight. I found a quarter of the tooth completely separated but still attached to the gum. I shook my head and thought about a goal I’d set for myself exactly one year earlier—to eat healthier, exercise more, and shave thirty pounds. I had failed miserably with that goal and paid the price for it.

Monday Morning Stars

christmas-starIt’s a Monday in December, 7:30 a.m. I’m staring out my car window, driving the same streets, passing the same buildings, avoiding the same potholes, and sipping the same coffee. Too often, work feels like a chore, our lives pared down to whatever role it is we wake up to …

…to continue reading “Monday Morning Stars,” part of this month’s “Advent Works” theme at The High Calling, please click here for the full story at TheHighCalling.org.

Featured image by open-arms. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

EssentialismBook

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014)

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Do you ever feel that way? It’s a tough balance to live out the life and purposes we feel so compelled to pursue, while being confronted every day with an overwhelming number of requests that we cannot meet. And the confusion most of us face is what do we say “yes” or “no” to? How do we discern what is important and what is most important? How do we work through the process of turning down some very good opportunities so we can focus our resources toward the right opportunities, or the best? How do we reduce the clutter so we can identify what we’re supposed to be doing in the first place?

In what has become one of the most influential reads on my bookshelf, Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less presents a roadmap to these questions and the way of the “Essentialist.” This is not some flower-child sell-off-all-your-possessions idea. It is the solution to how we can accomplish more by doing less. “Less but better,” as McKeown says. He helps you take an honest look at the pressure cooker lifestyle you’re living right now and shows you the way out through choice—your choice.

McKeown’s offer is written for today’s generation. I nodded through the entire book thinking, this guy knows exactly what’s happening in our society, and he gets it. It’s not only helped me avoid burnout—again—but it has also given me focus on strengthening the key relationships in my life, getting serious about my health (and the 40 pounds I’ve gained in the last four years), and the freedom to invest in the areas where I am passionate and needed the most versus those opportunities where I am simply wanted the most.

-bsh

Subscribe to the Lifesummit Blog RSS Feed

Since moving to my new blog hosting site, I’ve had to make some changes related to my RSS feed. If you’re already familiar with RSS, then all you need to know is my RSS feed address has changed and you can click the familiar RSS icon in the upper right corner of my blog (or the button in this post) for the new feed page.

If you’re new to RSS, it stands for Rich Site Summary (some call it Really Simple Syndication). You can read the Wiki to learn more about it, but RSS allows you to subscribe to blog posts using web-based news readers (here is Michael Hyatt’s post on the free Feedly Reader).

As mentioned above, you can click the icon below (or on the right side of the webpage) to be directed to my RSS Feed.

RSS Reminder

I also encourage you to subscribe to my email list using the “Join the e-mail List!” widget located on the right side of my website. Each new blog post will be delivered directly to your Inbox. And you have my promise that I won’t send spam email or share your email address with anyone. Thank you for subscribing!

Embrace Stillness Training

I was barely ninety minutes eastbound out of Denver when the road closure forced me off the interstate. A spring blizzard near the Colorado-Kansas border was laying sheets of ice across roadways and knocking visibility down to zero. Even though the sky was sunny and blue at this exit, authorities deemed it too dangerous to allow travelers to rush into the storm unaware. So this is how it begins, I thought.

LeavingColorado

My wife and I had decided, after five years in Colorado, to relocate our family back to our hometown area in Southern Indiana. A tough decision—it was Colorado, after all—and if it wasn’t hard enough leaving my wife and children behind for the next two months to start a new job, getting stuck in Eastern Colorado (with no mountains) didn’t help.

But this inconvenience was about to reveal something crucial for navigating any season of life successfully.

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Snow Day (New York, NY: FaithWords, 2010)

(This is a re-post book review from January 2011. I enjoyed this book very much and thought this would be a great time of year to recommend it again.)

Peter Boyd is the neighbor we all want to have. He’s hardworking, loves his wife, adores his children, lends a hand, and carries that small town common sense we all could stand to tie to our own hitch. But there’s one problem nagging at an otherwise blessed man.

Talk of layoffs at the local factory has Peter worried about everything he has worked so hard to build and support. If he becomes a victim of the sign of these poor economic times, he’s up cow-patty creek to find suitable work in his hometown. The water is rising fast on the few dreams still holding breath for his family.

And worse yet, the special needs of Peter’s young daughter only add to the strain of a man already doubting his faith in a God who is supposed to care.

Oops! Sorry for the Mess

Sorry for the mess around here. I’m in the process of moving from my old blog hosting site to a new one. I’m still unboxing a few items and finding their homes on the shelves.

moving

The good news is I wouldn’t be moving to a new site if I weren’t planning to connect with you more, so I hope you check back soon!

-bsh