Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ideas For Writing Myself Out Of My Own Self-Preoccupied, Solipcistic, Navel-Gazing Corner

It’s Day Nine of My 500 Word challenge by Jeff Goins at  I have written myself into a self-proccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corner.  Here are some of the ideas that I’ve come up with to write myself out of it.

1.  Humor.  My humor tends to work pretty well.  But humor is difficult to write unless you and your audience share the same context.  On the other hand, I spend the majority of my hours at my day job with high school students.  It would be an understatement to say that there is a fair amount of absurdity in the high school world.  So there’s certainly some material there.

2.  Self-Improvement Kick.  Every January, I do some annual planning and set some goals.  While I reached about eighty percent of my goals last year, there is a certain folly in posting your own goals for public consumption, unless you are doing it for accountability and to show that any old schmo can make an annual plan, come up with some means to fulfill the plan, and improvise some checks and balances on the way to keep on track.

3.  The Folly of the Self-Improvement Kick.  This could be fun — and funny!

4.  Book reviews.  There are innumerable sites that write book reviews.  However, none write them for my audience, nor are they a combination of my tastes, interests, and personality.

What about you?  How do you write your way out of your own self-preoccupied, solipcistic, navel-gazing corners?

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500 Word Challenge: What I’ve learned So Far

After five days of the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins,  I’ve already learned much more than I had planned.  Here are a few things:

Writing begets writing.  Progress in the number of words that I’m able to write has increased exponentially.  In other words, it’s not five times harder to write 500 words than it is to write 100 words.  In fact, it might even be easier once you get used to it.

Showing up is 90 percent of the battle.  Once you get started, the words and sentences start to flow.

Pen and paper work just fine.  Whatever I’m going to put out there for others to read needs to be edited anyway.  I know that people do it, but it seems like writing straight to your blog is like posting nude pictures of yourself on the internet — I can think of a million reasons not to do it and not a single reason to do it.

I’ve written at least 3000 words this week.  Multiplied by 50 weeks (I’m sure I’ll miss at least two somewhere in there), that’s 150,000 words for a year.  So in terms of the number of words, there is a book in me somewhere.

There are some days when a good percentage of my 500 words will actually be usable.  There are other days when very little of it will be usable.

You have to persevere through the days when writing is laborious and very little is useful to get to the high yield days.

The 30-40 minutes that it has been taking me to write the 500 words often seems like 2-3 minutes.  

If I want to average 500 usable words each day, I’ll probably need to aim higher.  On the other hand, if you have the words on paper (or in cyberspace) you can probably find some use for the words that you have written if you are willing to do some serious editing.

Take Permission: Exercise

      I’m taking permission this year to exercise each day.  A couple of years ago, I made the commitment to exercise at least five days per week.  However, this is one of the disciplines that seems to erode when “crunch time” comes with work or family.  One of the things that I’ve learned over this time is that when I don’t take care of myself, somebody always pays — whether it’s me, my family, colleagues at work, or my students.  Rather than put myself in last place here, I’m going to put myself first.

500 Word Challenge

500 Word Challenge

Challenge Accepted!

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Taking Permission: Setting Goals

Today, I am taking permission to set meaningful, achievable, and measurable goals for this year and to hold myself accountable to diligently use the means available to achieve these goals.

I’ve hated goal setting for most of my life.  This is because I am a recovering perfectionist.  I haven’t wanted to have to admit failure.  So, I haven’t wanted to be accountable.  In the past, I also haven’t done a good job of separating goals from desires.

Properly done, goal setting should provide a road map for the investment of time and resources into what really matters.  This shouldn’t be the bottleneck that it has been for me often, but it should inform my plans and desires and release me to accomplish them.

Take Permission: Take Care of Myself

I’m taking permission to take care of myself.  In the last couple of years, I’ve found that more self-care is necessary to be able to perform at an optimal level than I ever thought permissable, much less necessary.  No, I don’t think I’m turning into a narcissist.  Far from it.  What I have observed is that if I don’t perform the daily routines of prayer, reading the Scriptures, reading for my own growth and development, exercising, and eating well is that someone pays the penalty.  Sometimes it’s me.  Sometimes it’s my loved ones.  Sometimes it’s a student or a parent that just happened to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Regardless, I am taking permission to pay the price so that this doesn’t happen.  In this way, I will invest time and resources into what matters most and be better able to care for others as I do so.


2014 Theme: Take Permission!

Back after a long absence!  It’s a new year.  My theme for this year is “Take Permission.”  I’m indebted to Andy Traub of for the idea.  “Take Permission” encapsulates so many things that I want to put into practice this year.  The concept is that it’s as if we are waiting for someone to give us permission to what would be good for us and beneficial to others.  We need to take permission instead of waiting for someone else to give permission

I’m taking permission to develop my walk with God.  I’m taking permission to spend time in prayer and in the Scriptures.  This is something that is not just going to happen on its own.  What people want to “give permission” for are activities with tangible returns.  Developing your walk with God may not have immediate, tangible returns, but it is something worth doing.

I’m taking permission to develop myself.  For too long, I’ve allowed the unstated expectations of others to rule and direct me.  I’m going to develop character and competence, knowing that time devoted to this is never wasted.

I’m taking permission to write.  This is another solitary pursuit that may not have immediate, tangible returns, but one that is worth pursuing.

I’m taking permission to reach out to people.  It’s time for me to take the initiative to reach out and build friendships rather than waiting for other to do so.

I’m taking permission to say “no.”  By saying “no” to others, I can say “yes” to the things that are important.

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