Writing Pastor Workshop: Shorter Workflow Presentation

My needs for our writing workshop are focused on the “how” of writing. What will be an effective Writing Workflow for me as a writing pastor? I want a reliable recipe for writing.

Blogging as a medium:  Over 2 million blog posts are published on the Internet every day… There are currently over 330.6 million registered domain names as at the first quarter of 2017… With 58.8 percent market share and about 20.6 million active sites, WordPress is the world’s number one CMS. It hosts sites like The New York Times, Forbes and even the Facebook Blog and has been powering blogs created since 2004… The e-commerce industry is responsible for about $2 trillion in annual sales… $0.56 of every dollar spent in an offline store is influenced by a digital interaction…. There are 2.79 billion active social media users in the world. This is an increase of 21 percent from 2016.
Facebook now has over 2.01 billion monthly active users.

Simple Rules [2], Step #1. What Exactly Do I Want To Do?

I want to write to fulfill my calling. Matthew 25:15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. I have a responsibility for a body of information which is not to be buried in the earth but put to use.

My MBA purpose: As an architect of ideas, I add value to information from a variety of sources (input), to provide innovative spoken and written solutions (product) for intense and widespread human problems (market) in harmony with God’s will (evaluative process).

I want to create material that has permanent, ongoing value and is permanently available.

I want to advocate for ‘left-handed’ lay driven disciple making methods modeled by Jesus, John Wesley, my DMin project and by third world cell churches like Yoido Full Gospel Church and house church movements like CPM and T4T. This is to be the focus of the AmbidextrousChurch.com blog.

I want to write in Flow and have an elegant process to consistently create excellent material. Flow is a creative process which prevents burnout and writer’s block. I can use elements of structured, modular software programming to create a writing workflow. Once I have written the program for flow, I can run the program multiple times to reliably create content in flow.

Simple Rules, Step #2: Choose a Bottleneck. Where can a change make the greatest impact?  In Eliyahu Goldratt’s theory of constraints, a bottleneck is a step in a process that limits the flow of material through a process. You can recognize the constraint by the amount of inventory piled up in front of it waiting to be worked.

Bottleneck #1: Scanning and The Flood – I’m overwhelmed by input. Evernote clipping allows me to copy an entire web page into Evernote, and now I have collected over 71,355 Evernotes since 1/3/13, almost 80% of which could be seeds for a blog post. I intend to develop a writing process that will decrease the backlog and manufacture finished blog posts.

Bottleneck #2: Output is also flooded and chaotic. I have been blogging at AmbidextrousChurch.com since August 28, 2012. This blog has grown to 1129 posts and over 340,255 words. And it is a God-awful mess – an ‘everything bucket’ containing everything under the sun, most of which is unfinished, unhelpful and unlovely. Sort of like a garden that has become entirely overgrown. It has lost all focus. I’ve been pondering what to do about it for several years. I intend to use my Siteground web hosting to create multiple blogs for specific purposes, so that each blog can have a general focus.

Bottleneck #3: One blog is strangled by too much content. Further, as information uploaded to disciplewalk.com reached 25 gigabytes, the web hosting at Yahoo was unable to provide reliable hosting for the AmbidextrousChurch.com blog. Yahoo provides WordPress for free but does not support it; I did not have the time, wish or skill to learn how to program WordPress; that would take time away from writing. I moved the blog to Siteground.com, which specializes in hosting WordPress and provides extensive, free support.  This bottleneck is resolved.

Simple Rules, Step #3. Craft the Rules. Rules bring focus: I intend to increase consistent output of quality information. I intend to drain the flood of data with simple rules that help me add value to information and put it where it can be freely accessed online.

Decision/Boundary Rule: For output, Smaller is Better. Quicker to write, finish, export to output with less delay. Smaller posts are easier to writer, clearer to read, and easier for users to utilize. This solves the TL;DR problem: too long; didn’t read.

Decision/Boundary Rule: Reporting is better than creation. The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. [2]  Rather than make bones, I intend to move them, rearrange them. I intend to write as a journalist reporting on ideas. Revision can add more original material later as a part of adding value.

Decision/Boundary Rule: No new tools or methods with a learning curve. Focus on consistent output rather than continually searching for new methods. Use familiar tools rather than buy new ones. No new tool is so efficient that it will work better than just getting the work done. New tools are an addictive way to avoid the work.

Process rule: Write only with a crystal clear template. QNQS is a four-part simple template: Quote, Note, Questions, Sources. More complicated templates include Monroe’s Mountain, Wilson’s Content Marketing, and Heath Brother’s Made to Stick. Different questions help customize a template for a subject category; at first, the writing process answers these questions, then the questions are turned toward the reader and become journaling or discussion questions. Exegeting a quote and applying it to people who need to hear it is a familiar process in preaching.

Process rule: Use principles of structured, modular software development to organize post creation within the classic four processes of management. (Planning, Organizing, Execution, Evaluation, plus HIPO.) Flow is a process of execution. Planning and organizing need to be separated from execution in flow; they use different muscles and they must come first. (Using a template is an organizing tool.) Revision is a process of evaluation and must come afterward.

Blogging 102: The Process of Flow is like a bobsled run.

Acronyms:  I love creating acronyms, and they help me keep a process in my mind. You’ll find a lot of acronyms below. Modular software has a HIPO structure; each module has an input (data passed to the module), a process that takes place within the module, and an output (which returns data).  HIPPO describes two processes for each post. (Modules are called in a Hierarchy which provides order.)


The Basic QNQS Template: (The Bobsled)

QUOTE: [1]
QUESTIONS for thinking it through:
What does this say? (Understanding)
What does this say that I need to obey? (Strategy)
Who needs to hear this? (Market)
[1] This is an anchor post; its purpose is to begin a discussion on a particular topic, anchoring that conversation in the wisdom of the initial quote, which is from …
The images are from ChurchArt.com, a subscription service. The photo is by David Kueker. The photo ” ” is by and is from … Pixabay Unsplash courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.
Any Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

HIERARCHY – There is a plan: Five Step Writing Workflow: HIPPO = Hierarchy, Input, Parse, Process, Output.

#1. INPUT: SPRIG sources. (I can clip information from all of these into Evernote.)
Scanning (Barbara Sher)
Pocket.com curates a variety of interesting articles.
Reading books (Kindle allows for clipping highlighted passages into Evernote.)
Ideas from Facebook
Google search for information on specific topics.
Output: Clipped into Evernote Inbox notebook as a reservoir of ideas.

PARSE: Is this an Anchor that I can build a post around?

Input: An Evernote from the Inbox notebook.
Examine notes in the Inbox one at a time. (Input)
What is this? (GTD question)
Is this an Anchor that I can build a post around?
Apply the MBA Test = SPRING
– Solution suggested?
– Problem that is intense, widespread?
– Reputable – respectable?
– Interesting to the market I’m targeting?
– New, innovative approach?
– God related?
No – Then “catch and release” – throw the Evernote back into the pond. Deleting insufficient anchor post quotes will rapidly decrease the backlog. This is a form of decluttering.

Yes – then Parse by adding A.PACT Evernote tags and QNQS template.
     A. Add Anchor Tag.
     P Project (Output Blog = WIP_Evernote notebook)
     A Author/source – optional.
             (a. for book authors,
              ? for common web sources – Inc, Forbes, etc.)
     C Category Destination (category on destination output blog)
     T Topic tags (t., h. prefix – Topic or How) – Optional
Bag: Move to Anchor_ Notebook in blog Work In Progress Stack (WIP)

PROCESS- Write Basic Draft = NIFTY. (The Bobsled Run) Rule: Edit in Evernote.
Input: an Evernote parsed with A.PACT.
–   Note: identify quote or quotes to use, initial thoughts:
–   Insert project template. (QNQS format.)
–   Fill in blanks in the template.
–   Tune up – polish and troubleshoot.
–   Yes: Ready to Publish by copying to blog?
If No, the review and rework.
If Yes, then
–   Copy text to blog post and title to the title field.
–   Assign Category. Add photo. Update Sources.
–   Fix any errors in appearance, fonts, typos.

OUTPUT – – Five Streams of Output = Each blog has writing projects within it which correspond to categories and subcategories within the general topic of the blog.
Five Blogs, starting local (across the street) and moving outward: CRAWL
–   Church: Kinmundy.Wordpress.com = a more effective specific local church.
–   RealityDisciplines.com = more effective individuals, starting with me. (Listicles project; generic common sense for human problems. Blogging. Productivity. Sleep (apnea). Diabetes (intermittent fasting).) 
–   AmbidextrousChurch.com = more effective and ambidextrous churches by blending disciple making movements with effective institutional churches. (Projects: dissertation paragraphs, Jesus Imperatives, disciple-making and more effective churches.)
–   WesleyUpdated.com = connect Wesley works with AmbidextrousChurch insights.
–   Lamentations – divorce, abuse, addictions, mental illness … For future consideration, too personal and difficult to consider now.
Each blog has writing projects within it which correspond to categories and subcategories within the general topic of the blog.

Four Step Revision process: SAD-BRAD.
“I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” —Roald Dahl.
SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.” ― Ambrose Bierce

SAD is the Scanning ->Anchor Post->Finished post process. BRAD is the rewriting & revision loop which fulfills the MBA purpose: “to add value to information from a variety of sources (input -> process), to provide innovative spoken and written solutions (product/output) for intense and widespread human problems (market), in harmony with God’s will (evaluative process). Posts “evolve” until they are mature and considered complete. Revision is the primary means by which value is added. A post that begins with a quote and a response eventually becomes an article. Revision involves ideas; editing focuses on each line. The plan is to set aside one day each week for revision, plus an additional day each month and each quarter.

Do … for each blog post to be revised:
– BACKUP the blog post to Evernote by clipping.
– REVIEW INTERVAL set. Next week, next month, next quarter, next year.
— “put manure around it” (Luke 13:6-9). Let it mature.
— Tag Blog post with next review date.
– ADD VALUE CYCLES – add value to information to enhance MBA Purpose.
— 1. Additional thoughts upon review?
— 2. Additional quotes that would be helpful? Use Evernote Context. Google search.
— 3. Need to upgrade to a more complex template?
– DUPLICATE changes from blog post to Evernote by clipping again.
Loop until the post feels completed … no more improvements.

There are five kinds of writing days: SAFER.
Scanning day: add new information to the backlog. Limit scanning.
Anchor parsing day: decrease the backlog.
Finish posts day: write in flow.
Editing and Revision days
Resting days. Rest is a weapon and you need to see it as a weapon. Rest is a sword in your hand and you can put to death, you can put to the sword; anxiety, lack of peace, unrest, fear, and so on and so forth…. This is a partnership here. Worry, anxiety, and fear are not going to go away by themselves. They need to be helped to leave the premises by themselves. They need some assistance. They need the left boot of fellowship…. Rest is a really serious business in the kingdom. [4] 

Blogging 103: Expert system: How do I ramp up this workflow to a higher level?

Blogging is instant publishing. The downside? No one reads your blog.

So, what do professional publishers contribute? A higher level of quality in your writing and, more important, they bring readers to your writing. If you are self-publishing, you will need to find ways to bring readers to your blog; this is called content marketing, and the best system I’ve found is that of Pamela Wilson, Vice President for Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital, which operates copyblogger.com. She has a writing template and encourages one post per week developed over a 4-5 day process. See it here: A System for Easily Publishing Consistently Great Content – A Pamela Wilson Series, Posted  January 30, 2017, at https://problogger.com/system-easily-publishing-consistently-great-content/ Her system is fully explained in her book, Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience.

Blogging 104 – Expert tools
Decrease Scanning Days – scan only every other day. Or less.
90/90/1 Rule by Robin Sharma: Spend the first 90 minutes of each day on your #1 project for 90 days.
Three Pomodoros per day = 90 minutes. Otherwise, life gets out of balance.
Write Your Ideal Days by Robin Sharma: journal how you imagine the day to happen.


[1] Hosting Stats and Facts For 2017, hostingfacts.com/internet-facts-stats-2016/

[2] More information on the Simple Rules process as three steps can be found here: Conquering Complexity With Simple Rules: A Stanford professor offers a better way to make decisions by Theodore Kinni/April 14, 2015, at https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/conquering-complexity-simple-rules

[3]  J. Frank Dobie, “A Texan in England”, 1945, according to Jimmy Stephens at https://www.quora.com/What-does-this-sentence-mean-The-average-Ph-D-thesis-is-nothing-but-the-transference-of-bones-from-one-graveyard-to-another.

[4] God Will Always Bless Your Rest, by Graham Cooke, at http://www.stevesevy.com/2012/07/god-will-always-bless-your-rest-by.html

The image “Flowchart Showing Driving to a Goal.png” is from Wikimedia Commons and has been placed in the public domain;  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flowchart_Showing_Driving_to_a_Goal.png

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