Posts in Blogging
How Writing Can Improve Your Prayer Life

As I write, I’m preparing for a trip to Africa. By the time you read this, I’ll be sleeping under a mosquito net somewhere in Uganda. I could be going over my packing list one more time or making sure that my immunization list is complete.

Instead, I’m writing.

To my left on a comfortable chair is my dog, Ace. A loyal companion, Ace is nearly always at my side. Safe to say, he’s coauthored more than a few blog posts in the past year. He is a quiet editor and rarely criticizes story or syntax. He does occasionally chew on his paw.

My “office” for the next 15 minutes is my porch. A decent cup of coffee to my right, an iPad in front of me and an ugly green writer’s table- these are my tools. The table is small and my wife will probably have “repurposed” it by the time I return from my trip.

I look out the window. A rabbit is having breakfast on the front lawn. My neighbor’s truck is missing, a sign that he’s gone fishing (again). I’ve been up for an hour. Walked Ace. Brewed coffee. Said my prayers. Wrote in my journal.

Now, I’m at the writer’s table. I don’t want to be here or maybe I do. Writing for me is like exercise. If I think too much about it, it simply won’t happen. Instead, for me, it’s best to just dive in. Not that kind of dive they call a “pencil” jump. Rather, a headfirst-make-a-splash kind of thing. I’ve never been a great swimmer and my diving reflects that.

Still, I’m in the water. Ace relocates to another spot on the porch.

Most of the time, I’m writing under a cloud. The cloud is flooded with tension. Shall I write only about prayer today or add a pinch of productivity? Will my readers be turned off? What if this generates more ”claps” on Medium? What if it produces crickets?

Writers know that this cloud follows them. Sometimes it is generous enough to open up and bring about a clear sky. For me, most of the time, it just hangs around. I know it’s there. I simply need to write and pierce its presence. Screw you, I tell the tension. I’m writing and that’s that.

With my first book set to come out in 2019, my writing habit has paid off. The writer’s table. The affable canine. The habit. I still don’t think I’m any good at it but at least someone, a real publisher, does and it willing to put a cover on the thing. Part of me hopes no one will read it. I tell my parents that, by my third book, that’s when I’ll get good at it.

Writing has become a part of my life.

It’s still hard. I never wake up wanting to do it. I still feel like I’m a pathetic writer on any given day. But I press on. There are more words to write and more thoughts in my own head to clarify. I’m a selfish writer. I’d say I write about 90% for myself and the rest for the reader. At least I’m honest about it.

Surprisingly, I’ve found that writing helps with prayer.

There are too many similarities to make here. Suffice it to say that both need discipline. Both are about playing “the long game”. Neither gets noticed by the outside world. Both bring clarity to your thoughts and heart. Neither is glamorous. Both slow you down. Neither requires a special place. Both produce peace of mind.

The two also play nice together. Interestingly enough, my prayer and my writing have become intertwined. I journal (writing) as part of my morning prayer. I pray as I’m struggling to write. Lord, what am I really trying to say here? I mutter when the words don’t come out right. The prayer and the writing, they find a way towards one another. When people aren’t comfortable talking to God out loud, I tell them to write out their prayers. Game-changer for most.

Writing makes you a better pray(er) and I’m grateful for both practices. 

Which can you try today? 

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Emergent Leader Podcast Episode 18: How Blogging Makes You A Better Professional

In this episode of the Emergent Leader Podcast, I talk about how blogging isn't dead- in fact it's a sign of a true professional.  Companies that blog are more "with it" and will ultimately attract better talent.  For individuals too, blogging makes so much sense and in this episode, I explain why.  

Some helpful resources include:

PODCAST, BloggingMike StPierre
Top Blog Posts from 2014

2014 was a great year on the blog!  This was for three reasons:

  • The blog provided my public speaking with a number of ways to "link" workshops with bonus material on the site.
  • My mailing list grew week over week (always a good thing!)
  • My message became more clear than ever before (i.e. purpose and productivity)

To celebrate the year gone by, I've compiled my top posts.  As always, feel free to share these with someone that you feel could benefit from them.  Or, just scan a post or two that you didn't have a chance to read in the past year.  Thank you to everyone who made 2014 truly memorable!

  1. The App Every School Leader Needs for Making Better Decisions
  2. How to Avoid Miscommunication in Email
  3. My Interview for Productive Magazine
  4. How to Work with Purpose and Productivity 
  5. Imagine a Different Kind of December
  6. Podcast with Greg Dhuyvetter
  7. A Simple Technique for Gift Giving and Receiving
  8. How to be Wholehearted
  9. The 7 Signs of a Productive Person
  10. What I Learned from Catalyst Conference 2014

If you'd like to support the work we do on the blog, click here to sign up for a trial run of Nozbe.

BloggingMike StPierre
Purpose and Productivity: How I Found My Voice

Purpose and productivity.  Those are the two key words that sum up everything we (Ok it's just me!) do here on the blog.  What most people don't know is that the work I do today online took many iterations before I reached clarity.

Back in the late 1990's, my friend Allan Wright and I launched Catholic Ventures.  I used Frontpage to do the website and had nearly no idea what I was doing.  Our photos were stretched, of low quality and as for "blogging", it really didn't exist.   

Years later Allan would go on to become a successful writer and speaker and his new website was born.  It is a great homebase for folks to learn more about Allan and his niche- Scripture and how it impacts daily living.   Good stuff.

Trying to figure out what was "next" after Catholic Ventures, I launched The Daily Saint and puttered for years as a productivity blogger.  There were guest posts on LifeHack, Mike Vardy and other sites as a means of gaining exposure.  This was fun until I realized that, in the sea of big time websites, my little outfit might not make it. 

So I flipped the switch.  It was time to not abandon my "voice" and alter it just a bit.

I felt drawn to shift from productivity to writing about purpose in daily work.  I would link spiritual concepts to everyday aspects of work.  As the church at large does a pretty bad job (just my opinion here) in linking faith to work, this iteration of The Daily Saint was a genuine contribution to people's lives.  There were probably 10 people around the world talking about work and spirituality at the time.  It was a great time to be a writer with one exception: people didn't dig it.

Article after article and post after post.  The response from readers was loud enough- crickets.  My message, while a passion to me personally, wasn't resonating with readers. 

I realized over time that a change was needed.  Another shift in the works.  Turns out, other writers like Jeff Goins have made similar turns in their craft.  Jeff says that he had to create 7 or 8 different blogs until he found a voice that was a) unique and personal and b) connecting with readers.

And so the new site was born.  I rarely use the "Daily Saint" phase any more, preferring to build a brand around my own name.  Today's writing and speaking are all about two things: purpose and productivity.  As I look back, these two ideas summed up all of my prior work even though I didn't know it at the time. 

The hard part- I had to go through all of those chapters to be able to create the "book" that is unfolding today.  My voice is clear today but that's only because it wasn't before.  Is your message clear?  How about your sense of personal mission and calling?  

 For Follow Up

Where are you today in your career that you weren't at 5 years ago?  What paved the way for your current success (or even your current struggles)?  How are you stronger, more purposeful and more focused than you were last year or the year before? 

Write these responses down or simply type them up.  Then, share them with someone else.  You just might inspire them to keep trying.



Three Ways to Add Graphic Quotes to Your Blog

You've seen them all over- graphic quotes on blogs, on Facebook and even on Instagram.  Graphic quotes can take an ordinary quote and make it seem extraordinary and more significant.  They can be inserted into any social media platform and send folks back to your website.

Here are some of my favorites from the past week alone:

As you can see, each quote is simple, attractive and easy to grasp the concept.  

What if you wanted to use more graphic quotes in your various social media outlets?  How do you create a graphic like the ones shown above? Actually, it's becoming easier and easier.  In the "old days", you might use Photoshop or some other expensive program but not any more.

Here are three that I recommend:

  • Canva:  made popular by tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki, Canva is fast, easy to use and has tons of beautiful pre-made templates. The only catch is that if you want to download what you make, you'll have to pay for it in most cases.
  • Quotes Cover: free and easy to use, Quotes Cover lets you choose one of your own quotes or search their database for thematic quotes and then design away.
  • BeHappy:  the simplest of the three options, BeHappy not only lets you create social media-ready graphics but you can also see what it might look like on a t shirt or mug.  

Here's an example of a graphical quote I made recently:

The question is- how are you using graphical quotes to draw people into your website and promote your platform and brand?

Less is More: Why Fewer Words are Best

In a recent newsletter (click here if you aren't yet a subscriber, just sayin'), I spoke about the value of being brief.  In emails, voicemails, even in conversations.

This was born out of several meetings last week in which everyone, and I mean everyone, felt the need to publish every idea.  The result- hours of added meeting time when we could have been with our families and friends.  

So here's the scoop- 

My conclusion: there is more noise than ever and it's made us all very, very chatty.  This of course is sucked into the vortex of "online living" and less towards those we see in person.  (Unless of course you're in one of my meetings last week!)

Speaking digitally, the data points to an emerging need to:

  • Get to the point.
  • Be brief.
  • Let folks do their work.

What can you do to use fewer words and still get your message across?

Photo courtesy of fdp