I had the privilege of interviewing Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Stuff Christians Like, Quitter and the soon-to-be-released Start. He is an amazing young man who struggled through eight jobs in eight years before he found his dream job as a writer and speaker. But as he will tell you, those are simply titles. The essence of his work is that he is called to help people. I will discuss his work more thoroughly in an upcoming newsletter.
While Jon wanted to be a writer since he was a child, he began his most recent work when he saw a blog called Stuff White People Like. He took that concept and developed a blog called Stuff Christians Like through which he holds a mirror up to Christians and the way we carry out many aspects of our faith.
One of the questions I asked Jon was about his specific writing process. As a writer, I’m always curious as to how other writers (especially those who are way more successful than me) approach their work. He explained that he uses a process called I.C.E., “since, in the world of personal development, we must always use an acronym.”
Here’s what I.C.E. means.
Imagine. The first step in writing is the creative process. Lots of people are good at this because we can usually come up with great ideas for a blog, book, newsletter, etc. But what often happens is that the creative process is interrupted by the self-editing process. The self-editing process is that voice in our heads that says, “This is not really a good idea. Nobody is going to read that. Shouldn’t a comma go there?” And when we hear our internal editor, we tend to shut down and lose the creative energy. So, we must ignore the editor and stay in the creative zone.
Capture. This is the point in the process when we capture the good and creative ideas. We write them in a notebook, file them in a database, or put them under our mattress. No matter what tool we use to save them, we must capture our ideas. Every great writer will tell you that no matter how good an idea is, if you don’t write it down, you won’t remember it.
Execute. Finally, it’s time to put the ideas into action and write. This is when Jon turns off the email, stops surfing the internet, and just writes. It’s laser focus time and that focus is what leads to a finished product. And Jon’s product is really good.
What I love about Jon’s work is that it directly relates to the Do it Well. Make it Fun. philosophy. The excellence comes from his knowledge of the process and what he needs to do to arrive at his goal – whether it’s a tweet, a blog, or a book. The fun part comes from his naturally wicked sense of humor. As he writes, he is writing, uh, goodly and adding a great deal of humor along the way.
Next time you have a writing project, consider Jon’s I.C.E. formula.
And the next time you want to read something that’s well written and fun, check out his blogs.