Thinking Out Loud

January 21, 2014

The Highest Form of Flattery

Filed under: blogging, writing — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:13 am

Somewhere in the last decade, there was a year or two (or maybe three) where we would download each and every fresh sermon from Rob Bell, convert them to disc, and play them back in the car on long trips.

Some of you disagree theologically with Bell on a thing or two (or maybe three) but his speaking style was unique.

And distinct.

And uniquely distinct.

I don’t know to what degree it might have been noticeable, but if I were asked to speak somewhere, I’m sure there were elements of that speaking style that crept into my own, not unlike the person who spends two weeks in London and returns to Houston with the slightest hint of an accent beginning to form.

More recent downloads at our house include Greg Boyd and Andy Stanley, but Bell’s homilies were always a mix of prose and poetry. Disagree though you might, he is always engaging to listen to. He knows how to get people talking.

It’s the same with writing. I tend to take on the style of the person I’ve been reading most recently. Frankly, if you’re an aspiring writer, or even an aspiring blogger, I can’t stress the value of reading good writers; of reading the best. Want to write better? Then read more.

Oswald J. Smith built Toronto’s Peoples Church into Canada’s first — and for a long time only — megachurch. When he was away on missionary trips, some of which encompassed months at a time, his philosophy was to always book guest speakers that he felt were better than himself.  If you’re an aspiring teacher or preacher, I can’t stress the value of listening to great speakers; of going out of your way to hear the best, especially hearing them in person.

Every Friday night, I have a ritual of catching up with the blog, Best of YouTube. I’ve noticed however that my never-diagnosed ADHD self is most reluctant to commit to videos longer than about four minutes. I tend to watch the short ones and skip the long ones, which lately have been getting much longer. My attention span doesn’t lend itself to War and Peace or a ten-part series on A&E. For that reason, I minimize my own potential to return to school and get that coveted Masters degree, nonetheless I am committed to lifelong learning. I absorb knowledge — and ideas — like a sponge. Books fill the shelves in various rooms, at times lining the stairs; my computer is literally choked with bookmarked articles; and the aforementioned sermon discs fill several spools.

Read the best.

Listen to the best.

To borrow (and misuse) a term from the HTML side of computing, I look for rich text. In computer parlance, rich text refers to text that has been ornamented through bold face, color, underlining, a change of font, use of italics, subscripts, superscripts, and enlargement.

Rich text in speaking or writing could mean something just as intricate and interesting, but I use it to refer to content that is enriched, through cross-reference, powerful illustration, authoritative delivery, passion, and thought-provoking ideas. We live in a time-starved world, so don’t settle for fluff.

And… if you find yourself parroting someone else’s style in your speech or composition that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it might be called the highest form of flattery.

January 16, 2012

Need a Writer or Editor?

As we move into the next chapter, my wife and realize the need to look for other sources of income, since our long-term model of being self-supporting missionaries though owning a bookstore is no longer commercially viable.  So we’re introducing something — actually re-introducing — that we’ve already been doing for many years.

Introducing Corosbolting Advertising, Editorial and Copy Services

Introducing what?  The name is a story in itself. But first let’s define what we’re offering here.  Both my wife and I love to write. Get the two of us in a room and we can craft something truly excellent for a client who is willing to pay.  But we’re often not in the same room, because we have different specialties. 

Ruth shines in two areas that are kind of at opposite ends of the writing spectrum.  The first is accuracy; she’s done medical transcriptions, worked for a lawyer, and finalized drafts for a number of theses including a 300-page doctoral thesis for the head of well-known national charity.  But at the other end of that spectrum, she’s an artist who knows how to turn simple ideas into stories, poems and songs.

I fill in the middle of the spectrum and aim for practical and pragmatic communication. I look for concision in writing and words that are going to be effective in conveying ideas and motivating action or change. If I write something, I want it to reflect the passion of the person in the story or my own excitement about the topic at hand. In other words, I use more italics than she does.

Some projects we’ve done in the past 12 months included

  • a study guide on the book of Revelation (proofreading, editing) for a U.S. author with several titles already in print
  • fundraising letters for an international Christian charity in Florida (proofreading, re-formatting)
  • a full length book manuscript on prayer and inner healing (an ongoing project assisting the author in shaping the final product)

Additional, there is blogging with over 3,500 posts online (as of this writing 1842 here, 1021 on my book industry blog, 656 at Christianity 201, and 179 at five other blogs I write or administer). 

However, we tend to do a lot of this work for free — it’s easy to always fall into a missionary mindset — and while it’s not my intent to monetize Thinking out Loud, I do want to reintroduce our services here because, basically, we need to stop doing things for free!  (See Matthew 10:10) However, I do need to add that our preference is to work that furthers Christian causes, charities, justice issues, etc.

So, if you or your organization need something done, connect with us. We also have an organization we work with should your need include website development, including search engine optimization.

Now then… about the name.  We actually work under the business name Searchlight, but we fell in love with the word ‘corosbolting’ the first and only time we ever saw it used. A long time ago in a galaxy far away, a pastor needed his doctoral thesis typed, and gave his church secretary his multi-page, but entirely hand-written draft. Unable to read his writing in various places, she guessed, and on one scribble that just refused to form any word she knew, she guessed again and came up with ‘corosbolting.’

We’ve been in love with that word ever since, because it represents what you don’t need and don’t want when you hire a writer or editor.  So we promise not to use it. Unless you insist.

August 18, 2010

Wednesday Link List

This was a week for reconstructing the blogroll here.   “Oh, Oh, The Places You’ll Go” lists all the things that are NOT blogs, along with, for a limited time, a description of each one on-screen — you don’t even have to mouse hover — which for some strange reason Made Every Word Start With A Capital Letter.

The actual blogs are now found further down in a new section called “Blog Stops.”

And now on to this week:

Blog at