This is the 619th article I have written for the Marietta Times since February 2000 and I have authored or contributed to 11 books and published nine national journal articles.
Twenty-five years ago, I would not have enjoyed such endeavors. The advent of the computer enhanced my enjoyment of writing and my confidence in my writing ability.
Four years ago I was president of the National Speakers Association (NSA) of Ohio. Last Sunday, I attended its meeting in Columbus at the Crown Plaza hotel. The speaker was Chris Clarke-Epstein. She is a national past president of NSA who speaks regularly to members on different topics. Sunday, she spoke on writing. Chris has written 13 books on the dynamics of change, dealing with conflict, and building real consensus and has been published by McGraw Hill and AMACOM Books.
Chris took the 70 members present through several writing exercises. First, she asked us to write for four minutes on the phrase "Find the music." I wrote about my son and his violin. When he was young he would play for me pieces he wrote punctuated with pauses. During the pause, I told him a story that I found in his music. He continued and when he stopped again, I continued my fabricated story. We both laughed deeply as the story took quirky turns.
Chris suggested the phrase for this practice writing session could come from anywhere. You could put your finger down on any page of this newspaper and find an interesting phrase to use.
Next, she asked us to write a picture. I wrote about the time my grandmother and my brother Jack, and I searched the slope above our pond for ginseng on a dry fall day. Grandmother called it "Sang" and always said five leaves and red berries and you know it is "sang." As a little girl from East Tennessee, the annual ginseng hunt netted enough money to put winter shoes on nine children and food in the cellar. Jack and I had to push her back up the hill, one brother on each cheek.
Finally, Chris asked us to write a series of questions we get during our speaking engagements. A peer reviewed these questions and chose one. Then we wrote for four minutes on that question.
These three questions can help you begin writing, write more graphically, and write about topics important to you. Chris also had five points for writing a book.
Not all leaders love to write or even need to write. However, documenting your life's learnings whether professional or personal can be valuable for your organization and/or your family.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.