Just a little blog about me and mine.

Gettings Things Done-Wally B Style October 13, 2009

Filed under: books,theology — Katie @ 3:29 pm

Over the weekend I had a chance to meet and spend some time with a hero of mine, Walter Brueggemann. He is an Old Testament scholar, all around nice guy, and the author of 62 books. 62, can you imagine?! His book The Prophetic Imagination did whatever the theological equivalent of rocking my world is. It showed me how things could be different than they are, and gave me hope that we might be different. I brought my copy of this book with me to the conference, and in a quiet moment I asked him to sign it. While the two of us were there alone just chatting about politics and his new home town of Cincinnati, I asked if I could ask him a question I’d always wanted to ask him. Of course, he replied.


“How do you write so much? Tell me more about your work habits and how you seem to get so much done.”

I know from my seminary friends and colleagues that we’ve all wondered about this. He’s prolific, to say the least, and not only has he written a lot of books, he’s written a lot of really meaningful, insightful, thought-provoking and well-written books.

His reply? Just do a little bit everyday. As he elaborated, he shared that the always writes longhand since he doesn’t type fast enough to keep up with his thoughts. Then, he said if you write 8 pages every day, over time you’ve written a lot of pages.

On one hand, that sounds pretty simple. 8 pages a day seems manageable, right? But wait, I just spent 30 minutes writing a single paragraph! I’ve learned over time that when I write I average 2 pages an hour, so 8 pages would be 4 hours, of if you consider he writes longhand, that’s closer to 4 typed pages for 8 handwritten ones–a mere 2 hours a day, everyday I would need to spend writing. Yikes. (I definitely spend 2 hours most days either watching tv or goofing off online, I don’t need anyone to point that out).

It’s also clear that Brueggemann is also incredibly well read–ask him a question and he’ll answer with a book you need to read. There have been times when I felt like a really good writer, but it was an intense process, never sustained over a long time. Let’s be honest, mostly done between the hours of 11pm-3am in coffee shops the day before a paper was due. And in addition to the time set aside to write, it also took a lot of time to read and prepare. But to do that everyday? Over 40 years? So maybe it’s not so simple after all.

What I do know is that it gets easier the more you do it. My brain thinks faster, my hands move on the keyboard more accurately (that was real cute about WB writing longhand–but I can’t read my own handwriting, and no one else can either), and it’s easier for nice sounding phrases to come the more I work at writing. I think I have some talent for writing and this gift has been affirmed by teachers and professors over many years, but I certainly have less skill at doing something useful in my free time without a grade-imposed deadline (Hulu anyone?).

So starting tomorrow I will be intentionally cultivating my interest and ability for writing a little more by working through Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird with my friends in St. Mark’s Theology on Tap class. We’ll be writing, blogging and sharing our stories with one another through this journey. I thought about starting a separate blog for this but decided against it. So, whatever comes from those exercises will be posted here, and whatever else ends up here will get shared with them. I hope they like pictures of my dogs and are dying to know what I cooked for dinner.


One Response to “Gettings Things Done-Wally B Style”

  1. Julia Says:

    I love that he writes in longhand! I finally realized that I don’t keep up with journaling on paper because I write too slowly, I get bored by how long it takes me. I do much better with typing. And I can’t even type more than 45-50 wpm.

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