Are you ready for it? You’ve been wanting it your whole life, that one secret that will make all the pain, sweat and hard work of communication disappear into oblivion. You’ve always wanted to know that one shortcut, that one tip, that makes everything else extraneous. It’s what every reader wishes you would put into your writing. It’s what every listener wishes you’d put into your preaching. It IS the difference maker between effective and ineffective communication.
The secret is…
Effective communicators work hard. They rewrite over and over and over and over again. They rewrite their sermons. They rewrite their essays. They rewrite entire books, multiple times. It’s so devastating to me when I read someone’s debut novel and think, “This person is incredibly talented, and this book could have been as good as they are…if they had re-written it 2-3 times.”
Roald Dahl admitted he rewrote/altered/edited his first chapters 150 times before he reached the last.
Michael Crichton rewrote his novels in entirety 6-7 times each.
Hemingway rewrote the ending to “Farewell to Arms” 39 times.
Tim Keller spends 5 hours a week researching a sermon, 5 hours writing it, then 5 hours re-writing it for speech communication.
Mark Dever spends 30+ hours a week crafting and re-crafting a manuscript for his Sunday sermons.
John Stott encourages young preachers to “get something on paper” sooner rather than later, for the purpose of rewriting, again and again.
And that takes 2-3x the time most communicators are willing to put into their work. But in communication, it’s the dividing line between average and awesome. There are no well-written books, only well re-written books. There are no well-crafted sermons, only well re-crafted sermons. If you want to be an effective communicator, take your grandpa’s advice: there’s no substitute for plain, hard work. Are you willing to pay the price?