The Hensley Plan

On my 30th birthday (a year and a half ago) I made a committed to pursue the dreams and talents that I have in a more focused way during the next 30 years of my life.

Since I was a kid I have wanted to teach and to write. I didn’t want to write books for the sake of books or write for the sake of proving the wealth of my intelligence. I wanted to write because I wanted to be like Thomas Paine. I want to write the pamphlet, or paper, that starts a revolution.

Even to this day it’s often on my mind. I have a stack of 30 notepads in my desk filled with ideas, stories, and musings birthed in times of prayer and studying the word. I pray, fast, seek God’s heart because I love Him, but with the added request that He use me as an instrument to prophecy His heart to this generation.

Stack of journals and notebooks

When I turned 30 I had some time to reflect. In reflection I realized that while I was putting forth the effort in dreaming, praying, and some study about being a teacher/ writer. I needed to implement some practical disciplines in order to make it happen. I was reminded of Thomas Jefferson and Jonathan Edwards’ plans. Jefferson would spend 12 hours a day studying and writing. He broke down each hour of the day by subject he would study, and the subjects were vast in genre. Edwards very similar. So I came up with a plan that I knew would take a few years to get going, but if I kept aiming for it I figured I could build the discipline by the time I was 35. Here is that plan:

1. Read a Book a week.

2. Write 3,000 words a day. (on anything. It can be journaling. But it has to be in a proper writing format.)

3. Write a book a year.

I share this for 2 reasons, both are selfish.

First reason, I know the more I talk about this online the more folks ask me about it, therefore the more I’m challenged to stay the course.

Second reason, I want to challenge other writers/ teachers/ leaders to take on the challenge. Not just because it’s a great discipline, but like the first, the more folks who are doing it and talking about it the less I am let off the hook.

At 31 years old I have 4 more years to nail this down. I’m probably at a book every 2 weeks and 3,000 every 3 days. While I have written an outline for a book, I have little hope of it being finished this year. The point isn’t to be perfect at it, the point is to aim for it. If this is always the aim, and I don’t quit after failing to do it the first year, I have a chance at living up to it.

So take the Hensley Challenge and let me know about it, so we can push each other to be excellent!


At Least I’m in Good Company?

It’s no secret, I’m a horrible speller. It’s not that I don’t know how to spell, but that my brain often thinks faster than I can type or write. I’ve worked hard the last couple of years to slow down when I write, and pay better attention to details like “i before e” or using the correct “their, there, they’re” or “Your, You’re”. Still when I’ve sat down to write, re-read my writing, then re-read aloud. Somehow I still miss mistakes. Spelling efficiency becomes my white stag, impossible to catch no matter how are I try.

I aim to ever improve this deficiency, but for now I intend to offer myself and my contemporaries in spelling ineptitude a bit of solace. I present to you famously successful writers who were also deficient in spelling.

1. William Faulkner He enters the history of literature with a powerful legacy. Even if we’re just talking about The Sound and the Fury alone. However just like your’s truly, he lacked the detailed eye to spell words correctly. Here’s a quote from one of his editors at Random House, Albert Erskine, “I know that he did not wish to have carried through from typescript to printed book his typing mistakes, misspellings (as opposed to coinages), faulty punctuation and accidental repetition. He depended on my predecessors, and later on me, to point out such errors and correct them; and though we never achieved anything like a perfect performance, we tried.”

2. F. Scott Fitzgerald Epic writer? Successful writer? Ever hear of the Great Gatsby? Sit back and let out a deep commiserate sigh knowing that he too was widely known as a horrible speller. The Preeminent American literary critic Edmund Wilson described This Side of Paradise as “one of the most illiterate books of any merit ever published.” Yet it’s Fitzgerald who is the celebrated author and creator, and Wilson who gets his name known not by creating but by commenting on what has been created. Another win for the bad spellers.

3. John Keats You can’t call your self a poet without having some Keats somewhere on your shelf. Great writer. Inspiring. Considered by all a horrible speller including his girlfriend of sorts Fanny Brawne. Keats wrote her a poem and spelled the color purple, purplue. It became a well known story because it illustrated his constant inability to spell. So in essence you can chalk up my spelling maladroit to me just wanting to be like the ever brilliant John Keats.

4. Jane Austen She’s basically a household name. Penning a prolific number of period dramas that later changed the culture of romance in the hearts of conservative women everywhere. She successfully managed to craft the man of every woman’s dreams in Mr. Darcy while destroying the heart of every editor in the same swoop of her pen. She was widely considered an aweful speller. Many of her books came out years after she had passed simply because editors didn’t know what to do with the wretched construction of subjects and verbs. She once misspelled one of her works as Love and Freindship and is infamously known for always spelling scissors as scissars.

5. Ernest Hemingway Finally one of my favorite authors, who writing has inspired me through the years as a writer. Every one of his books and newspaper articles were considered disastrous. I heard a joke, which I’m sure isn’t true, that when we submitted one of his more famous books, the title read: Old Man and the See. Brilliant craftsman and storyteller, awful in spelling and grammar. Whenever his newspaper editors complained about it, as they often did, he’d retort, “Well, that’s what you’re hired to correct!”

While no one should overlook the discipline and need to spell and organize sentences correctly in writing. At least there is a little comfort that those of us who are spelling handicapped can still pursue the dream of writing.