Christmas Letters – I

I’ve been having huge trouble with the letter ‘I’ (the letter ‘S’ tomorrow isn’t much better). This is day 4 in my Christmas Letters series and so we’ve done C, H and R and are up to I.

It took me a long time to get some inspiration for what the letter ‘I’ could be for… and then it hit me.

I is for Inspiration (or Illustrations)

A few years ago, I read the book Refining Your Style: Learning from Respected Communicators by Dave Stone, which I highly recommend to anyone who ever speaks in public.

I learned two important things from that book:

  1. What my speaking style is
  2. That it’s OK to have my speaking style

It’s easy to look at other communicators and wish we were more like them, but in reality, we all have our own style and it’s way better to master our own style than try to force ourselves to communicate in a way which doesn’t come naturally to us.

Although I’ve referred to it as a speaking style, the term ‘communicating style’ is more accurate because our style doesn’t really change depending on whether we are talking, writing or communicating in any other manner.

My speaking style is one of taking real-life illustrations and marrying them to a principle which I want to teach or discuss.

Take for instance, the TV show ‘The Event’.

If you don’t watch The Event, then in essence it’s a show about a group of human-looking aliens stranded on earth for 60+ years, looking for a way to get home.

Something in a recent episode really spoke to me and started my writing processes whirring in my head.

In brief:

The leader of the group of aliens sat down with her people to get an update on how close they were to finding a way home and some of the group members seemed a little reluctant to respond. When asked why, it turned out that many of the aliens had started to really like living on Earth and wanted to stay.

They liked their lives and had gotten comfortable living the way they were and they simply weren’t interested in the fact that they had all sworn to go home as soon as possible and not to get enmeshed in human society.

It’s a made up story, obviously, but there was a truth to the situation that they were in which really reflects in my own life.

As Christians, we are no longer of this world. We’re ambassadors, sojourners here, just passing through on our way home, yet I and many others of us have become comfortable and want to focus on building our lives here. We’ve taken our eyes off of the goal, forgotten who we are and chosen instead to just blend in to society.

Making connections like that between what I see and read in fiction and the reality of our own situations is part and parcel of my communicating style and it happens to me almost daily.

In 2010… Not So Much

Well… most of the time it does. 2010 has not been a good year for inspiration and illustrations. Where sometimes I can’t go more than a few hours without being inspired by a new illustration I’ve thought up from something I’ve seen or heard, this year I’ve gone days or even weeks with seemingly no inspiration.

This series is about looking back over 2010 and reflecting on what has happened to me over the past twelve months and this year has very much been characterized by a lack of inspiration and difficulty coming up with illustrations.

That I’m managing to come up with inspiration for a Christmas Letter a day at the moment is hopefully a sign that those days are past and ‘normal’ service will soon be resumed!

What’s your ‘speaking style?’ Have you had a good year for inspiration this year?