With over 275 million books sold, his work translated into 40 languages, 9 Hollywood movies, and countless weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, John Grisham is undoubtedly one of the world’s most celebrated authors.
What you may not know is how it all started. Grisham was working in a small Mississippi law firm in 1981, but decided to set his alarm a little earlier every day to practice his hobby, writing fiction. That slot in his diary for many years laid the foundations for decades of unprecedented success.
I first heard that story 26 months ago. I remember it vividly. I’d always thought it would fun to write a novel, but knew I didn’t have time: what with children who wouldn’t sleep through the night, important family and work responsibilities, the demands of London life: impossible.
Then I listened to a talk by a superb leader named Bill Hybels entitled The Power of a Schedule. The premise was simple: use your time carefully, plan wisely. Mastering regular slots in the diary over a long period of time can lead to significant results.
He used examples like the person who plucked up courage to try an Alpha Course: eight evening slots in the diary to explore Christianity. It totally changed their life. Then there was the couple whose marriage was rekindled as a result of intentionally carving out time for each other. He talked of people whose inner lives were renewed because they decided to tackle their problems head on rather than busying themselves as a tactic to forget their troubles.
Hybels’ talk was so significant for his church that he ended up repeating the material a few years later and writing a book called Simplify, after seeing so many people change for the better. This book has inspired us to teach a similar series in April and May.
To be clear: when you read the title of the series, don’t think all we’re going to be talking about is cutting stuff out; dropping activities, so we can slump on the sofa and have a rest! That’s important, sure – and it’ll be included – but it’s deeper than that. We’ll look at how to live in such a way that we don’t get to the end of the year and all we can say is, “I survived!” We hope this series will help people thrive, rather than simply survive.
By the way – I decided to give Hybels’ challenge a go. The kids still cried, work remained busy, London life was still full-on, but I’m just starting my third book. It’s far from Shakespeare, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson:
“Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)
Image: New blank books with case binding that I just finished by Paperama, used under CC BY-NC 2.0