“How many words is the devotional?” the aspiring young author asked.
“Oh about 200 or 300, usually not more than that.” I answered.
“Well that shouldn’t be too hard. I think I could write devotionals. Maybe I’ll try that.” she rather flippantly responded. (Maybe the flippant part was my interpretation.)
And sounding like the true teacher, I replied, “But make each of the 200 words important and necessary."
The above conversation is imaginary, but has occurred in some form in the past.Being of the teacher mindset, here are three important hints I might give the fictional young woman of the conversation.
- Look at the requirements of each devotional publisher. Do they take electronic submissions? Only hard copy? Some publishers use the Lectionary (and if you don't know what that is, you need to find out). Or they select a biblical book for an entire issue. Some use only the NRSV translation. Follow their guidelines. (You can find guidelines online, by contacting the publisher, or in Sally Stuart's annual Christian Writers' Market Guide.)
- Focus on one single idea. Cec Murphey writes “ I ask myself, "What one noun best describes the material?" Is it forgiveness? compassion? commitment?" Make sure that you have not used any phrases or words that might detract from the single theme you have chosen.
- What is the takeaway value of these words? The devotional needs to relate a lesson you have learned about your focus point i.e. forgiveness, commitment, kindness. The devotional is not a personal story per se, but does illustrate or elaborate on your focus.
Devotions are not easy to write, but they do touch people with God's word and for me, that is one of the main reasons I write.
What is some advice you might give our beginning devotion author? I, too, would appreciate hearing.
Make certain you stay on focus.
I realized after reading this today that I should give credit to Cec Murphey and his www.cecmurpheyswritertowriter.blogspot.com deserves to be given credit for some of these ideas. I am a fan of Cec Murphey and read any advice or anything else he writes.