Friday, August 27, 2010

Writing Devotionals (Part 3 of 7)

With only 200 words (about one page, double-spaced), you can't expect to delve into deep truths. You can, however, suggest ways for readers to examine themselves and live happier lives.

Until you try, you probably won't realize how difficult devotional articles are to write. In the 1980s, I wrote devotionals for a variety of magazines. They don't pay much ($10 to $25) and some don't pay anything, but I loved the discipline. I couldn't use extra words, limp phrases, or repetitions. Every word had to justify itself. My first draft often hit 600 words and I had to delete two-thirds of the text and still retain the heart of the material. I loved the discipline.

Here's the next rule: You're forced to stay with one idea. Any good article does that, but if you write for this market, you become aware of sentences that may be interesting, but aren't germane to the topic you address, and you delete them.

One idea expressed well and succinctly:
That's the secret of writing devotionals.


  1. Dear Mr. Murphy,
    Thank you for your blog! To have someone willing to share a lifetime of learning the way that you do is such a tremendous blessing to people like me. As a Pastor's wife, your candid way of sharing, your humility and your servant's heart are what bless me the most. If I would be allowed, I would like to print your blogs and keep them in a notebook for further study. I am learning so much. I have a few months off during the winter and I am looking forward to reading some of your books and working on my writing skills. May God abundantly bless you from HIS riches in glory.


  2. Cyndi asked permission to print/keep my blogs. I give my permission. I'm quite happy to have anyone pass on anything from my blog, but
    1. Please ask permission. I wrote these words and I hold a common-law copyright. Not to ask is to steal.
    2. Please credit me with anything you print or pass on. And that applies to anything you copy from anyone's blog or email. Some maychoose to sign themselves as anonymous, but there are no anonymous writers.



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