Friday, August 20, 2010

Writing Inspirationals, Devotionals, and Meditations (Part 1 of 7)

“I experience more than I understand," a friend said, attributing that statement to John Calvin. I would add, "And I understand those experiences even more when I reflect on them." One way to reflect on life is to write about it in what we call inspirational, devotions, or meditations.

Because most of you who subscribe write for the Christian market, I'll use the word devotionals, but the words are interchangeable.

Magazines and ezines are the primary buyers of inspirational thoughts. Some magazines devote themselves totally to this. Unity publishes Daily Word; the Methodist Church provides the most well-known, Upper Room; and four denominations produce These Days. I'll discuss books in my next post.

Writing devotionals is more than making sense of what happened. It's also an opportunity to use insightful moments to touch others who can learn and profit from your insights. If that sounds like personal experience, it can be just that. But there are differences.

The devotional format has a strict word limit, usually around 200 words. Personal experience articles can go from 800 to 1800 words, depending on the publisher. For this specialized format, the rule is to "write tight."

In my early career, I wrote many devotions because I considered them an excellent form of self-discipline. I could have no extra words. From writing those limited-word articles I learned more about succinct writing than I did from any other way.

You can write tight.
Practice doing it.


  1. I agree! Writing devotionals has caused me to get to the point, eliminating my tendency to embellish, embellish and embellish with flowery words. I am writing a daily (Yep, I said DAILY!) devotional as a result of asking God for discipline in my writing. I just posted #148. Is it a challenge? Some days, but I love every minute of it.

  2. Nan,

    Thank you for summing up much of what I've been saying on these posts.

    I enjoy responses like yours.


  3. Goodness, I have so much yet to learn. I am the Queen Wordy Writer! I do love sharing my heart, and what God has been working within me through my writing for others to read and experience, but I am beginning to see that shorter less flowery posts would probably be just as effective instead of sharing a 'War & Peace' sized post with everyone.

    Thank you for writing posts like these, Cecil!


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