Monday, February 23, 2009

Why Bother with Writing Devotionals? - Mary Lou Redding

Let’s just get one thing out here up front: I admit that my opinion about the value of writing short meditations may not be entirely unbiased. But there are three reasons why writing for devotional magazines is a wise step, especially for beginning writers.

Reason #1: Editors are willing to take a chance with a new writer on short pieces.
Giving up one or two pages in a magazine represents much less production cost and editorial effort than preparing a book or even a long article.

Reason #2: Writers of devotionals can build a list of multiple publication credits relatively quickly.
All devotional magazines (I give out a market list in my workshop) need material, and if you can write effectively, to specification, you can publish in many of them.

Reason #3: Writing short pieces is a demanding exercise in craft that will sharpen your skills for writing longer pieces.
When someone says, “Writing short devotionals is easy; anybody can do it,” I know that person is either 1) a seasoned professional who has mastered the form over years or 2) that person has never published devotionals.

Anyone can write long. To write tight takes much more discipline. (Google Abraham Lincoln’s comments about how much time he would need to prepare a short speech versus a long one.)

My course on writing devotionals is really a course in the basics of writing well. Participants will learn about the characteristics of good Christian writing and, if they do the assignments, leave with a piece nearly ready to submit to a daily devotional magazine (not necessarily the one I work on – and you’ll learn the why of that in the workshop).

Writing devotionals opens a door to speak to many more people than will ever read the average Christian book. About two million people read The Upper Room each day in the United States alone (and many more internationally).

Open Windows, the Southern Baptist devotional magazine, and Living Faith, a Roman Catholic daily-devotional magazine, reach about three-quarters of a million people each.

Besides these, other devotional magazines reach hundreds of thousands more. If you have an insight that helps people apply a truth of the Bible to daily life, putting it into a devotional can have great reach. The workshop on writing devotionals will help you extend yours.

Mary Lou Redding is Editorial Director of The Upper Room Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you SO much for that...I absolutely LOVE writing devotionals and I can tell you that sometimes one single devotional (from 500-800 words) can take me up to two hours to prepare.

    There's a lot of research, background, preparation, and time involved in making it "just right".

    I really appreciate your words, support, and just made my day!

    Seeking JOY on the Journey,
    Melissa in Mel's World


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