5 Tips to Help You Write Better Devotions
You want to write something, but you don't know where to start or how to write something that matters to your readers.
My first published devotion showed up in a Christian magazine in 2014, and I earned a whopping check of $20 for it.
Since then, I've learned a LOT, and I want to share all of my secrets with you.
Ready to write better devotions? Here's where you can start...
1. Show Up Scared
The only thing that makes writing and sharing your writing easier, is to keep doing it. Even though I've had published work in multiple places, I still get scared every single time I click "send" on Threshold, and every time I click "submit."
It feels like you're ripping out a little piece of your heart and saying, "hey, do you like it?" to some strangers on the internet. It's scary. What will your mother in law think? What will your cousin think? That's scary.
But do you know what's even more scary? Keeping a message that God placed in your heart hidden because you're afraid.
"Perfect love casts out fear," and I promise when you show up scared, you will not regret it.
More often than not, you'll be met by grace and love, and you'll be so surprised by how God can use your words to change someone's day, or maybe even the course of their life. Show up scared.
2. Practice Appropriate Vulnerability
Writing nonfiction is hard. But it's also incredibly rewarding. The best stories will always be the ones God writes in my opinion, and so I love taking a creative approach to retelling His story in my life on the page.
The biggest threat to being successful in writing true stories is simply not striking that perfect balance in vulnerability.
It probably feels vulnerable already to share a bit of your story, but you can find an appropriate way to do this.
Finding this balance takes practice and lots of rereading and rewriting. I've told lots of stories about quitting my job, finding my calling, and pursuing God given dreams. When I share those things, it's vulnerable. I don't need to tell you the deep details of my life, the kind of pain and hurt I would only share with my absolute closest friends, but I can share enough so that you relate to the pain and can see God's redemption in it.
Jesus spoke to His 3 closest disciples, His twelve disciples, and to crowds. Read through the gospels and notice how His tone and vulnerability changes in those settings, and changes even more when He's speaking to His Father.
Some things God has taught you might just be for you and God, when writing a devotion keep in mind you're writing for the crowds.
Be relatable and approachable, but don't pour your heart out when it isn't meeting the criteria of the next point...
3. Serve your Reader, not Yourself
More often than not, when you're being overly vulnerable, you might be focusing on serving yourself instead of serving your reader.
Always, always, always, ask yourself as you write, "who am I serving in this?"
Some of my best writing comes out of my deepest pain, but sometimes those things stayed tucked away in a journal for later. Writing from open wounds often creates content that is self-serving. The same can be said from teaching or sharing about big miracles God has worked in your life. Are you truly testifying about what God has done for you, or are you trying to show off a little bit?
Be honest in your writing about who it is for. If it's for you, it's not a devotion. If it's for your reader to draw near to God, then I cannot wait to read it!
Bonus tip: Do you notice how I write directly to you? This makes my writing sound approachable, and intimate. There are tons of people reading this write now, but you probably feel like I'm writing it just to you. That's because I want to serve you, dear reader. (:
4. Stick to the Point (only ONE point...)
One verse in the Bible can be applied hundreds of different ways. Sometimes, I'm writing a devotion and I notice I could take it in multiple different directions. As you write, you might notice the same thing. That's amazing, but it means you have multiple devotions.
Pick one point, and focus on it. If you focus on multiple takeaways you will notice that as you read it over it becomes overwhelming and you don't know what to take away from it.
You want your reader to be able to read your devo in a few minutes, and then be able to easily summarize it in one sentence.
If you can't summarize it in one sentence without making multiple points, it's a sermon, not a devotion.
5. Do your Research
You don't have to be a Bible scholar to write devotions, and you don't even have to be a Bible expert. Devotions are meant to lead someone into a deeper relationship with God, with a clear action step and maybe a new insight or revelation. It doesn't need to be teaching to be a successful devotion, actually most don't include any teaching.
But, you should make sure you can back up your thoughts with scripture.
If you want to see this done poorly, just take a quick scroll through your social media feed. There are lots of Christian accounts making claims that aren't backed up by the Word of God. You don't need to do an in-depth study of the Word to bring a thoughtful revelation to the table, but you do need to make sure the Word of God backs up what you're saying.
I had an incredible encounter with God one night in worship, and I wanted to write about it. I went to Bible Gateway and researched verses with keywords to make sure what I felt like God spoke to me was somewhere in scripture. It was! That confirmed my experience, made it even more valuable to me, and allowed me to share it with others while leading them toward Jesus.
These are my best practices for writing devotions! What do you think? Were any of these tips new to you?
For more specific questions feel free to reach out over Instagram, I'm always in my DMs (: