How to Write a Devotion

My last guest blogger this month on nonfiction is Jamin Baldwin. I met Jamin through meetings of my ACFW chapter. She discusses the lessons she’s learned in writing the special kind of nonfiction that devotions are. Welcome, Jamin!

How to write a devotion?

Having written and published over a hundred devotions, perhaps the best way to tell you how to write a good devotion is to tell you what not to do. After writing as many as I have, and fumbling your way through some monumental blunders, you’ll discover there are some ‘donts’ as well as ‘dos’.With so much advice and mountains of suggestions to wade through, it might be equally important to know what to leave out of your devotion, as it is to concentrate on what to add.

Here is what time, and error has taught me. . .

First, Don’t Criticize.

Yes, I know it seems more direct to scold, but your audience quickly lose their hearts and the book the moment they feel you pointing the proverbial finger. Make sure to end on a positive note. Never let your audience leave feeling as though they have been chastised. Rather take the time to tell them what you felt and learned from the experience. Encourage them to take a different route than you chose.

Second, Don’t Ramble.

Choose a point you want to make and don’t “scatter shoot”, as my grandmother used to say. Of course, you could make several wonderful points in your devotion . . . but, choose one and stick to it. But jot down the other ideas. They could be another devotion, a series, or perhaps even bloom into a full fledged devotional.

Lastly, Don’t Change Your Voice.

Too many times I see people trying to write like someone else. While we all squeeze ourselves into the box labeled, ‘submission guidelines’, we must never compromise our own voice in writing. You don’t need to be someone else. There is already one of those. God believes this world needs a you- So let your voice be heard.

Not only are those great posts for writing devotions, I think they are good advice for writing of any kind, especially about sticking to the voice God gave you. Thanks for stopping by, Jamin!


Jamin Christian Baldwin is a wife and mother of three from SE Ohio. Her love of nature and God is combined in her devotions in a parable about life. Third place winner of the 2019 BRMCWC foundation awards, Jamin does her best to share the love of God and the lessons she has learned with others. She is also a VBS designer and curriculum writer, Sunday School teacher and active member of ACFW-Ohio chapter. You can find her stories and devotions on her Facebook Author Page.

Interview Yourself

In Gail Johnson’s post on nonfiction writing, she recommended turning what you already know a lot about into nonfiction articles. This approach also works for inspiring fiction. Interview yourself to discover ideas for both your fiction and nonfiction.

For example, I love horses. It’s easy for me to create characters who work with horses. It’s a subject I’m already interested in.

Schedule an interview with yourself, which shouldn’t be hard these days. Below is an interview Me did with Myself. You can borrow my questions or come up with ones of your own. Once you complete your interview, I’d love to see your answers in the comments.

Me: So glad you could work me into your schedule.

Myself: I will always make time for such a close friend. What do you want to know?

Me: What topics do you think you are an expert in?

Myself: First of all, writing, especially how to write a short story. Next, I have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Hollywood movies from the Golden Age. Right now, my focus has been watching film noir. I’ve also read hundreds of mystery short stories, mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries. I’d feel comfortable writing about those topics.

Me: What topics would you like to learn more about?

Myself: Nature. So that when I go for a walk, I know what I’m looking at. I’ve been learning over the years because my kids are interested in it, and I’ve given them books on the subject. I’m also fascinated by police and how they works. It’s a life very different from anything I’ve known. I’ve been doing research in this area for my WIP novel.

Me: What are your hobbies?

Myself: Hiking or just walking. I try to walk every day. Biking. I like to bake but don’t do it enough. I love to sled in the winter. Photography, usually taking pictures of nature.

Me: What do you like to read?

Myself: Mysteries, any kind, adult or YA, 19th, 20th or 21st centuries, short stories or novels, contemporary or historical. As along as it’s a good mystery, I’ll read it. I like to read fantasy and science fiction short stories. In nonfiction, I’ll read anything that I’m interested in. I’ve read a lot about classic movies and theology. I also love humor, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

Me: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.

Myself: No problem. Come back any time.

Turning Points in Our Lives

Turning points in our lives. We’ve all had them. Often we don’t realize what they are until a lot of time has passed. At other times, we recognize turning points in the moment we make a decision and/or take an action. Considering turning points in our own lives can prompt us to create turning points for our characters.

I had two in quick succession as a new mother and realized what they were as they were happening. During the first week with my first child, I became very anxious about his health — I can’t remember specifically what I was worried about. But I told myself if I started worrying now, I’d never stop. So I had to stamp out my worries.

The second turning point came as I tried to soothe my fussy baby, and it hit me that I was IT. The mother. The only one who could help my child. Nobody could do it but me. I had to figure how to comfort my child, or he would remain upset. That realization was as startling as getting smacked upside the head with mallet. But it made me truly a mother.

What turning points have you faced? Have you tried to work them into a story?

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