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Broadcasting with Purpose and Intent

Before I interned at South Carolina Public Radio, “intimate” and “people-oriented” were the last words I’d use to describe the broadcasting organization. My picture of public radio included stuffed shirts, pressed pants, and dull voices. All news reports were robotic, lacking the warm relatable touch humans can bring to stories.

Now, I’ve been wrong many times in my life before, but it’s rare I’m quite this wrong.

Public radio’s foundation is built on the community that serves as its audience. The reporters, programmers, and crew who toil day after day chasing the news dedicate themselves to providing their audience content that is informative, objective, and engaging. It takes an undeniable human touch to achieve such a goal. Through producing stories alongside the team at South Carolina Public Radio and receiving mentorship from News Director John Gasque, I learned how much work goes into ensuring the public radio broadcasts are transparent and relevant.

Interning at South Carolina Public Radio gave me a behind-the-scenes look at some of the daily challenges journalists face. Besides finding story concepts, it’s crucial that reporters’ stories be inclusive and nuanced. Failing to address the impact a story might have on often-neglected communities is inexcusable. Public broadcasting is a state- and donor-funded initiative intended to inform the public and be a source they can trust. Anything less would compromise the purpose of its existence.

Besides providing an appreciation for the importance of public broadcasting, working at South Carolina Public Radio gave me practical experience. First was a thorough explanation of the standards South Carolina Public Radio abides by. I learned the best ways to capture high-quality audio as well as take pictures with an HD [high-definition] camera. I found out what kind of human interest stories resonate with a  South Carolina audience and received tips on scripting said stories in a way that engaged them.

People have criticized internships for failing to provide opportunities to learn and instead supplying interns with an endless amount of busy work, but I was granted the opposite experience as an ETV Endowment intern. My supervisor made it clear that he treated all his interns like employees. I would be subject to the same standards as every other employee in the building. That precedent kept me focused on my work and helped me realize how interested the employees of South Carolina Public Radio were in giving me the best possible learning experience.

This internship gave me a new perspective on life in general. God calls those who believe in Him to be authentic. He asks them to be mindful and caring of others. South Carolina Public Radio aspires for integrity and compassion in daily reporting. In an age where journalism, and specifically news media, are constantly scrutinized, public radio perseveres in factually reporting the news to its audience, while being aware of the perspectives of their listeners. This balance is incredibly difficult to maintain, but my experience helped me realize how important it is. In an incredibly uncertain and chaotic world, public broadcasting’s mission to inform the public with purpose and intent is an imitable and admirable goal.

Connor Boulet’s favorite spot in the world is behind a microphone in a padded studio, warming up his vocal cords for an early afternoon broadcast. A broadcast media student at North Greenville University, Connor’s dream is to engage an audience through electrifying music and open conversation. In a world shifting towards new media, Connor recognizes the role radio plays in many people’s lives and wants with all his heart to be a part of that impact.

 

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The Value of a Writing Community

So you think you can sit alone in your room or your local coffee shop and hammer out a book on your laptop and call it done? Nope. You need a community of writers, and here’s why.

Accountability

Writing is hard. And because it’s hard, it’s easy to let it slide, especially if you’re the only one who knows you’re supposed to be writing. But if you’re part of a writing group or you post your writing goals on social media, you’ve suddenly got a lot more people breathing down your neck—I mean encouraging you to finish what you start. A goal no one knows about can be ignored and forgotten, but when you’ve got a community who won’t let you forget, that goal becomes a lot more concrete—and more likely to be accomplished.

Connections

Writing is usually a solitary action, but publishing—even self-publishing—takes a village. Building a writing community now helps so much with that. You need beta readers? Authors will gladly volunteer. Need an editor or a cover artist? Your writer friends can tell you how they found theirs or connect you to someone they know. Need help marketing? They’ll promote your work like crazy. Some might even interview you for their blogs or have you write a guest post for them. I once complimented a writer friend on her marketing plan, and she gave it to me to study and adapt. Gave. For free. Never underestimate the value of a writer connection.

Writing alone has its thrilling moments, but it can also be lonely and frustrating. Having a community to get you through the good times and the hard times can be invaluable. You can commiserate with each other’s frustrations and celebrate each other’s successes. You can be inspired by others and inspire them in turn. You can cheer each other on until you accomplish your dreams.

How to Build Your Writing Community

Now that you know why a writing community is so important, how do you build one? You might try joining a local writing group; a library or university in your area might have some suggestions. You can make even more writer friends online. Facebook is a great place to connect with writing groups. You can also curate your Twitter feed to be author-friendly by following lots of authors and engaging with hashtags like #amwriting, #WIPjoy, #AuthorConfession, #StorySocial, and many more (be sure to see how other authors are using those hashtags first so you can learn how and when to include them in your tweets). There’s also National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, when you can join together with other authors to hammer out a draft of a novel in one month—the official website, nanowrimo.org, provides lots of resources and forums where you can connect with others. Finally, you can make great connections in person you might never make otherwise by attending a writing conference like Write2Ignite, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference, or Realm Makers.

Writing is a solitary act, but it’s not one you have to do alone (nor should you). Building a community is one of the most important steps you can take towards writing success

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Award-winning author Jonathan King is a full time Library Assistant at North Greenville University. His literary experience ranges from editing The Mountain Laurel, NGU’s student literary publication, to writing short stories and plays, including two flash fiction pieces published by Splickety Havok. His short play Therapy received a Certificate of Merit from Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and another short play, Cuckoo in the Nest, received an honorable mention in the 2015 Writer’s Digest Writing competition. Jonathan loves peanut butter, superheroes, and anything combining the two.

 

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5 Things Journalism School Taught Me About Writing

Photo from Pexels

I graduated in May of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and immediately transitioned into a career in marketing. I’m still learning the ropes of copywriting, but many of the principles I learned in journalism school apply to both copywriting and creative writing. I’d love to share some of those things with you.

Interviewing Strangers

One of the first skills I learned in journalism school was how to conduct interviews. In class, my professor had us practice interviewing each other before she sent us to the nearby computer lab to talk to other students — to strangers.

Approaching unsuspecting, and potentially unwilling, strangers was terrifying at first, but over time, the action became easier. By my sophomore year, I was excited to interview strangers.

I’m glad I learned to talk to people and ask good questions early on in my education because so much of the program was based on that discipline. Without interviewing skills, many of my news stories would have been lackluster because people are the heart of a story.

My senior year, I wrote a news story about Main Street Lynchburg, Va., receiving new water lines and electrical systems — not the most interesting story in the world.

But when I added quotes from a quirky barista known as “Coco” and an elderly camera shop owner who thinks the project is “experimenting with other people’s livelihoods,” the story took on a new dimension. 

Whether you’re writing a newspaper article or a work of fiction, talking to others will breathe life into your story.

Simplicity is the Key to Good Writing

Most news is written at an eighth-grade reading level. Journalists intentionally write at a lower reading level so news can be accessible to readers. When writing, journalists use simple sentences and words to get their points across. 

Similarly, in copywriting, we use plain English. When writing to a diverse audience, it is best to write plainly and simply because your readers may have different levels of education. (Am I the only one who read magazine ads as a kid?)

While fiction writers have a more specific audience, I still believe simple writing is the best writing because it doesn’t distract the reader from the story.

Transitions are Hard

Copies of the Liberty Champion displayed on my dorm room wall circa 2017

Both transitions in writing and transitions in life are difficult. 

Traditionally, journalists had to write as simple and short as possible to fit their stories into just a few column inches of the paper. That doesn’t matter as much now with the internet being the primary vehicle for news, but there still isn’t much room for transitions in journalistic writing. 

Academic writing is different than journalistic writing. It’s fluffier and lengthier and more formulaic. Every paragraph is supposed to be bookended with an introduction and a conclusion, and every section is bookended with introductory and conclusive paragraphs. And on it goes. 

Journalistic writing doesn’t have the time for paragraphs dedicated solely to transitioning from one thought to the next, so I learned snappy words to transition quickly from one subject to the next without giving my readers whiplash.

Similarly, I learned that transitions in life are difficult. (See how I used the word “similarly” to transition my thoughts?) 

Transitioning from being a high school student with an interest in creative writing to a journalism student dedicated to fact-based writing was difficult. At first, I felt like my creativity was being stifled because of the blandness of journalism compared to the freedom of creative writing.

But as my education progressed, the blandness transformed into a challenge, and I learned to write true stories creatively.

Again, I’m going through a transition from a journalism student to a copywriting professional. My creativity often runs dry because the copy I write is predetermined by my clients. I don’t get to choose my projects or conduct the research myself — it’s all provided. 

Yet I’m learning to incorporate creativity into direct mail pieces and monthly offer emails. And I’m beginning to realize that creativity is not unrestrained. It’s a tool I can apply to everything I write, whether it is client-provided content or a short story from my heart.

Writing is Easy. Editing is Hard.

I never had a hard time sitting down to write my first draft. After completing my research, transcribing my interviews, and framing an outline, the first draft flowed onto the page in a few minutes. 

Going back and editing is the hard part. Now, I don’t mean checking for grammatical errors. I mean cutting out unnecessary words and sentences, rearranging the flow of the story, and sometimes going back to the drawing board.

Usually, my first drafts ran long — around 1,200 words. At my college newspaper, we had a limit of 750 words per article so everything would fit into our 16-page paper. 

That meant I had to cut out about 450 words every week. That’s a big chunk of text (and work)!

The hard part of editing my own writing is admitting to myself that the first draft isn’t perfect. Over time I learned that a first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect!

Once I accept that my writing isn’t perfect the first time around, I can usually effectively cut out a few hundred words. Before submitting my work, I wait a day and reread the piece with “fresh eyes.”

Don’t Waste your Mistakes

You’re going to make mistakes at some point in your writing career, and that’s okay. Whether it’s misspelling a name or overlooking a grammatical error, know that you can learn from your mistakes.

During my time with the school’s newspaper, I made my fair share of mistakes. So I kept a document of my common mistakes on my computer. That way, I could refer back to it when writing my stories. 

I also worked as a copy editor for the school’s newspaper for two years, and during that time, I made some embarrassing mistakes (like overlooking a misspelling on the front page). Making a checklist of things to look for when reviewing your work (or others’ work) is a great way to cut down on mistakes and improve your writing and editing skills.

What have you learned on your writing journey? I’d love to hear about the lessons you’ve learned in the comments below!

 

About Emily

Photo by Jim Smith

EmilyBabbitt is a promotional writer for Liberty University Marketing and specializes in residential undergraduate enrollment. She has done extensive research on Generation Z and has written for school-aged audiences in her work as a promotional writer and through contract work with Growing Leaders, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, taking photos, and cooking. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, EmilyMarlene.com, or connecting with her on LinkedIn.

 

Emily will be blogging for Write2Ignite on the first Thursday of every month. Her next post will be published on Nov. 7.

 

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The Minimalist Writer

Along the city wall in York, England – a bow window used in the time of war. It’s all about focus!

As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blog post or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.

Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?

 

There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. Authors have families, other jobs, people and pets to care for, let alone places we’d like to go – just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??

Can I make a suggestion?

We don’t need to!

As far as I’m concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .

READ. WRITE. CONNECT. CRITIQUE. SUBMIT. INSPIRE. MENTOR.

Sound easy? It is!

 

#1 READ

Books that

– intrigue
– inspire
– inform

In addition, you must read in the genre you are writing in. And occasionally, to shake things up, choose a genre you would not normally read, or try an e-book or an audiobook. You’d be amazed at how a story gains another dimension when you listen to the words.

Join Goodreads, and find fellow readers who will share their favs. And you, in turn, can recommend yours.

 

#2 WRITE

For obvious reasons, if you are going to be a writer, you need to, well, write!

Every day, in some way.

It could be a letter. A blog post. A one-page prompt. An entry in your diary. Some creativity needs to flow from your pen.

I find having a weekly blog post forces me to write. Sometimes, being part of a challenge like NaNoWriMo brings out the creative juices. Or perhaps you work better with prompts. You can find prompts online or in a book. Take your pick.

 

The Charles Dickens Museum

 

#3 CONNECT

Connecting with others is a must — readers, writers, and professionals (agents and editors).

How is that done?

Through Social Media — pick one!

Facebook: if you love to post links, ask questions, share your travel pics, post cute animal photos, and share FB posts with others.

Pinterest: if you love to categorize images in a visual file for future reference, collect images for your next book, or writing tips to use later.

Twitter: if you can be succinct, love to connect with professionals, use GIFs and images, and ask questions or participate in pitch parties, etc.

Instagram: if you are all about a single photo, love to go live, to inspire others, and can tell a story in one image, but don’t necessarily care to share.

Also, writers’ groups like 12×12 are a great way to connect. You will find your friend list and writing skills growing faster than you ever thought possible! Memberships to professional organizations like SCBWI and ACFW are a must.

 

#4 CRITIQUE

Every writer needs a critique group. You can’t write in a vacuum. You need others to point out flaws in your writing, so you can perfect it. If signing a contract with an agent or editor is on your wishlist, then you need critique buddies to help you get that manuscript in shape.

The groups I’ve mentioned above will have critique groups to join as well as Word Weavers International, specifically conceived to help writers perfect their manuscripts in a friendly environment. They gather online or in person to encourage one another in their writing pursuits.

 

#5 SUBMIT

Of course, if you are going to be published, you need to submit! Here is a comprehensive guide to help you. Find the Writer’s Market 2020 here. The guide gives you tips of all sorts, and the categories are divided according to genre, subject, and type of publication. For those who write faith-based works, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a must-read.

And don’t forget the importance of writers’ conferences such as our own Write2Ignite and others like The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.     Each year, you have the opportunity to schedule appointments with agents and editors who might be waiting to publish your story!

 

#6 INSPIRE!

I don’t know about you, but I need to get out every so often and be inspired. Since I am a historical fiction writer, nothing gets my little grey cells working more than a trip to a historical town or museum. When I visited Bath, England years ago, my daughter and I had tea at this famous bun shop.

When we finished our treats, I visited the tiny museum in the basement of the shop which you see below. There was a small sign indicating that the woman who started the shop was a Huguenot girl who escaped persecution and fled to England. That tidbit of info was all I needed to begin my story, which I titled “Because of a Bun: Soli’s Saving Grace”.

 

 

#7 MENTOR

Just as the Brontë sisters mentored each other, and modern-day writers, too, as their classics wind their way into our hearts, we as writers need to find someone a bit farther behind us to come beside us on our journey. Have coffee with them and ask about their projects. Give them links to helpful resources. Offer to critique a story for them. They will thank you, and someday, do the same for another.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below!


 

The Heart Changer - MG Historical Fiction
Jarm Del Boccio’s debut MG Historical Fiction, “The Heart  Changer”

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/  Purchase The Heart Changer HEREJarm loves reviews, as does any author! 

Here’s a handy Teachers’ Guide to use with The Heart Changer as a unit study.


Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on the lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history. Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

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Scripture Saturation

Fast is fashionable. The all-consuming lust for speed, however, caters to instant gratification and undermines weighty pursuits. It carries a hidden cost, a price tag that few would be willing to pay in many situations. And we know it. We understand that gaining proficiency in a skill requires sustained concentration over time. A classical cellist, a professor of mathematics, and an expert stone mason can only develop mastery through countless hours of painstaking labor.

Despite the obvious need to slow down on important matters, the unrelenting demand to ‘hurry up’ continues to berate us. When applied to our spiritual walk, the consequences prove catastrophic. What is more important than care for the soul? And what is more indispensable to biblical piety than time in the Word? Speed is incompatible with devoting ourselves to study of the Scriptures. Trendy timing-saving techniques simply reallocate where we invest our minutes. God requires us to give an account for this expenditure – and its return in dividends.

God calls the Christian to be saturated with Scripture. That means soaking ourselves in the Bible, not scurrying over it. Scripture saturation entails devoting significant time to focused study, with the aim of mastery, and carrying God’s Word with us throughout the day.

The following points of practical counsel aim to help believers immerse themselves in the Bible. Alternating different approaches during different seasons will bring out a rich diversity in what we glean from Scripture. We need to read deeply (small chunks in detail) and widely (large sections in their entirety). Both approaches require time; they defy the incessant nag to rush.

1. Pray before you read.

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. 119:18). Pray as you read – in the face of God’s presence – and “receive with meekness the engrafted word” (Jas. 1:21). Then allow the text to serve as a springboard to guide and enrich your supplications, as a means of soaking further in the text. Finally, carry Christ, revealed in that portion, with you throughout the day in your praying without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17).

2. Pick one verse from your daily reading and chew on it all day long.

Make this a habit. What does it reveal about God, Christ, gospel, law? What promises, warnings, exhortations, comforts, convictions, doctrines does it teach? What particular sins does it expose in me? What light does it cast on my present circumstances? How does it apply to my thinking, emoting, conscience, practice, relationships?

3. Read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting and take time to note the themes and sub-themes throughout.

What are the recurring words and concepts? Are there close connections to other books of the Bible? What was the historical context?

4. Pick one book of the Bible and read it slowly over several days or weeks, pausing to study verses and chapters in-depth until you attain a thorough grasp of its message.

Ask, “What does it mean?” first. Then ask, “What does it mean for me?” Use a commentary, while focusing on the text, if that would help.

5. Pick a topic and explore it from Genesis to Revelation, seeking to extract all that God has revealed on that matter.

Do this little by little each day. To make it more manageable, explore one theme throughout the whole book of Psalms (e.g., the kingship of Christ, conviction of sin, adoption, Christian joy, election, holiness of God, etc.).

6. You cannot reach saturation without retention.

God’s truth must lodge in your soul rather than simply pass through you. Memorization makes it stick in your mind. So commit a section or chapter to memory and focus your mental energies on meditation. Often your meditation will shed light on what you read elsewhere, and what you read elsewhere will aid your meditation.

7. Meditation consists of more than mental rumination. It also engages the mouth.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night …” (Joshua 1:8). The Psalter opens with instructions to delight in the Word through meditating on it (Ps. 1:2).

8. Since writing often crystallizes your thoughts, chronicle your reflections and meditations on your daily Scripture reading with a journal.

This provides the additional benefit of aiding review. You can go back over and over again and profit from what God was teaching you that day.

9. Go to bed with your Bible. Wake up with your Bible.

Murdoch Campbell, a 20th century highland Free Church minister, would lie down every night and drift off to sleep mulling over a stanza from the Psalms. When he woke up, he would immediately latch onto another text to fill his first waking thoughts. These bookends can sometimes bring the benefit of permeating a person’s dreams with spiritual reflections – a notable windfall when we recall that we spend roughly one-third of every twenty-four hours asleep.

Scripture saturation clashes with a sound-bite-society, and the Lord permits no peace treaty for ending the conflict. Shortcuts do not exist. This requires time, concentration and deliberate pursuit. May the Lord makes us, like Apollos, “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24), following the example of the Bereans, who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).

 

Robert McCurley has been the pastor of Greenville Presbyterian Church (FCC) in Taylors, SC for over 11 years. He has served as moderator for the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) in 2017, is an editor of The Master’s Trumpet, and also serves on the publication committee for Grange Press. Reverend McCurley is married and has five children. This article was adapted and used with permission from the author. It first appeared on Grange Press.

 

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Bringing Out Holiness and a Giveaway

Bringing out holiness. Perhaps we artists would prefer to describe the concept as “drawing out holiness.” What does it mean to “bring–or draw–out holiness”? And how on earth could our writing affect holiness? Guest blogger, J.G. Spires, invites us to consider this concept.

What is “bringing out”?

First of all, this “bringing out” concept does not refer to an innate goodness that we tease out or encourage others to reveal from inside themselves. If we humans had innate goodness, we would not need God to be our Savior. The reality is we are sinful and we need Christ Jesus. When we set our faith and hope in what Christ Jesus has done and who He is, God declares us righteous and makes us holy based on Christ’s work and identity. Then we Christians experience continual growth as, little by little, the Holy Spirit conforms us to think, act, and desire as Jesus thinks, acts, and desires.

Becoming like Christ

Becoming like Christ, we grow in holiness as God changes our hearts and purges us of sin–a process that is painful and often feels slow or stagnant. But it is one God has promised will be successful because He is the One making us holy as He is holy.

What does the process of growing in holiness have to do with writing? Here is where “bringing out holiness” comes into play for us writers.

Writing, good or bad, stirs us. I remember reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as a child. I remember my indignation at one character’s insistence that the protagonist, an African American girl named Cassie, call a white girl her own age “Mizz.”I remember wishing Cassie were treated with the dignity she deserved as a human being. I loved Cassie. I hurt when she hurt. I learned from her discoveries. Mildred Taylor never knew I would read about Cassie, yet her writing evoked from me a righteous anger that to this day impacts how I regard those of other races and ethnic backgrounds. Her book stirred me to think of people unlike me and empathize with others. Such is the power of writing: it opens readers to thoughts and emotions beyond their own experiences.

Application to Christian writers

By cracking open minds and hearts through our works, we writers bring out holiness in others. We are called to steward our abilities and lead others in feeling holy emotions, such as righteous anger at injustice, compassion for sufferers, and desire to seek others’ good. We also lead others in thinking holy thoughts as we describe scenes, characters, and events in a manner that guides and develops readers’imagination and logic.

Drawing out holiness by leading others in thinking and feeling does not mean avoiding issues, evil, or ugliness. Thorns do not dim the beauty of a rose. In fact, the thorns, the surrounding ugliness, illuminate that beauty. Depicting the ugliness of life in a manner that exalts goodness is how we writers can bring out holiness in our readers.

Through our works, we lead others in considering what is good and what is ugly in life. We stir in readers thoughts and emotions that can foster their growth as Christians or, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, bring them to the point of becoming Christians. We bring out holiness as we describe a rainbow in a waterfall, a twinkle in a grandmother’s eye, a cat’s soft purr, a woven pattern on a pillow, or a sigh after a hard day at work. We bring out holiness in readers by creating a space in which they think about, experience, and desire goodness so that in their hearts, they worship the God who is good.

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How about you? Have you ever considered “bringing out holiness” in your writing? How can you do that in the future? Leave a comment, subscribe to the Write2Ignite newsletter (link on the right), or share this post on social media, and you will earn one, two, or three chances to win the historical novel, Enya’s Son. Make sure you leave your email address with what you did so you can be given credit. Contest ends July 28th and will be announced on Monday’s blog–so enter soon!

 

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Julia Klukow (pen name J.G. Spires) grew up in Orlando, Florida, where Disney and designs to outrun alligators fueled her imagination. Because she loves stories, she studied English, earning her BA at North Greenville University before moving north to study for a Master of Art in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary. She hopes the truth of Jesus Christ comes out in each piece she writes as she pursues teaching and creative writing as a means of communicating the gospel. You can find online Julia on her blog

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7 Ways to Write More Effectively for Ministry on the Web

https://unsplash.com/photos/YpefHkUc8BQ

Please welcome Deanna Kustas, our guest blogger today.

How many times have heard the saying, “It’s not just what you say, but how you say it”? 

Words matter. Writing a great story  matters. But how you share a story will change depending on where you are telling it and who you are telling it to. 

If 80 percent of communication is nonverbal, how can you communicate to an audience that is reading what you write on their laptop or phone? How much more intentional should you be when sharing a message that could change someone’s life eternally?

Here are seven ways to write more effectively to minister to a digital audience:

  1. Write for Your Audience and Not for Yourself

It’s not about you. 

The average reading level for someone online is 12 years old. That means you are writing for a seventh grader. If a middle schooler can’t understand what you’re saying, neither can the average internet user.

Yikes! This doesn’t mean you can’t talk in depth, but it does mean you need to avoid “insider talk” and breakdown difficult ideas and concepts. 

  1. Research

https://unsplash.com/photos/WC6MJ0kRzGw

 To write for your audience, you have to know them. You need to determine who you are trying to reach, and you need to get to know them. What are they talking about? What are their needs? Their fears? What do you have to offer them that can help? 

Research can take many forms from websites to conducting interviews to doing surveys with people from your target demographic. 

Here are some sites that can be helpful:

  1. What’s the Point?

If you don’t know the reason you are writing, nine times out of 10, neither will your audience. Why are you choosing to tackle what you are writing about? What is your goal for the audience after they read your article, take your quiz or download your resource? 

  1. Creating Good Online Content

 Whenever you sit down to write a blog or a video script, you want to give value to your audience. Is what you are making benefiting those who read it? If so, how?

Remember, you aren’t writing for you, you are writing for them. 

For more on writing this kind of content watch Cru’s Creating Content webinar.

  1. Break It Up

Mobile views account for 80 percent of the content consumed online. Read that again. What you write is going to be read, or more accurately skimmed, on a tiny screen. Your content needs to be organized in an easily digestible way. 

Some of the best ways to do this are by writing one to two sentence paragraphs and breaking up your topics with subheadings. That way if your reader doesn’t want to read your whole blog, they can easily find what they are looking for. 

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  1. Caption This

We all want what we write to be read. One way to encourage this is by writing good headlines, email subjects and social media captions that point readers to your content.

Here are some resources to help you write better:

  1. What’s Next?

Once your reader has read your article, what is a good next step for them to take? 

On Cru.org, we want to eliminate dead ends on our site. That means adding hyperlinks throughout articles as well as next steps. 

We’ve also started making online content journeys that not only eliminate dead ends but also offer multiple steps the audience can take. Check out two of our journeys from the past year:

For more tips on how to create good online content or how to do ministry online check out our digital ministry page at Cru.org.

 

Deanna Kustas is an Upstate New Yorker who currently resides in Orlando, Florida. She has been on staff with Cru for 12 years and helps run content strategy for Cru.org. She enjoys laughing, cooking, music, puppies, drinking cold brew, and making jewelry  and occasionally blogging.