Writing What Resonates
Today’s COMPEL blog post comes from Encouragement for Today writer, Kelly Barbrey.
It’s rare I sit down and write a devotion or blog post without letting the idea percolate and marinate in my brain, sometimes for months.
It usually begins with something that happened to me. And that something is usually either silly or stressful. I may not realize it at the time, but usually the moments that produce the most frustration or embarrassment in my life become the content that resonates most with my readers.
Here are a few tips for cultivating content that resonates:
If something strikes you, write it down.
I keep a journal of ideas organized in no particular order. Sometimes it’s a catchy title that pops into my mind at a stoplight. Sometimes it’s an encounter with a coworker that shines light on a potential topic. And sometimes it’s a specific passage of Scripture that leaps off the page and into my heart. You don’t have to have a full concept for any of these — just jot it down, and you will be surprised how the pieces of the puzzle end up coming together.
Start with a story.
When you are staring at a blank screen, think back to some of those silly or stressful memories and tell a piece of your story as the opening line. Think of it as your version of “Once upon a time …” It can be just a sliver of a story; you don’t have to give away the farm in the first sentence. One of my devotions for Encouragement for Today began with “I’ve always been a natural-born worrier.” This may hook people who consider themselves worriers. It worked as the segway into a story that explains what I worry about, and eventually, how giving my burdens to the Lord helps me cope.
Give three examples.
They don’t have to be long; however, this helps you lock-in with readers who may be in different life stages or have different circumstances but are dealing with the same struggle.
Always bring it home.
If you start with a story, find a way to wrap up your writing by tying back to your anchor story or thought. It brings your idea full circle and “puts a bow” on your piece. Think of this as taking a walk around the block but always coming back home to your starting point. For a short piece like a devotion or blog post, you don’t need a long meandering journey, just a quick walk around the block and right back home to make your point.
Writing meaningful content is all about sharing your stories, even the embarrassing ones, with your audience and showing them they are not alone in their journey of life and faith. The more experiences you have (yes, even the frustrating ones!), the larger base of experiences you can pull from to connect with your readers.
About Kelly Barbrey
Kelly Barbrey is an early riser, old soul and full-time working wife and mama. She has a heart for the working mother, and leans on the Lord while navigating the daily struggles of balancing a career as a marketing exec while raising two spirited daughters alongside her husband, Jonathan. Kelly is a monthly contributor for the Columbia, South Carolina Moms Blog and is on the devotion writing team for her local church. As a born-and-raised Southerner, Kelly never underestimates the power of a little grit and a sense of humor.
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Kelly, thank You for laying out a clear structure
I loved the example
This was so helpful, and exactly what I needed this moment! Thank you!
I love this Kelly. Especially your analogy of walking around the block to get back to your point. Thank you!
Thank you for these good reminders! I have a tendency to write all around the topic, and have a hard time focusing on, and getting to, the main point. So, thank you.