I love to write. From blog posts to books—and everything in between—writing has quickly become a passion of mine. I have only been writing seriously for a couple of years, so I know I have a long way to go, but I love the process of becoming better.
Specifically as a writer of Christian content, I want to use the gifts God has given me to his glory. In order to do that, I must be intentional with my writing. Here are four ways to do so.
There is nothing worse than bland, ho-hum, mundane writing. It’s the written version of the boring history professor who speaks in a monotone voice. It’s already bad enough that it’s history class (sorry history lovers), but the monotone voice makes it worse.
Recently I happened upon a tweet about how to write creatively. Here’s the photo.
This is some of the greatest writing advice I’ve ever seen. Short sentences are good, but not one after the other. Long sentences are great, but not when they run together. Make them short; sometimes you should connect them with a semicolon. Be intentional about your diversity of sentence structure—your readers will benefit.
Your goal in writing, first and foremost, is to write good content. I will address that last. But your content will not be good if it is not also creative. I’ve learned this firsthand. I look back at my first blog posts and cringe.
Sometimes you should ignore grammar rules. Write one word sentences. Sometimes. Other times, go with the flow. On every occasion, as Gary Provost explains in the photo, you should “create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear.”
Be Aware of Your Audience
In order to communicate well to your audience, you must know your audience. In other words, you must be aware of your readership. If you don’t pay attention to that, you will lose them.
For example, if you use big, theological buzzwords like penal substitutionary atonement and hypostatic union without providing clear definitions, the reader will likely exit off your article because you talked over their head. This, of course, depends on how you write in the first place. If your writing style is laid back and conversational, you should provide definitions. If it’s academic—well, theological jargon won’t be your problem!
Additionally, be aware of the attention span of your audience. The longer you move past your average word count, the quicker a reader will say, “I don’t want to read a novel.” There is certainly room for lengthy blog posts — I did one that was way over my average on total depravity and anxiety — but for the most part, stick to what you do best. Do a series if necessary.
You’re writing for and to them. Always remember that.
What is lacking in much of evangelical writing—at least Christian articles—is the art of being careful. To be careful means to write with precision, with clarity, with focus. Many articles—and in turn those who pen them—are not careful.
Get straight to the point. Don’t veer off down a rabbit hole that is so easy to go down. Oftentimes we aren’t careful in our writing because we think too fast and publish too quickly. As we are supposed to be “slow to speak (James 1:19),” we also must be slow to write.
If not, we may be guilty of accusing others, making faulty assumptions, and/or not doing our due diligence in making a case or argument for something. Be careful.
Lastly, you need to edit. Edit, edit, edit—then edit some more. Have another person look at it so you can have another pair of eyes. Even I struggle with not doing that. I could read my post before publishing five times and still miss something somebody else would catch. Editing is just as important as writing.
Be Theologically Precise
Above all else, if you’re writing theological content, your articles must be theologically sound.
You might be creative, know your readership, and do a good job of being careful—but if the content of your writing is unbiblical, it’s all in vain. Even more, it’s spiritually damaging.
Before you focus on anything else, I would contend, you must ensure what you’re writing is accurate and faithful to the biblical text. Some of it is not going to be because nobody has perfect theology. There is a difference between writing about the end times and specifically writing that the Trinity is unbiblical. Just be precise.
In the end, you write for God’s glory. Be creative. Know your readership. Exercise carefulness. Get the theology right.