If you enjoy devotionals, you’ll enjoy this interview with Martin Wiles devotional writer extraordinaire. I enjoyed picking his creative brain about devotionals and his creative process.
Martin, welcome. I enjoy devotionals and there are some classics that have been around for decades. Tell me why another devotional?
Although authors have been writing devotions and devotional books for many years, I think a need always exists for new devotional books by authors of each new generation. Each writer is a unique individual created in God’s image and also has distinctive experiences, which often means giving a different twist than another writer who might have written on the same subject or verse. While there is nothing new under the sun, writers choose to pen their thoughts in different ways with unique insights.
Explain to my readers how you come up with each idea and how you construct it.
My ideas normally come from life experiences—both past and present. I carry a pad of some sort with me at all times. When an idea comes, I write it down. I even have one by my bed and one by my recliner. I find that if I do not write an idea down as soon as it hits me, I will normally forget it. If by chance I don’t have a pad, I use the Note app on my iPhone. I have even used a napkin at a restaurant. Anything to get the idea on paper.
Knowing the Scripture well helps with constructing the idea. For me, the experience usually leads me to Scripture. I use the same format we use for the website for which I am Managing Editor: Hook, Book, Look, and Took. I use an illustration—personal or otherwise—at the beginning to draw the reader in. Then I explain the Scripture. Following that, I give practical application, and then conclude by giving the reader a challenge…a task to complete or at least think about.
Tell my readers why devotionals are something they should read.
I dearly love the new forms of technology—especially since I grew up in an era before it appeared—but one consequence of instant information is that it has shortened our attention span. Most of my devotions are 400 words or less, which is rather lengthy in the world of devotional writing. I think people are looking for spiritual truth in short bites. Well-written devotions provide this. Although devotions won’t give a reader all the information about a particular topic or subject or answer all the questions they might have, the devotion should provide enough to goad the reader to explore the topic further. And devotions may well provide enough substance that will lead to life transformation if a person needs that.
Why should Christian writers consider writing devotionals or devotional books?
Writing individual devotions or publishing devotional books won’t make you rich, but for the average person who writes other genres, getting wealthy from their sales won’t happen either. While devotional writers are numerous, a person will have more opportunities to get a single devotion published than they probably will to have a book on any other genre published. Devotion writing also teaches a writer to write tight. Most of the places which publish devotions from freelance writers require devotions that are less than 250 words. This challenges the writer to say what they have to say in the fewest words possible, which hones skills and makes better writing. Additionally, many publishers—even Christian publishers—want writers to eliminate overt references to Christianity and rather get messages across in a more subtle way. With devotional venues, this is not normally a requirement.
Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and encouragement with my readers.
Here is the back cover copy of Martin’s current release.
A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World takes the reader out of the noise that often accompanies living in this world and into the quiet escapades of wooded areas where the voice of God is more clearly heard. A Whisper in the Woods was birthed from the author’s numerous treks with his two children and his middle brother in mountainous areas on the eastern coast of the United States. Through these hiking and camping experiences, God taught the author valuable lessons that have seen him through many difficult life experiences. As you walk with him through the mountain valleys and over the high summits, you too will hear God whisper words of comfort to you.
Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, South Carolina and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019.
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What are some of your favorite devotionals or inspirational readings?