Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Tips to Breathe Life Into Your Writing


by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

The imposing deadlines, that stubborn writer’s block, and maybe even lifeless words. This triple threat can threaten our creativity and stifle inspiration. Our highest aspiration as nonfiction writers includes capturing a message on paper that imparts truth, grace, and power to our readers. But when we grow weary of getting the words just right, smashing writer’s block, and conquering our deadlines, the goal becomes writing something on the page. Sometimes that’s all we can do until a fresh breeze of wisdom (and divine intervention) breathes life into our writing.

How can we transform lifeless into animated, and flat into inspiring? If your busy schedule and mental blocks are killing your writing, breathe life back into it with the following CPR method.

How to Give Your Writing Some CPR

C – Create a lead-in that captures the reader’s interest, and weave your story or slant all the way through your writing.

A story draws the reader in, and allows them to “see” your point. Pick a story that perfectly illustrates your main idea, and share more of the story in the conclusion or repeat a part of it that builds to a climatic finish. 

If you’re using a metaphor as your slant, weave it into several parts of your writing. Use it as the lead-in to gain interest. Explain its spiritual significance as you begin to talk about Scripture. Repeat it in your ending takeaway. The metaphor reinforces your point and ties your paragraphs together.

My favorite metaphor tends to be music or dancing. (The good kind.) I have contrasted guilt and forgiveness by using music as a slant. “The haunting melody of guilt had followed her, had crept into her soul. But she heard Jesus sing a different song, one of mercy and forgiveness.”1 This contrast became the slant for talking about the woman with the alabaster flask in Luke Chapter 7, a story I have always treasured. 

P – Present not only the what of your point, but include the why and/or the how.

Many writers stop with the what. It’s essential, but it’s not the whole story. Too often “factual” causes an article to be rejected or a book proposal to end up in the slush pile. Connect the facts to what intrigues the mind and touches the heart. 

To inspire readers to take action, show them why they need to take action and how to do what you’re discussing. Use Scripture and life experience to show them why they need to take your message to heart. Give them practical steps they can start implementing immediately. 

For example, in Breaking the Chains, Laura W. Watts contributed an article titled “Fight Indifference with a Flame of Love.” She not only identified eight symptoms of indifference, showing why it was so dangerous, but she gave six ways to break free from it. 

R – Replace limp words with vivid ones, and cut unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs.

I’ve learned that editing is not a personal attack. A cut to my words isn’t a cut on my identity or value. Editing is needed. Essential. It’s a must for anyone who bears the name writer. 

A good practice is to look at every word in a sentence and see if it’s vivid and necessary. Exchange limp words with nouns and verbs that illustrate, that paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Cut the words and sentences that aren’t needed. Analyze the purpose of whole paragraphs, and see if they fit nicely into your flow of thought. Streamlined writing makes for streamlined and enjoyable reading.

My heart has ached when I’ve copied and pasted whole paragraphs into an “Extra” file. But I knew I could visit them again if I found a home for them. The reader will never know what we have changed or cut in our writing. However, they will receive the best possible version if we faithfully infuse our writing with words that sing, touch the heart, and follow our flow of thought. 

Which step in the CPR method do you practice regularly? Which one do you need? Tell us in the comments, and keep infusing your writing with vitality and impact.

 

1 Katy Kauffman, compiler and author, Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2017), 13.


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Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of REFRESH BIBLE STUDY MAGAZINE, and a co-founder of LIGHTHOUSE BIBLE STUDIES. She loves connecting with writers and working alongside them in compilations, such as Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 1 which is a 2020 Selah Awards finalist.

In addition to online magazines, Katy’s writing can be found at CBN.COM, thoughts-about-God.com, and three blogs on writing. She loves to spend time with family and friends, talk about art and crafts in her group MY ARTSY TRIBE, and tend the garden in the morning sun. She makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Connect with her at her blog, WINNING THE VICTORY, and on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.


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9 comments:

  1. Katy, your post reflects your metaphor so well. Love it!

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  2. Katy, thank you for always inspiring and encouraging other writers. You are awesome!

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  3. I enjoy telling stories for the lead-in, but I need to work on adding more of the why and the how. Thanks, Katy for these excellent tips.

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    1. I get excited about telling the stories, and I need to remember to make the why and how as "juicy" as possible. To make it appealing and doable. I appreciate your comment!

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  4. Good word Katy.

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  5. I enjoyed this article when I first read it last week, but I came back to it again today. My writing tends to be factual. I like researching and arranging information. A good outline after a Bible study session is cool to me. :-) But, though outlines and facts are essential, people aren't likely to read them if their hearts are not touched. I loved these tips and would love to hear more about making writing personal and touching rather than just factual.

    As with all things, balance is a key factor. I just read the first several pages of a book I was considering on Amazon. I didn't get the book because the author shared long story after story without seeming to come to a point. Or, at least, the point he made seemed disproportionate to the lead-in to get there. Any advice on balance would be welcome as well!

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