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Aspire to Inspire
by Susan Sundwall

One of the most rewarding, and challenging, types of writing is often termed ‘inspirational writing.’ Now, you may hope that all of your writing inspires your reader in some way, but think specifically of the short, concise work you can sell as devotionals or greeting card verse. To be able to write these effectively, you must first be inspired yourself, and do you ever wonder where that comes from? Me too. But then I recall a time when I turned away from my keyboard and looked out the window where red and gold leaves were dancing to the tune of a gusty wind. This is what came to mind:

October drapes her burnished skirt
Stirred by an errant breeze
Bends down to earth and offers thus
Her crimson, leathered leaves

There was more and maybe it’s not wonderful, but it’s a start and indicative of what the autumn season inspires in me. How about you? Maybe the smell of ginger cookies and pinesap causes a glorious word tumble in your mind that sends you flying to the keyboard to whip up some Christmas card verse. Or, perhaps the recent discussion of miracles with a friend triggers your urge to pen a well thought out paragraph or two. This is just the sort of inspirational writing that editors are looking for.

Writing Devotions

Some devotions are published in small booklets of twenty to thirty inspirational passages each. Others are single devotions that can be used in Sunday school curriculum, take-home papers, or religious studies classes. As with the discussion of miracles, you may feel that a scripture verse is the catalyst for the thoughts you long to express on a particular subject. There are publishers that use those thoughts in their devotions for readers at every level; for adults, teens and children. Check the guidelines of your target publication for their preferred point of view. Bear in mind that devotions for adults and teens are often written in first person, while those for children are more commonly written in third person. Here are a few places to begin.

  • Judson Press – Accepts devotions for The Secret Place - Guidelines
  • The Upper Room – Seeks meditations linked to personal experience - Guidelines
  • Group – This is a great place for your children’s or teen’s devotions - Guidelines
  • New Age Today - Guidelines
  • Light for Today - Guidelines

Greeting Card Verse

Okay, only think Hallmark, Gibson or American Greetings here if you’re looking for examples of words that tug at the heartstrings. These companies have their own writers, but many others take inspirational verse from freelancers. Think specifically of words of delight or comfort you might like to receive yourself in a greeting card. In fact, you may be zapped from on high with boatloads of inspiration as you stand in the card aisle of your local supermarket or pharmacy. Go there a lot! And if you have a software program that enables you to create your own greeting cards, do so. Give them to family, friends and co-workers and ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to be sentimental in your verse creations, either. Go for it! There comes a time in everyone’s life when sentiment is absolutely called for, and you might as well be the one to furnish the words. The kinds of occasions where greeting cards are appropriate are ever changing, too. Think, death of a beloved pet, starting a new job, first day of school, first ballet or piano recital, the breakup of a romance—the list is endless. When you think you have a number of greeting card submissions ready to go, check out the guidelines at these markets for starters.

Inspiration of varying sorts will come to you throughout your writing career. Sometimes it will hit you so hard, you’ll be terrified you won’t get it all pounded out before the whirlwind leaves. At other times the sweet breath of inspiration will glide by in a bark canoe, and bid you pass whatever is given on to others. Those ‘pass it forward’ moments are the ones that will help you tap into the two markets I’ve mentioned here. If you’re a writer who aspires to inspire, the world, and that includes lots of editors, will stand in line for what you have to offer.

© Copyright 2007, Susan Sundwall

Susan is a freelance writer, sometime poet and soon to be blogger. Read her children’s story, "Mary’s Sparrow."

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