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The Writing Outline: Take Heart. Your Book Won’t Take 1000 Years to Organize!

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. (Ezra 7:10, NLT)

A Word For Writers

Thanks to Ezra, we have a ready-made writing outline in the longest book of the Bible: Psalms. You can see five different sections of Psalms, labeled as “Book I, Book II” and so forth in your Bible.

The Writing Outline: a #devotional for writers based on Ezra 7:10 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #ChristianWriting #FreelanceWriting

How did this come about? Around 458 BC, Ezra led a group of Jewish exiles back from Babylon to Jerusalem. There, he organized the synagogue, taught scriptures, restored worship, and led a revival among the Hebrew people. 

As part of his task, Ezra and his worship team of priests organized the worship songs – the psalms – used by the Hebrew people for generations.

Strictly speaking, Ezra was an editor. Nevertheless, if you think organizing your material to put into book form is a big task, consider what Ezra had to do. He gathered psalms written by more than seven authors (including David, Asaph, Korah, Solomon, Moses, Heman, Ethan and others) who wrote from about 1445 BC to 430 BC and figured out a way to organize it.

That’s a thousand years of material to put into a writing outline. (Even the most prolific among us hasn't been writing for that long.)

Scholars believe the writing outline mirrors the themes of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) in a sequential format

  • Book 1: Psalms 1-41 mirrors Genesis and the glory of creation
  • Book 2: Psalms 42-72 mirrors Exodus and deliverance of God’s people
  • Book 3: Psalms 73-89 mirrors Leviticus and worship practices
  • Book 4: Psalms 90-106 mirrors Numbers and the principle of kingdom
  • Book 5: Psalms 107-150 mirrors Deuteronomy and the focus on scripture

Even a long-term project like the Book of Psalms can be organized using a simple outline. And yours needn’t take 1000 years. Thank you, Ezra!

A Wise Word

A writing outline organizes a book’s message. 

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for Ezra and his ability to organized large chunks of material. I confess that I can be easily overwhelmed and discouraged by a big project. Ezra inspires me. Give me wisdom and insight as I create a writing outline for my next project.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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The Table of Contents: How St. Jerome Arranged the Books of the Bible ...

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