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The Writing Rules: Out of 613, Which Is Most Important?

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

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:27-29, NLT)

A Word For Writers

Your language arts teacher taught writing rules so that you’d learn to communicate clearly on paper. Rules like:

  • Each sentence needs a verb. Especially one-liners.
  • Don’t use contractions like don’t, he’d, you’ll
  • And never start a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or yet.
The Writing Rules: a #devotional for #writers based on Matt 22:37-38 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips

Notice that I’ve broken each of these three writing rules.

That’s not to say you should toss all the rules out the window as you write. Writing rules become a problem when they become The Thing. That is, when following the rules becomes more important than communicating clearly in language that the target reader can understand. 

Jesus spoke often about the same problem with religious law. The purpose of the law was to help God’s people obey Him and have a relationship with Him. 

But leaders of the time were so obsessed with following the law’s 613 rules that obedience to the law became more important than loving God. Rule-following took the place of a relationship with Him. 

Jesus helped them set their priorities straight. He pointed out the most important commandment – that we love God will all our heart, soul, and mind. The rest of the rules are helpful. But Jesus is clear: loving God and loving others is the priority.

There are way more than 613 writing rules that set good standards. But of those, what is the most important writing rule? Communicate clearly. The rest are helpful. But clarity is the priority.

A Wise Word

Use writing rules to communicate clearly.

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father, 

Rules and laws are for my good. Help me keep my priorities straight as I write. Let me use writing rules as a means to communicate clearly. 

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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