Shortly after moving to the Islands, a new habit easily became walking early on the beach. On one particular morning, something unlikely happened. (Unlikely from my beach experiences . . . ) I found a big beautiful shell— a whole shell. Do you understand? I found a large complete shell five inches tall and four inches wide. Feeling stunned, amazed, and thrilled, I instantly knew I was meant to find this particular shell, on this particular day, in this particular way.
How do I know that? Because it was God showing off again in my world. See, before my walk I had just read how God uses our SHAPE for his purpose. SHAPE being an acronym from Rick Warren’s book A Purpose Driven Life (236). His SHAPE acronym represents the following words and how God uses them in our life:
S – Spiritual Gifts
H – Heart
A – Abilities
P – Personality
E – Experiences
The SHELL I found is a symbol for the devotion I had read and a gift to remember the lesson. Believe me, I have walked beaches many times, and I have never found such a big unbroken SHELL. On this particular day, He reminded me he has made us all for a special purpose and wants us to use all the above traits for his purpose.
A couple months pass and again I’m walking the beach contemplating inspirations for a new blog, and again I am still thinking about that SHELL. (Now anytime I see a shell, I think of that shell.)
As I continue walking the pastel carpet of broken shell pieces listening to the crunch of each step, I ponder Warren’s acronym and think about how our first drafts for short blogs, essays, and articles form a shell for our final written work. Getting that first Shell of a Draft is sometimes the hardest part of writing. Coming up with ideas is not difficult for writers– it is giving the idea shape. Ask around and discover, most writers keep stashes of ideas tucked in shoe boxes, notebooks, electronic files, and the sandy corners of their minds to develop one day. Discerning what direction, what purpose, and for what audience an idea best agrees often forms its shape when we write that First Shell of a Draft.Getting that first Shell of a Draft is sometimes the hardest part of writing. Click To Tweet
While walking and enjoying the formation of birds standing at attention, a new ACRONYM for the word SHAPE came to mind. An acronym to help writers create a first SHELL OF A DRAFT.
How to SHAPE a Shell of a Draft:
S – See it
H – Hear it
A – Ask it
P – Perceive it
E – End it, Edit it, Edit it, Edit it, . . . and END IT.Write to see what's on your mind. Click To Tweet
One of my favorite quotes to share is by E.M Forster, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” The heart of our drafts often originates when we free write those first initial thoughts and ideas. Sometimes we are surprised by what appears on the blank screen or notebook and we discover, learn, and grow when what is deep within our heart is revealed. So for step one, when you have a topic or idea, just write. Write to see what’s on your mind. Write to see what’s on your heart, and write to see what’s in your Spirit. Just get it down on paper.
Do my thoughts flow smoothly for the reader? Reread the draft repeatedly listening for areas where words may be missing or thoughts are not connecting smoothly. (Perhaps some transitions will help.) Listen for opportunities of adding parallelism with list or alliteration to catch a reader’s attention. These are all writing elements, tools, or techniques a wordsmith enjoys adding to his or her work. Pay attention to word choice when rereading aloud. Look up words if needed and use a thesaurus to reduce redundancy. Finally, say a little prayer and trust your ear; trust it as an assistant to your writing.
Are there any areas of confusion? Are the examples and support all supporting the main idea of the message? If not, some may need to be omitted. Writers often have lots of ideas on how to reveal a message, but determine which details and examples best reveal your purpose and audience and omit the rest. This question is a key factor in helping writers decide what to leave in and what to take out. If it does not support the purpose, consider leaving it out.
This is the time for peer review or reader feedback. Can the text be misunderstood, unclear, or offensive to readers? How might others interpret the prose? When asking someone’s perspective, you may want to share a past blog on how a friend can offer confident feedback.
This may be the hardest decision, but deadlines and goals help encourage the process. End it, then edit it, end it again, let it rest, and edit it again. Embrace the process and accept revision, revision, revision is required to get that draft into shape. Continue the process until you feel peace or your time has expired. Say a little prayer and let your message go.
Today, when I hold the shell I found, it symbolizes for me the SHAPE God is molding me into and how my spirit, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences SHAPE my writing. In addition, the shell is a marker of answered prayer (for years I’ve wanted to live back near a beach). It represents my current life transition from single motherhood to empty-nester and the SHAPE for which my heavenly father sees me and cares about every detail in my life– even a walk on the beach.
I hope these suggestions will help new writers develop their ideas into drafts and then on to a final message.
(I am ending here because it’s now time to go walk on the beach with a friend.)
Below, I invite you to share what gifts God reveals to you while enjoying nature.