Writing from personal experience is a great way to minister to people. Here are five tricks I use:
- A dramatic lead
Use a flashback, dialogue, a surprise, a reflection, or an action scene.
The Christmas tree is down, decorations put away, gifts accepted or exchanged, thank you notes written, the last piece of fruitcake finally gone! Now comes the hard part—facing the first month of the new year when the credit card bills arrive. From “The Debt Dilemma”
- Share emotions
Specific feelings create scenes that ring true.
Anger flamed high within me—and then just as quickly went out. I took a deep breath and said exactly what was on my mind. “I’m disappointed. I’m hurt that you waited until the last minute to call.” From “No One Can Steal My Joy”
- Choose experiences readers can relate to
Comb your life for family relationships, victory over tragedy, personal growth, raising children, growing older, marriage, challenges at work, and your walk with God—all are fodder for articles.
Twenty-some years ago I was a broken woman, divorced from my first husband, about to marry my second, separated from two of my children, and in the doghouse with my father who was disappointed that I had walked away from the faith he taught me. From “Grace for the Long Haul”
- Add a personal insight
Give the reader takeaway value by showing how you have changed from what you experienced. What have you learned?
As I looked ahead with hope I also looked back on our season of receiving with thanksgiving. Real giving requires a humbled heart and a receptive spirit—one that also allows others to be blessed by the joy of giving. From: “A Season of Receiving”
- Polish and submit your article
Use The Christian Writer’s Market Guide for a list of magazines that purchase personal experience articles.
These include: women’s, religious, youth, general interest, and family publications. Look for editors’ comments such as: “seeking meaningful stories of personal experience,” “practical examples of everyday living,” “articles that uplift and inspire,” “personal narratives that show how you have triumphed over a tragedy.”
Karen O’Connor is a CWG mentor and a conference speaker. Visit her online.