When a new writer hears these words, they cringe. I did. The predominant thought running through my mind at the time: but I don’t know anything. Not anything exciting at any rate. But I was wrong and so are you! Everyone has a story to tell – the question is are you the one to tell it?
I’m a wife, a mother, and a teacher, but I’ve also challenged ‘the boys club’ playing and refereeing soccer, taught rock climbing, led youth canoe out-trips through Algonquin park, had dating relationships fail and succeed, been betrayed by a friend, overcome mild post traumatic stress disorder, moved to a town where I didn’t know one other person… The list goes on. I’ve experienced many things common to many people and so have you – and it’s all great material for the beginning writer. Personal experience articles are one of the easiest articles to write and place in the Christian market.
Our family road trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario. 18 hours each way with three kids in a rental car. Ever wished you’d been better prepared with snacks, games and activities? I have. Sounds like an article to me!
Choose a cause that you’re already passionate about whether it’s animal rights, starving children, battered women or the environment–and write about it. If it’s a cause you’re already interested in, research becomes easier and your passion for the topic or cause will shine through in your writing. I’ve had marketers tell me that if a writer isn’t passionate about the cause they’re promoting, they can’t sell it in articles or press releases. It’s true. I’m very passionate about social justice issues, so I’ve written about drug addiction, pornography addiction, human trafficking, child prostitution, reaching out to those serving jail sentences. What are you passionate about?
Have An Opinion
Is there a topic or cause that you make a point to stay abreast of? Whether it’s a specific non-profit’s work, or the latest developments in Canada’s prostitution laws, there are usually publications looking for people who can define the debate, accurately present both sides and give their opinions on the topic tailored to their audience.
Write From The Other Side
When writing about a personal experience be sure to write from the other side of the experience. Work through the pain or the situation first, and write about how you overcame or survived the trial. Or, if it’s a situation that isn’t going away, like caring for a mentally handicapped child for instance, write about how you’re managing to stay positive or what helps you’ve found. If you can do this, you avoid the pitfalls of having your writing dismissed as being angry or bitter.
Is This A Blog Or An Article?
Some topics are better suited to a blog than a newspaper or magazine article. Be honest with yourself. If you want to rant, unless you can do it with a lot of wit and intelligence, or are willing to submit as a letter to the editor, you’re unlikely to find an editor to publish it unless you have a public platform. If you want to share personal stories or thoughts, that’s a blog. If you can pull out a few life lessons from those highs and lows and relate them to a large number of people you’ve got an article.
Make It Bite Size
Take your experience and narrow it down into a bite-size piece, while keeping your audience in mind. Otherwise the article will be too general, too broad, to actually benefit the reader. The power of personal experience is often in the specificity of the experience, but the lesson has wider appeal.
What personal experiences have you/would you like to write about?