Personal Experience Articles (Part 2)

Use the three-step writing method for personal experience stories as well as anything else you write. First, turn on the analytical side of your brain and write your theme in one or two words. Then develop a focus sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in the article. Do not deviate from your theme. Write some sort of an outline. Then set what you have written aside for a day or so. When you go back, forget all you’ve been taught in the way of grammar, word usage, and punctuation. Turn on the right side, the creative side of your brain, and try to write your first rough draft in one sitting. Then set that aside to let it cool. Then go back and polish, whittle, and rewrite, using both sides of the brain.

In a personal experience article, the storyline becomes the vehicle to relate the message you want to convey to the readers. It may be a moral lesson, an ethical issue, or a religious truth. You want to provide insight and instruction for your readers. They must learn to own their own belief system and values to live by. In order for your readers to become involved in your story, the humanness of your main character needs to come through clearly. Then your readers can identify with your character. If you are writing your own story, then you are the main character.

Consequently, you must become vulnerable with your readers and be willing to make yourself transparent. Be careful not to air your dirty laundry, though. Try to chat with your readers as if they were friends, sitting at your kitchen table sharing a cup of tea. Try to be open and honest, so readers can benefit from your experience.

Personal Experience Articles (Part 1)

Everyone has a story to tell. Each of us has at least one story inside our heads. You can use your own personal experiences to create salable articles or use interviewing techniques to tell the stories of others. Do you know what type of magazine article is the most popular? It is the inspirational true life drama—the personal experience story.

I’m going to challenge you to write an article about an experience you have had that will benefit others. Do you keep a journal? This is an excellent way to get your feelings down on paper. But remember that some of the entries in your journal are meant just for you. These entries have been therapeutic for you to put on paper, but they won’t benefit others. Remember you are writing for publication; you are writing for your readers not for yourself. And you don’t ever want to bore your readers.

Richard Green, formerly of Decision Magazine, suggests some excellent questions to ask yourself before you begin writing your story.

1. What have I learned from this experience?

2. What can I teach others through what I have learned?

3. What do I want the reader to do at the end of the article?