Writing Personal Experience ArticlesPosted: February 5, 2011
Have you every written a personal experience article? Try it. I think you’ll like it. They’re easy to do and they are one of my favorite forms of writing.
These articles don’t have to be earthshaking or catastrophic; they can, in fact, be fairly simple. They do need some tension or drama but the dramatic or the tension level doesn’t need to be high. Just think of a series of events that happened to you that might be worth sharing with others. I remember one piece I wrote that was about a Saturday afternoon ritual at our house every week when I was growing up — about how my father shined his shoes to get ready for church the next day. It was simple, but it was a personal experience piece. And it worked.
Ever spent time with a famous person, either before or after he or she gained fame? Have you lived in or visited an exotic place? Had an accident or illness or attempted a difficult feat? Set up a party for a group of school children? Taken part in a special holiday celebration? Write about it.
The experience doesn’t even have to be your own. If a friend or colleague had a memorable event, you can write about that. Think about the event, put it into action, talk about the characters involved, the outcome, the lesson you or they learned. Limit the statements about how you felt to two or three specific actions.
Let the story build on its own emotion so readers will relate to what’s happened. Keep the piece smooth and tight. If possible, come up with a surprise ending.
Where should you send your piece? Family and women’s publications are good markets for personal experience pieces, as are many local newspapers and magazines. Look for other markets that use these pieces. The magazine section of a bookstore is a good place to see which other publications use personal experience pieces. Just checking through a variety of them will show you how popular personal experiences pieces are.
Also check the library for copies of additional publications and study the style and structure of the personal experience pieces you find in them. The key to getting these pieces published is to keep them in the mail — either U.S. mail or email. And you should know that, In general, publications pay better than average for good personal experiences.
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