You've experienced or done things that can interest others. These don't have to be earth shattering -- just incidents that others can relate to or may find meaningful. Of course, if the experience changed your life in a profound way, all the better for this type of article. I always get my writers to write one, and submit it to a magazine. It is part of your brand building. Here's how to write one.
Style: First person
Length: From 800 – 2500 words
All magazines have space for a gripping ‘It happened to me” personal essay. Well executed, they are a great read. The challenge is to select one thing. The tendency with all writers it so write about everything, to include so many things, lessons and event. But a personal experience essay must focus on a single moment of expertise and not feel like you are writing about your WHOLE LIFE.
You will write one with a view to sending it off to a magazine of your choice.
I lived through it. There is a huge market for articles about how to cope with
painful trauma, loss or tragedy. These are different from coping articles written by experts – these are articles written by people who have done it, lived and got on with life.
I did it – expertise. You have done it, and your lessons can help others… started my own business, wrote a book, made a million, home-schooled my children, built a yacht, conquered ME, lived with the Eskimos, ate raw fish for a year.
Write a list of at least 5 articles you could write from your own life right now that somehow link to your book. Choose the one you most want to write now.
Use the ‘I DID IT! Format you see below
I DID IT / IT HAPPENED TO ME
I left my husband and newborn child and lived on the streets
I married a crack addict
I was the 14th wife of a cult leader
I had an affair with my brother
I made a billion by the time I was 20
I backpacked through Asia on R200
I lost 18kgs on a beetroot fast and nearly died
I lost a child / saved a life / drowned / fell down a cliff / won the lotto / haven’t eaten for a year / have an autistic child / sleep for 18 hours a day / shot my wife / changed my gender / was bulimic. …
Make it even better? Turn a personal experience from a ‘what I did’ into a ‘how you can do it’ piece.
Give it a message. Use the format below:
I DID IT / IT HAPPENED TO ME …. AND I LEARNED …….
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and coaches writers on how to write and get published.