Capture Your Personal Experiences
Excitement was in the air at our house. For the first time in years, our adult children gathered at our dining room table for Thanksgiving. Weeks of planning went into this event with multiple trips to the airport (as well as to the grocery store). Finally the big day arrived.
The food was excellent and everyone gathered at the table—except for one son-in-law who was present yet uttered some excuse that prevented him from sitting with the rest of us.
Yes a disappointment yet also an opportunity. We decided not to let this person ruin our joy and thankfulness and instead we learned to choose to celebrate the gathering of family and our time together.
My story needs more detail but does give you a real recent event in my family. Yet notice I don't just tell it for the sake of telling it. I draw you to a point or take away or a reason for the story.
We've just gone through the holiday of Thanksgiving and I suspect many of you have had unique and interesting personal experiences. Are you writing these experiences down so you recall the dialogue, the feelings and the taste and smells?
These experiences can be writing opportunities for magazine articles, an illustration for your nonfiction book or fodder for your work-in-progress novel. I encourage you to capture the details shortly after it happens so you can recall it. Maybe slip away to your keyboard and write the words when they are raw. Or you can add them to a journal so you remember them.
Almost every magazine uses personal experience stories—and in particular they are looking for articles connected to a holiday. Often magazines are working three to six months in the future. If you have these holiday stories, they can be used for next year's writing assignments.
One of the critical elements for any personal experience story is to lead the reader with the stories to a single point or take away. The take away can be your final paragraph or sentences.
Some of these experiences will have great joy while others will be a challenge or difficulty that you found the path to complete. As you find that path and write about it, you can help others who travel the same journey and experience the same emotions.
In this holiday season, I encourage you to look for these little stories and build them into your writing life.