Friday, August 19, 2022

How to Incorporate Our Personal Stories in Our Writing

by Crystal Bowman 

When I meet with people at writer’s conferences, I find that many attend because they have a personal story to tell and are not sure how to go about getting it published. Their story is important to them, and they want to share it with others. Some hope their story will encourage others who can relate to their experience. Some want to share their story to show how God did something amazing in their life, while others believe their story will put a smile on someone’s face.

One woman told me, “I am a breast cancer survivor, and my friends tell me I need to write a book.” Another young woman shared how she had been sexually abused as a child and wants to bring awareness to the all-too-common disturbing crime. A young father shared his struggles raising a son with special needs, and a mom with eleven children said stories about her kids would fill the pages of a book. 

Many of the writers I meet are trying to publish something for the first time and believe their story needs to be a book. Their motives are honest and sincere. However, most personal stories don’t open the door to a five-figure contract from a traditional publishing house. 

But here’s the good news: There is a place for personal stories besides a book with your name on the cover. 

Options for Using Personal Stories

My son and daughter-in-law went through a dark and lonely journey with infertility. When they finally had their first child, my daughter-in-law wanted to write a book to help other couples facing infertility. I made her realize that her story alone was not enough for a book. Infertility encompasses a wide variety of issues, and her story was only one of many. I got the idea to create a compilation of stories so we could reach a much broader audience. We collected stories from 30 different women, each with their own unique experience. Mothers In Waiting—Hope and Encouragement for Those with Empty Arms was published by Harvest House in 2019. My daughter-in-law, as well as 29 other women, were able to share their personal stories to offer hope to others.

For those who don’t want to create their own compilation book, books like Chicken Soup for the Soul and magazines like Guidepost are just a couple of publications that welcome personal stories. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series covers every topic on earth (and heaven), and Guidepost Magazine is known for personal, heartwarming stories and faith-affirming, inspirational articles.

A Great Resource

If you are not sure how to find a good fit for your personal story, a great resource is The Christian Writers Market Guide by Steve Laube. It’s packed with information on publishing options and will help you find a place for your personal story. It may not become a New York Times bestseller, but God uses our stories to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Trust Him to help you share the story He put on your heart.


Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children and four nonfiction books for women. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. She loves going to schools to teach kids about poetry. She also speaks at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups and teaches workshops at writers’ conferences. When she is not writing or speaking, she enjoys going for walks, working out at the gym, and eating ice cream. She and her husband live in Michigan and have seven huggable grandkids. 

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