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How to write a Personal story for magazines

You've experienced or done things that can interest others. These things 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. Here's how to to write one.


Personal Experience Article

The Style: First person (use the word 'I')

Length: From 800 – 3000 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 events. But a personal experience essay must focus on a single moment of expertise and not feel like you are writing about your WHOLE LIFE or WHOLE STORY.


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 .... lost a child / saved a life / drowned / fell down a cliff / won the lotto / have an autistic child / sleep for 18 hours a day / shot my wife / changed my gender / was bulimic.

I did it – expertise.

You have done it, and your lessons can help others.

I ..... 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 or bigger story.


Find a tight example as your way into the story (your hook)

Use details and sensory descriptions.

Use dialogue or reported speech if possible. Let yourself speak, and other characters speak to you.

Focus on a very specific moment in time. Try to describe that experience so that the reader feels they are there.

​Find your tone. These can be deeply personal, or light and funny.

Use the ‘I DID IT! Format you see below. Don't deviate too far from it.



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 $1 a day

Make it even better? Give it a message.


Need some examples? Here are some great examples of different styles of My Story articles

I was shot by a stranger. For no reason.

I went to a sex resort ....and learned its like Spring Break for Millennials

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