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Kari's Tips on Writing Your Story

“It is simply not an adventure worth telling if there arenít any dragons.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

Woman Writing


When my 22 year marriage ended in an unexpected, unwanted divorce, I told a friend, “If I survive this with my soul and sanity intact, someday I’m going to write about it to help other women.” But I was in survival mode then, comforting and raising my daughter, working to put a roof over our heads and food on our table, and emotionally coping. Time to write was relegated to those hours when sleep evaded me and I wrestled with loss, scribbling angry letters to God on a tear-stained legal pad of paper.

At that time I had no idea how or when or if I would ever have written for publicationónor could I imagine that legal pad evolving into a journal and years later my journal entries becoming research notes for a book. But thatís how it happens. Thatís how God works. In His time. In our hearts. We need time to begin to see clearly what we have been through so we can show others the flickers of hope along the way. Otherwise, weíll scare our readers with our dark emotions and tunnel-vision thinking that every light is an oncoming train. See Mini-Journal of Hope and Gratitude

Good writing works form a simple premise: Your experience is not yours alone,
but in some sense a metaphor for everyone’s. — Poets Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux


  • Look at your emotions.  Can you distance yourself and talk about your experience objectively as an observer? Or are you still the main subject of what you’re writing about—crying uncontrollably and actively grieving or seeking revenge?
  • Observe the pronouns. Is your article exclusively about “me, myself, and I?” Or do you reach out to your readers. Remember that readers are selfish. They want to see themselves in your story and how what you have been through helps them.
  • Examine your writing for balance.  Are you providing your readers with something they can take away and apply to their lives? Have you included facts and statistics along with your personal experience? Do you have quotations from experts? Have you thought about adding anecdotes about others with similar experiences? Can you write a sidebar offering helplful tips, such as “Five Things To Do When You’re Blue”?
  • Be open to critique from someone else.  Are you willing to let a family member, trusted friend, or writing professional offer suggestions on your writing?
  • Check the tone of your writing. Are you walking beside the reader giving them hope that they, too, can and will survive? Or are you stuck at your own pity party?
Woman writing

Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper
until the drops of blood form on your forehead. — Etty Hillesum

 Copyright 2002-2010 by Kari West   Webmaster: Red Apple Recording