Brainstorm Personal Essay Topics: Nonfiction Writing Prompt #9

write a personal essayMany of this month’s blog posts and all of the writing prompts have focused on developing article ideas and pitching them to publications. Whether you want to promote your nonfiction books or create a career as a freelance writer, writing articles is an essential skill for nonfiction writers. In additional to writing articles based on your knowledge or on expert interviews you might conduct, however, you can also write articles based upon your experience. In fact, producing personal essays can be both fun and profitable. Not only that, they also can support your career as a writer and author.

Personal essays tend to focus on one particular event and how it affected you or your life. They often have universal themes that makes it possible for readers to relate to personal stories.

Because personal essays provide readers with a chance to glimpse your life and to go on an emotional journey with you, not only do they have a chance to relate to you, they also get to know you. This makes them more likely to purchase your books, programs and services.

Nonfiction Writing Prompt #9: Brainstorm Personal Essay Topics

Today, take time to brainstorm life events and personal experiences you might write about in a personal essay. If you aren’t sure what type of topic would make good fodder for a personal essay, ask yourself these questions:

  • What have I experienced that changed my life?
  • What have I experienced that changed my perspective?
  • What struggles, obstacles or challenges have I overcome?
  • What miracles have I received?
  • What ordinary things do I see in extraordinary ways?
  • What ordinary life experiences have I had that I see in extraordinary ways?
  • How can my life or experiences help, inspire or offer hope to others?

Don’t worry right now about how to write the essay, just come up with 4-5 ideas that excite you.

If you want to know how to write a personal essay, this post will help.

Did you discover that your life could be a gold mine of essay topics? Tell me below in a comment.

NonfictionWritersUniv300For more information on how to find the best market for your article, as well as how to write and send a query letter to a magazine editor, receive this month’s Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU) Homework Assignment when you join the NFWU. It’s chock full of tips! Plus, you’ll receive a recording of this months NFWU teleseminar “How to Start Your Freelance Writing Career” with Nina Amir. Join here at the low introductory rate!

February NFWU Teleseminar: 2/18/14 @ 12 pm PT – How to Mind Map Your Nonfiction Book Before You Begin to Write” with Book Coach Roger Parker. Join the NFWU to reserve your spot. (Members also get recordings of the events, access to the forum, bonus products, and more…) Learn about the benefits of membership when you click here.

photo credit: uniondocs via photopin cc


  1. I had quite a few such essays in high school and they were one of the reasons I felt led to believe I could, and should, get into writing.

    • I actually love writing personal essays! You write off the top of your head, as I like to say, with no research needed. But you can go from your own myopic viewpoint to a wide-angle view that is universal. How cool is that? And there are tons of markets for personal essays. Thanks for commenting, Barbara. I hope you’ll write some more essays.


  1. […]  Nina Amir posts writing prompts on her blog.  Her January 31, 2014 post, about personal essays, includes Writing Prompt #9, Brainstorm Personal Essay topics. […]

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