How to Use Life Story and Personal Experience in Articles

Often writers want to use life stories and personal experiences in their writing. They think the only way to do so in the realm of nonfiction involves writing a memoir. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yesterday I offered 10 ways to use life story in nonfiction writing. Today, I’d like to expand on how to do so in an article.

An article is defined as nonfiction prose making up an independent part of a magazine or newspaper. Most articles are written by an expert or by a journalist or writer who has interviewed experts and compiled  and analyzed the information obtained into a cohesive format. Lots of different types of articles exists, such a how-to, news, features, lifestyle, personal essay, etc.

The articles that lend themselves to life story, personal experience and anecdote are how to, features and personal essay. I am going to focus on how-to articles today.

If you have learned something from your life experience, you become an expert and can write an article that offers people advice, steps or some other form of how-to information based on that expertise. You also can take your experience and expertise and back it up with the authority of other experts. This entails interviewing them and then including the information they provide in your article. Quoting them in your article lends credibility.

You  also can write about issues you have dealt with or are dealing with in your life. Maybe you’d like to find answers to those problems, difficulties or obstacles. You can seek out experts who can provide solutions, answers, advice, steps, and resources, which you, in turn, can offer to readers in your article.

A great format for an article that draws on life story or personal experience might use an anecdote or vignette as the lead, or first paragraph, of your article. This entices readers into the article by creating a scene or describing the issue you plan to discuss or lesson learned. Follow this with a line or two, possibly even a paragraph, that describes the actual point of the article. Basically, tell the reader what the article is about or what you plan to offer them — the value you will give them or the information they will gain.

Next, in the body of the article, lay out all your data, steps, resources, quotes, and other how-to or helpful advice. You might even weave in some additional anecdotes about how the steps worked for you or how different tips or pieces of advice helped you along the way. If you have approached experts for help with a problem, maybe they have anecdotes you can add in into the body of the article.

Finally, end with another anecdote or vignette if possible. Or else, simple summarize the advice you’ve offered.

Everyday you add to your body of experiences or you encounter new issues, problems and opportunities. All of these provide you with ample fodder for articles in which you can put your life story and personal experiences to use in the form of anecdotes.


  1. Thank you. I’ve looked at your site. I didn’t see the Trackback, but it looks like you are doing nice memoir work. Keep it up! And thanks for the vote of support. Happy writing and good luck to you.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nina Amir, Writing Novels. Writing Novels said: How to Use Life Story and Personal Experience in Nonfiction …: Often writers want to use their life stories .. […]

  2. Bits of wisdom from BJ…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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