Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Writing an Inspirational or Self-Help Article

"The key to writing art of living articles is to write an article that will make a difference in someone's life -- to provide the reader with something to hold on to and take away into her own life." 

(Michelle Ruberg, Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing at http://www.amazon.ca/Writers-Handbook-Magazine-Article-Writing/dp/1582973342)



According to Michelle Ruberg, there are four types of art of living articles:

1.  Inspiration

The inspirational article uses life events to entice readers, to make them feel connected.  Angela Adair Hoy writes inspirational articles in her popular column "News from the Home Office", part of her newsletter Writersweekly.com. One example is her story "How Small is Bangor, Maine?  Well, I'll tell ya..."

2.  Faith 

Twenty-five years ago, the circulation of faith and religious magazines was down.  However, since 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the demand for such magazines has increased.  Michelle Ruberg says that Americans remain predominantly Christian and that 6 out of 10 Americans reports attending church on at least a semi-regular basis.  The journal Commonweal (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/) publishes articles which draw a link between worldly concerns and religious beliefs.  

3.  Self-help

Self-help articles provide help for those going through a similar experience to the author.  There is power in sharing your story, in showing others they are not alone.  These articles often include sidebars with interviews with experts, statistics, tables and charts.  Ladies Home Jounral (http://www.divinecaroline.com/ladies-home-journalfeatures) self-help stories about beauty/fashion, food/nutrition, home decor, parenting and current events.

4.  Personal Essay

The personal essay ties a personal experience with a universal truth.  Michelle Ruberg warns you not to "wander into the realm of the cliche" when writing the personal essay.  Rather, strike an emotional chord by using descriptive sentences and visual images.  Don't forget to choose a theme which ties the essay together.  You might pick a familiar object, phrase or song to be the centre of the piece and work your ideas around it.  Since it's a self-help topic, Michelle Ruberg suggests the Beatles' song "I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends".  More than 400 American magazines publish personal essays including Guideposts (www.guideposts.org) and The New York Times Magazine (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/magazine/index.html).

Note:  Here is my inspirational article from 2012 that I wrote for the Christian Courier about adoption and infertility called "Battling Infertility:  Three Couples Stories of Hope" at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/140255167/May-14_-2012-Issue-_2936---Christian-Courier.








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