Writing About Yourself


By Karen Wingate


Everyone has a story to tell, and only you can tell your story.

I heard that phrase many times when I first attended writers’ conferences. As my writing resume grew, aspiring writers would tell me, “I want to write a book. Boy, do I have a story to tell.”

We often conclude that means a full-length memoir or the short version of a personal experience story. But something inside me resisted. I don’t want to tell the whole shebang. Who would want to hear my story anyway?


A book editor confirmed my hesitation. “You have to have a large platform or a really unique story for a memoir to sell.” Her guidance showed me how to tell my story in other creative ways. After all, part of the joy of writing is to write creatively, right?


I turned my idea of a memoir into a devotional, telling my story in a loose, chronological order through sixty short chapters that allowed my reader to share in my spiritual discoveries. Through this, I learned some important tips about telling a personal story:


It's not about you.

Consider how others will perceive what you say. With each new manuscript, I set an overarching goal: After reading this, my reader will . . . Then I write toward that goal of what I want my reader to gain.


Your story is a composite of many stories.

You don’t have to write your life history from beginning to end. Instead, focus on the everyday slice-of-life moments. Readers will find it easier to remember and relate to a moment in time instead of an epic tale.


Explore your options.

How many ways can you tell the same story? This is where the creative fun begins. Write your story as a 300-word devotion. Then rewrite it as a 1200-word personal experience story or a 1500-word how-to article. Write it for children, then slant it to an audience of older adults.


Let the story simmer.

If the story just happened, your emotions may be too raw for public consumption. You need time to process. Your first draft will help you see your story from God’s perspective—write it as if you are having a conversation with Him. Then, when it’s time, rewrite the story to fit the slant of audience you want to reach.


Hone your writing skills.

For years, I wrote everything from curriculum to articles, blog posts, letters, even published jokes. When the opportunity came to write my story, I had the experience and credibility to do it and had built an audience ready to hear it.


Your story or montage of stories is important. God invites you to share your message of hope. The good news is that a “tell-all” book length manuscript is not the only option. Like a master artist, find delight in sculpting your story in multiple ways so you reach the broadest audience with the words of hope you have to share.

 Photo by Maegan Martin on Unsplash


As a writer, Karen Wingate has often joked that she didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up. Through her years of raising her family and working with her husband in local small churches, Karen wrote educational curriculum, devotions, short stories for children, how-to articles for families, and journalistic articles for church leadership magazines. She is the author of the award-winning devotional book, With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights Into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind (Kregel, 2021) that tells of her personal journey of discovering the joy of new eyesight after decades of living with legal blindness. Two more of Karen’s devotional style books will release later this year.


Karen now knows what she wants to do when she grows up. She wants to write and speak for Jesus. She’s doing that—and loving every moment! You can connect with Karen on her website at karenwingate.com.


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