Inspirational Writing

Originally part of the Suite101 University ecourses offered for free. This content is being removed by Suite101 and I wanted to preserve some of it so others could take the course and for myself to remember the information.

Inspirational Writing

By Sara Quest



Inspirational publications like “Chicken Soup for the Soul” reveal today’s demand for writers of everyday miracles. Yes, people like you who want to tug hearts are in demand! The original Chicken Soup book expanded to become a series of approximately sixty titles, including ones like “Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul” and “Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul.” All titles combined sold over 75 million copies.

What you are not aware of is, the Chicken authors were once writers with unfathomable dreams. They wanted to share the numerous stories of everyday people like you who inspired them during their motivational speaking careers. And like you, they knew struggle: not one publisher of the one hundred twenty three they approached wanted that original “Chicken Soup” book! But their stories found the way to the right publisher.

The inspirational market is NOW awaiting YOUR contribution!

You are about to go on a journey of self-discovery that will teach you how to turn life into valuable material capable of fostering the growth of your soul and career. This course will show you how to translate life’s insight onto page. Being glued to a computer screen IS an enlightening event, one that can result in spiritual and financial growth. So enter: some famous writers are about to share their inspirational lessons. And, you will learn you are not alone in your perseverance, that golden asset resulting in the writer’s finest material.

Lesson 1: Never Fear, Inspiration’s Here!


“It takes only one story to…inspire a song, create a bond, alter a path, heal a heart, mend a rift, rescue a soul, transform a relationship, re-affirm a marriage, save a life. One story can change the world.” — Patty Hansen and Joy Pieterse, excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul Website

Feeling positive through a sense of purpose means each time you write, you have the satisfaction of knowing it is being done for a grander good. The “grander good” often involves two aspects:

  • Conquering an obstacle
  • Easing a fear

When writing about conquering an obstacle or fear, content must be preventive. “Preventive” means the content should stop a bad situation from happening: you have overcome your pitfalls, so you are able to write about each one and how others might avoid them. The idea is to aid readers in attaining your wisdom without their having to go through the same tumultuous situation.

By revealing circumstances that turned you yellow and their corresponding solutions, you will have produced some very helpful material.

Or better yet — you will have inspired a song, created a bond, altered a path, healed a heart, mended a rift, rescued a soul, transformed a relationship, re-affirmed a marriage or saved a life.

In short, using trials and tribulations as focuses for your writing should serve to keep others and you bravely inspired.


Flagpole Underwear


If ever there was a trial-and-tribulation example writing would be it as it ranks high on the Fear, or “Flagpole Underwear,” factor:

When a writer submits work for judgment it is like hanging their underwear on a flagpole for a critical audience to check it for cleanliness — the whole time, the writer is praying their work doesn’t stink! If the consensus is it does, the writer can only learn from indicated mistakes.

I am the sort of writer who suffers from Is-My-Underwear-Good-Enough-Syndrome. When a company accepts me for a new project, syndrome “side effects” include worry over my contribution’s initially crude qualities and pride over its genuine ones.

As an inspirational writer you must learn to center your own energies on your writing’s genuine, humane qualities while accepting the crude ones — the flaws — as inevitable errors open to correction via word processing programs or dictionaries.

It will be your overall attitude of allowing human fear and flaw their places in your writing that will give others reason to call attention to their own Underoos.

Lesson 1: Never Fear, Inspiration’s Here!

The Rejection Section

There is a true story from the book Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul regarding a young woman whose college professor dissuades her from writing. He tells her her writing is terrible, and he can’t understand how she was accepted into the school. He says he’ll “help” her pass the class IF she promises never to write again. She agrees then doesn’t write for fourteen years, although writing has always been her dream.

One day the woman tells a journalist the story about her professor’s rejection of her desire to write. The journalist is shocked she gave up writing so easily. He even encourages her to send her work to him should she decide to write again. She does. He adores what she wrote. As a result, she submits her work to an agent who accepts her talent immediately.

“I will never give up my dreams again. Never,” the woman resolves.

The writer is Catherine Lanigan, author of bestselling works like Romancing the Stone and Dangerous Love, both which became hit Hollywood films — and these examples are just a couple out of the plethora of megahits created by the author.

As a writer who has submitted over one hundred article queries, column proposals and stories that were scoffed at, I am an expert of rejection. But I have learned enough about negativity to know it is subjective.

For instance, the other day I received a reply for a poem I’d submitted to an online publisher. The reply went something as follows: “Strangling syntax to achieve end rhyme is grossly outdated.”

My advice is to regard such opinionated comments as semi-constructive. By semi-constructive I mean: determine what educational value they provide. Can you research the rejection’s ideas then produce a modern article? Is the editor who made the comment respected in their industry? In my situation, the editor represented a small, quality publisher who produced literary works and poetry. I learned this: once the bruised soul heals, it learns!


If that same poem hadn’t previously been awarded Dana Literary Society’s Certificate of Excellence, my spirits would have sunk truly low. That it did do well elsewhere served to show the rejecting attitude IS subjective. Other professionals felt the opposite toward that poem — so what might be learned from the rejection?


Should the rejecting editor have said, “Classical-styled poetry has less of a market nowadays than free verse. If you’d like to submit a free-styled poem, I’d be happy to reconsider” — I would have felt encouraged to learn about free style poetry and why it is more popular today than classical styles. Using your rejections as new experiences to learn and write from will prime you for more constructive suggestions.

For instance, I once had a college professor who taught a course on Samuel Johnson, an author he seemed to worship.

He began each lesson by entering the room and announcing, “Good evening, my students.”

He was a man who adored coaching students on life aspects through all he’d learned of Johnson.

While I didn’t find Johnson to be all that fascinating, my opinion of my professor was quite opposite. His enthusiasm was contagious and I looked forward to each late-night class when he would give us his brand of constructive inspiration.

Nearing finals, he told us he understood we were going through the pressure of studying — and of fearing failure.

“I will not let any of you fail this course,” he said.

He also said he knew many of us were feeling depressed and that this was normal.

“It is a proven fact people who think a lot are inclined toward depression. As students, your minds are constantly turning, making you prone to experience all kinds of emotion, including depression. The cure is also proven. It is being with people.”

He continued: “I know life seems hard right now but you have my word you will succeed in this course. And, there is something you can do to combat fear any time it hits: ask God that what is happening to you is happening for a reason.”

I’m no church-goer. Still, each time I’ve felt truly fearful since that advice, I’ve looked upward saying, “I ask that what is happening to me is happening for a reason.” And, an answer has always come without fail!

While I remember what my teacher looked like (ruddy complexion, serious eyes, man in late-forties), I can’t for the life of me remember his name. I want to say it was along the lines of “Goodman.”

Whatever the name, each of us took a moment after finals to thank the good man for his many wise words.

When it was my turn, I looked him square in the face and said, “Thank you SO much for your guidance.”

I wanted to say more, to indicate he had touched my soul deeply. Then something strange happened. My teacher’s response was a TERSE “thank you.” Had I said something wrong?

As it turns out, I had been so busy preparing my first one-on-one with my new hero, I’d not noticed him behaving the same way with all other students. It wasn’t until I was backing out of his classroom to get a last look at him that I discovered he was giving every student that brief note of thanks.

Which is when the realization came: this man had devoted a full semester’s worth of lending us his most precious advice.

In addition to educating us, he’d taken care of our spiritual need. Our thanks WERE appreciated, but not necessary.

As I watched my mentor silently incorporate each student’s thanks, it became clear he felt his station in life, to make a difference in ours, had been fulfilled. THAT was all he opted to speak for!

Like my professor, you have a gift: to speak for what you believe in through writing. You have a gift to share your compassion and integrity, two strong sources of inspiration.

And, as someone inspired, you too will find a grateful audience.


Think of a recent rejection, however small it might have been. Find a quiet moment, even if the only moment available is while sitting on the porcelain goddess. Turn your face upward and ask, “Why did it happen?” A sense of an answer to your question should come.

Now ask, “What can be learned?”

Write your answers then follow the advice.

Write what happened as a result. You are encouraged to share your writing in Discussions.

Lesson 1: Never Fear, Inspiration’s Here!

Writers in Prison

In Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, Claire Braz-Valentine contributes a personal story titled “Writers in Prison.” It involves her conducting a guest writing workshop at Susanville State Prison in Northern California. She explains men there are in for drugs and have no quiet time for contemplation.

A young, handsome man in the workshop declines to show her his writing or share in group discussion. However, a miraculous event occurs, evidenced on the last day of workshop when students are invited to share what they’ve spent days focusing on.

The young man again refuses to share. But his peers encourage him to do so, promising they won’t judge. So, he shares. He tells Valentine and his classmates he is dead. He “died” when he came to prison as a drug addict. He also explains that during the course of the workshop he wrote from the heart, discovering he could write well. He resolves his story (and life) with, “I died a drug addict and I was reborn as a writer.”

The power of self discovery and worth through writing instead of negative influences like drugs is evident, along with the promise of a bright future – even for a man who thought he was “dead” inside.

This story shows how writing a piece and its resolution can do wonders for a life. By writing with hope and purpose, the young man discovered his regrets over doing drugs and his subsequent need to do something healthy – to write. When he formulated a resolution within his essay, he was doing so within his life as well.

With this knowledge in mind, it should suffice to say all writing has the power to uplift. Knowing how to write an uplifting work is half the battle. The following exercise should help you learn how.


Write about something that evokes a numb, or “dead,” response of defense within you. Why does this happen? What can you do to prevent it?

Lesson 1: Never Fear, Inspiration’s Here!


Chicken Soup for the Soul Website (About Us):

Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, “My Professor and Me” by Catherine Lanigan and “Writers in Prison” by Claire Braz-Valentine

Lesson 2: Write for Your Life.

The great novelist Toni Morrison said, “There’s a difference between writing for a living and writing for life. If you write for a living, you make enormous compromises and you might not ever be able to uncompromise yourself. If you write for life, you’ll work hard, you’ll do what’s honest, not what pays.” Still, having the desire to write for life, or record hard-earned insight from actual events, can lead you to write for pay.

Being rewarded in cash for doing something you love should not be considered a bad thing. Remuneration gives a writer further incentive to nurture an already fulfilling activity.

Every trade master began his/her dream through practice and nurture. Skilled doctors, carpenters and singers once set out to accomplish small but adored goals each day because they loved their hobby enough to make it a part of their life.

As a writer, you can do the same. Nurture your hobby daily by learning to recognize share-worthy situations then recording them on paper.

As a human being you have a natural inclination to share experiences. By doing what comes naturally you should become an expert at this business.



The Heart of the Matter

Learn to capture the heart of the matter. The idea is to present everything that is “the story.”

For example, you are writing an essay about a kind stranger who helped you pick up some spilled groceries. Does it matter what sort of groceries spilled? Probably not, unless the stranger commented on how s/he buys all the same brands, beginning a new friendship with you. Might it matter how s/he behaved while helping? Absolutely. The heart of your essay is, after all, the heart of the stranger — any of her/his actions are significant.


Very simply stated, write plainly. Using plain language will allow you to present one important point then move to the next, which will better serve you in presenting the story — which will motivate your readers to enjoy all you’ve written. And, writer-Reader communication can be a valuable asset.

Take Lois Duncan, author of the book (and film) “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” As a teenager she wanted to write for audiences her age. She studied teen magazines. Before she was out of high school she had learned how to contribute concise and helpful articles to Seventeen Magazine.

Her secret? Focusing her writing on what she has learned.


Duncan wrote a section in our recommended book titled “How to Write Your Way Through College.” The section describes how she was a professional writer and mother of five children who up and decided to go to college. She needed a way to help with family income. So she came up with a scheme: she would sell everything she learned. Her husband didn’t believe she could do it but was willing to give her a chance.

As an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico, she turned targeted skills into effective articles, poems and books! Using textual quotes and those supplied during professor lectures, she came up with the following:

From Psychology 101, she wrote an article titled “Our Son was Uncontrollable” for the “My Problem and How I Solved It” section of Good Housekeeping magazine.

From a Poetry Writing course, she sold poems to Guideposts and Woman’s Day magazine.

Additionally, she was inspired by a class in Edgar Allan Poe to create a Poe-like novel: “Down the Dark Hall” is still in book stores today — and novel writing became a hit and life’s work for Duncan.

A “Myths” class gave her the information necessary to sell works to The Encyclopedia Britannica.

Most importantly, literature courses created new goals of writing proficiency for her. She ended up tripling her writing income and some!

Using Duncan’s example, each time you write about a subject you should ask, what have I learned? Your answer is your story.

*Note: From a course in Photo Journalism, Duncan sold one hundred fifty photos to publishers. She even created a book with photos and poems of children that sold to a religious publishing house. Per number of photos Duncan sold, it is evident submitting photos for reference increases the likelihood of being accepted by publishers (and you have my permission to use an average camera)!


Think of a learning situation. What would you write about it?

Lesson 2: Write for Your Life.

They Aren’t Called ‘Role Models’ for Nuthin’.

We all have days when the only difference between us and the corpses at our local morgue is we’re breathing and they aren’t. What to do if such a day is the day you write? Dress yourself in the best attitude possible.

A positive attitude influences whether or not you’ll be equipped to write for life. This includes writing when having a throat culture would be more entertaining.



Do you have a writing role model(s)? If you do you know as sure as the sun exists, a content muse is whispering in their ear daily. If you don’t, I invite you to share mine, below!

Having a role model(s) is the ticket for your continued contentment. Use whatever keeps them inspired to do the same for you. You will find most writers have home or web pages devoted to a personal biography and writing samples. Keep in mind you are welcome to steal their uplifting careers! What I mean by this is you should use the list of credits within their biography to consider options for yourself. I’ve learned from investigating my role models’ credentials they put their hearts and souls into writing creative and motivational works.

What follows is information about two of my role models, a sampling of their works and links to the writers’ guidelines of publications they’ve written for. Through these examples you should get a feel for the positive writing persona, the sort of writing derived from it and the types of publications and guidelines suited for it.

1) Renie Burghardt, a gracious and talented elder of mine, is a prolific anthology writer. She wrote one of the most popular columns at is an Internet search community unique for its five hundred plus contributing editors. It was not unusual for Renie’s articles to draw over one hundred discussion postings. Her column was called “Nature Sketches.” Each article was infused with grace and beauty. Since, Renie has become a professional writer, writing informational pamphlets and such.

You may view Renie’s “Suite” profile here:…

One particularly stunning article of hers is “The Ghost of Lost Creek Hollow.” To write it Renie used the true love story of a female friend who with her husband, began building a majestic home. The husband died en res but remained on earth to help her finish building the house. The story, also accepted for publishing by, may be read here:…

Links to Writers’ Guidelines of Publications Renie Has Written For:

Chicken Soup for the Soul — Guideposts –… Cup of Comfort —

2) Jenna Glatzer is a young woman whose writing I first encountered in several informative articles she’d written for Writer’s Digest magazine. I liked her concise, friendly style so I checked out her website Absolute Write, where one can sign up to receive a free newsletter that includes free writer’s markets.

Jenna is a sinfully persistent writer who has written articles and books, among other writing endeavors. To view her COMPLETE biography, go here (and jot notes)

Links to Writers’ Guidelines of Publishers Jenna Has Written For: —… Hunter House – Lyons Press —

Notice how each role model has written for some higher good, allowing them to stay positive and persistent. In Renie’s case, her writing educates readers by way of natural beauty and truth. In Jenna’s case, she uses how-to content to help writers like herself improve on skill.

Follow a similar formula and you will become a role model — perhaps for yourself.

Lesson 2: Write for Your Life.

Writers Unite to Make Things Right

Consider author Richard Paul Evans. He is best known for his book “The Christmas Box,” which is about an ambitious man who favors work over his children. Through a box of letters, he learns the woman his family is caring for once lost a child much like the one Christmas was named after, much like his own still alive.

This tale made its way around town, eventually winding up a bestseller. Angel statues like the graveside one mentioned within the story sprang up everywhere, symbolizing the loss, love and healing of parents who have suffered the inordinate grief of losing a child. is the author’s official website. Should you wish to be updated on each new powerful book Evans has written, just subscribe to the newsletter mentioned.

What follows is one of his newsletters:

“I wanted to wish you a joyful Thanksgiving. We Americans have so much to be grateful for. As I have just completed the first two weeks of my book tour I am reminded of how grateful I am for my readers. Thank you for reading my books and sharing their messages. I received good news last Wednesday; The Last Promise has debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at number ten, right between Sue Grafton and Anne Rice. This would not have been possible without your support. May you and your loved ones have a blessed Thanksgiving and find much to celebrate.

Sincerely, Richard”

Clearly, writing for “life” AND for “right” is a powerful recipe.

Lesson 2: Write for Your Life.


Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, “How to Write Your Way through College” by Lois Duncan’s “Nature Sketches” column:…

“The Ghost of Lost Creek Hollow:”…

Absolute Write:

Richard Paul Evans Official Website:

Lesson 3: Persistence that Pays

“Great works are performed not by strength but perseverance.” – Dr. Samuel Johnson


Luney for Learning

Lois Duncan wrote her way through college, right? With five kids and a booming career writing for top magazines like Good Housekeeping and Reader’s Digest there must have been at least one moment when Duncan questioned the idea she might be batt-luney for becoming an undergrad during her career’s height.

Or was there? She clearly knew something valuable when she saw it — that using every available learning source toward writing is as much an investment in self. Not one of Duncan’s undergraduate courses went wasted. She got the most out of each class, selling to a widespread variety of top-rate publications. And, from the courses that didn’t result in sales her talent as a writer multiplied, eventually landing her in her most successful role as popular novelist!

The trick for you is making activities within your own life into valuable sources the way Duncan did. The solution is so easy it’s embarassing (evidence of my “Is-My-Underwear-Good-Enough Syndrome” showing). Just follow this exercise:

Ask yourself which activities in your life are valuable LEARNING sources. Whichever ones they are, these are the ones capable of resulting in your best writing material.


  • Taking a Child to Day Care — See all those frayed books covered in drool? Gold mines! One year-old Cynthia is learning to speak words. Each picture book in the room was created by an author familiar with the development of the one year-old. Take your child and a stack then read some.Now go home and write. You could write an article about books for toddlers based on the common element of one sentence per page. In it, you could recall your child’s reactions, showing how the format is effective.
  • Helping a Sick Grandparent — Never had an inclination to learn about Grampa’s life until he broke his arm and now you are sitting in a room with him every night praying for a miracle (a subject to talk about)? Pray no more. What do you two have in common? Not much. He is old, you are young. He is wise, you are not. He knows firsthand what it was like growing up during World War Two.Hey! Why not ask Grampa what it was like? Jot down on a notepad anything he says that serves to interest. Wala! You have a piece that could be titled “What Grampa Lived Through.”
  • Exercising — Maybe this one’s a long shot. Maybe when you run it is more like the shuffle of a constipated buffalo. Maybe there are more people like you in the world than you might think!Try picking up your pace by buying a copy of Runners World. Does it have an inspiring department? An article titled “A Slow Runner Chronicles her Fast Attempt” could fly, perhaps becoming a column.

If you can’t think of any educational activities in your life, find some. Here are some ideas:

  • Attend a college lecture open to the public. Lecturers come in a variety of types: psychologists, animal rights activitsts, artists, writers. I once went to a lecture at Cape Cod Community College given by Jane Goodall, the renowned chimpanzee expert. Her lecture was free — and heartwrenching.Goodall’s slide show included an image of a chimpanzee who had been enclosed in small cage for decades. His drab eyes revealed a broken spirit. While there were also uplifting images of chimpanzees preening and caressing, none so seized my attention the way those sad eyes did. At the time I became inspired to find a way to work with Goodall. For various reasons, writing won in the end. Still, I will never forget the caged chimp. I will never forget the freedom Jane Goodall works toward.If you choose to attend a lecture, bring a notebook. Take notes, being sure to record the lecturer’s credentials. Write down each idea that fascinates, quoting the lecturer. Wala! You have a highly desirable piece for an animal rights publication (or — depending on the lecturer — arts, writing or history publication, etc).
  • Use a daily motivator. Better yet, check-out “The Daily Motivator” website. This site puts environmental images together with powerful words, resulting in motivational sentences such as “What will you do today that will matter tomorrow?” The site’s address is

Lesson 3: Persistence that Pays

Researching Interests

“Find a subject which you care about and which in your heart, feel others should care about. It is the genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” – Kurt Vonnigan

One of the nicest things about being a writer is you get to write whatever you darned well please. Not only that you can claim your insatiable pursuit of personal interest as “research.”

For example I wanted to write this course so I could learn more about famed and inspirational authors, their stories of endurance and credentials. All this in hopes of climbing the ladder as well! That I have found a “job” which validates my hobby is an obvious perk of this trade.


As an exercise in discovery write down a list of activities you would like to pursue. Which ones are “doable?” Circle them. Now place the list in an observable place: magnetized to the fridge, tacked to your forehead — you get the picture. By doing this, you can’t favor the keyboard over the real article (pun intended).

Before you think your writing career will slip down failure’s drain know this: by experiencing life you will be writing your most effective stuff. And, you will be sharing information while improving on the quality of your life.

Lesson 3: Persistence that Pays

Pie in the Sky

See that pie in the sky? It is your writing. Its fruit glistens, melted and delicious. You only saw its crust before, the outline. Now you know its treasures. Yes, your writing has fruits now (I should mention tomorrow is Thanksgiving for me). You are nearly an official “writer for life” — and will soon be acquiring the diploma to prove it.

Reader’s Digest is a magazine teeming with life writers like you and me. It is an inspirational publication whereby talented contributors share true and miraculous stories with a worldwide audience. Contributors tend to be talented lay people, professional writers and famous people like Barbara Bush or Maya Angelou., the Reader’s Digest website, has a “Make Us Laugh” image fresh for clicking by potential contributors. The link brings them (you) to kindergarten-simple submission guidelines. The guidelines will ask you to write one hundred words or less about a true and original story for the following of the magazine’s columns:


  • Life in These United States — Amusing stories in America
  • All in a Day’s Work — Comical happenings on the job
  • Humor in Uniform — Fun stories about life in the armed forces
  • Virtual Hilarity — Computer humor

While your thoughts and submission will take you all of ten minutes, benefits of the deal are life-changing. Should your submission be accepted you will be paid three hundred dollars, not to mention a new writing credential: pie-in-the-sky Reader’s Digest.

If you can crack this publication you are well on your way to a rewarding career as an inspirational writer!

Lesson 3: Persistence that Pays


Biography Lois Duncan:…

Reader’s Digest:

The Daily Motivator:

Lesson 4: Changing the World One Story at a Time


“Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean.” – Percy Ross

Become a Practitioner of Kindness.

By viewing writing as a way to translate your most heart-helpful thoughts onto page you have emerged into a practitioner of kindness, another of the world’s inspirational writers. To be bonafide you must stop living the dual life of writer versus human being and combine the two.

The way to do this is by experiencing, observing and of course, recording.

Ruby Bayan is a freelance writer with an award-winning site, The site provides freelance writing resources and archives and was chosen as a Writer’s Digest Best Writer’s Site.

Articles of the site include “Inspiring the Inspirational Writer.” The article discusses the Inspirational Writer — whom “analyzes our ways and ourselves” in our pursuit of solutions. Bayan also makes the following claim:

“Inspirational writing has hit the bookstores like a tidal wave. Volumes of material — from taking ‘soup’ for the spirit to witnessing miracles and angels; from glorifying love and romance to internalizing success and happiness. You’d imagine man must be having a terribly desperate time, but yes, this desperation is exactly what the inspirational writer zeroes in on to address. And the writer’s main challenge is how to be effective …

Inspirational writing has a style all its own. The most effective inspirational articles are, first and foremost, personal — first person, true to life, and uplifting.

For example: you are another member of this human race who has chosen to reach out to share something precious with those who aren’t as blessed; you are a friend who cares, who wants others to learn from your own lessons. You humbly extend yourself, opening your heart and sharing valuable experiences, hoping that in the process you create a positive impact on your readers, that somehow you make a difference.”

You may use any writing style you wish — concise or narrative — so long as your readers are able to comprehend your helpful, instructive and uplifting messages as highlighted by real-life situations. If your readers sense your own identification with the material, they will become loyal students.

To gain the credentials necessary for effective writing AND reader trust you might try writing one or two self-help guides with a publisher like — or you can attend lectures, quoting speakers who are also doctors. You might even write a motivational column at a high-traffic website like

OR as Bayan has done, you can inhale life. For several years she trained herself to learn ten new skills per year. These skills encompassed everything from Japanese cooking and mountaineering to web authoring! In interviews, however, she has confessed her first source of inspiration comes from her son.

In fact, children have a wide-eyed fascination of the world fertile for motivational topics. Every life aspect is fresh — from ants building their dirt homes to treating neighbors respectfully. What comes from a child’s mouth can delight, surprise and perplex.

So, next time wee Daniel crouches awkwardly under the lowest branch of the Christmas tree after you’ve told him to “sit beneath the tree,” think on how you too can take life more literally — and how you might help others do the same!

Now think about life’s small pleasures — laughing with a friend, completing a wonderful project, searching for the perfect shell. Each one is fair game! When the motivation hits, write.

Then if you are truly lucky you’ll have the following event which happened to Bayan, happen to you:

“One afternoon, a fellow jogger passed me. Without breaking stride, he waved at me and yelled, ‘Live the moment!’ It was the title of my latest inspirational article. I smiled and waved back. I had made a difference — even to just one person, I had made a difference. At that moment, I had received my reward.”

To sum: seek things to learn. You can do this via “free events:” social gatherings, lectures and Internet searches. Write about your most heartfelt lessons and soon you’ll have students learning them too.

Lesson 4: Changing the World One Story at a Time

As Chance Would Have It

A first grade teacher named Judith Chance tells a tearjerker in Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul —

One of her students, eight year-old Ronny, was neglected at home. He always arrived at school filthy, had a speech impediment, had already been held back a year and had parents who liked to move throughout each year.

Chance was a teacher that enjoyed working one-on-one with students on reading skills, so she really got to know Ronny:

She wrote, “Each word offered a challenge and a triumph wrapped as one; Ronny painstakingly sounded out each letter, then tried to put them together to form a word. Regardless if ‘ball’ ended up as Bah-lah or ‘bow,’ the biggest grin would spread across his face, and his eyes would twinkle and overflow with pride.”

Many nights after putting her children to bed, she’d wonder if Ronny was safe.

Just before the school year ended, Chance held an awards celebration. She provided certificates of achievement for every student: Best Sounder-Outer, Most Expressive, Loudest Reader, Fastest Page-Turner.

She’d sweated over the sort of certificate to give Ronny and could only think of “Most Improved Reader.” She could just see his eyes light up!

As she typically gave inexpensive gifts with each certificate, she bought a forty-nine cent supermarket book for Ronny — one of those Little Golden ones you can’t help but notice because it’s in the checkout line.

“Tears rolled down his cheeks, streaking the ever-permanent layer of dirt as he clutched the book to his chest and floated back to his seat. I choked back the lump that rose in my throat,” Chance wrote.

Then: “I stayed with the class for most of the day; Ronny never let go of the book, not once. It never left his hands.”

A few days following the celebratory day, Chance noticed Ronny on a school bench reading the book.

Another teacher approached her, telling her he hadn’t put his gift down since she’d given it to him. The teacher asked if she knew that was the first book he’d ever actually owned.

She hadn’t. She went over to Ronny and asked if he would read her his book.

Filled with newfound confidence, he read to his gift bearer with more clarity than ever before!

When he was through, Ronny caressed it saying, “Good book.”

The teacher took her student’s hand in hers, thinking what a powerful contribution the author of the golden book had made in the life of a weathered child.

Chance capped the story by saying she knew she was about to get serious about writing in hopes of doing what the author of that Golden Book had done, and no doubt continues to do — care enough to contribute a story that changes a life.

As Chance would have it sharing even one moving lesson like the one you’ve just read will change more than one life.

What better reason to follow her lead?

Lesson 4: Changing the World One Story at a Time

The Gift Bearer

Like Chance, you are capable of giving the gift of caring. But you are your own person. You must decide for yourself what subjects urge you to write.

Perhaps writing about family is your desire? Or ghostly tales? Or hard-earned lessons?

Whatever subjects keep you writing, be sure they are ones that allow you to live a healthy, flexible life. By flexible I mean yes, open to change. It is through an openness to change you will cast off your flagpole underwear with pride, allowing others to see it!





Lesson 4: Changing the World One Story at a Time


“Inspiring the Inspirational Writer” by Ruby Bayan:…

“Ronny’s Book” by Judith Chance, from Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul

Lesson 4: Changing the World One Story at a Time

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