How to Make Your Story a Story for Others

Around my workplace, we often refer to our mission as “people for others.” St. Ignatius and his companions formed the Society of Jesus for the purpose of “helping souls.” Helping souls is at the heart of what most spirituality publishers are about. By definition, writing that is aimed at people who are either “spiritual” or “religious” endeavors to help them in their spiritual development.

Writing is quite a solitary experience. The words begin in one person’s mind and out of that person’s interest or passion. Then, when it’s in the process of publication, this spirituality writing becomes a business venture, because even not-for-profit publishing houses must stay in business. 

So even though it’s a big deal to write a story, it’s an even bigger deal to make it a story for others. In pulling that off, the writer must transcend her individual realm and deliver something that the publisher can market and sell. What a world. 

My job is helping writers turn their stories into stories for others. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

  • Understand that what helps you write the story will not necessarily help someone else read the story.
  • Respect the experiences and vocabularies of the reader. 
  • Create a structure (outline, progression) that assists the reader in following where you go.
  • Remember that this is not about you.
  • Work from the assumption that your book makes a promise to the reader.
  • Create an experience for the reader.

from “The Art of Spiritual Writing” by Vinita Hampton Wright, Loyola Press