June 1, 2021

Hope In the Midst of Illness


Tracy Crump

In my friend Johnnie Alexander’s suspense novel, The Mischief Thief, the lead male character tells an amusing story about his collie, Griff, who locked himself in the bathroom. The book was fiction, but I happened to know the story was true. Johnnie’s collie, Griff, did just that!

Whether we write fiction or nonfiction, our work reflects life events.

Shortly after I began writing, a friend encouraged me to submit a story to a Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul book, knowing I had worked as a nurse many years ago. I ended up sending five stories. Two, both true accounts of patients I cared for in intensive care, were published.

Those stories started a string of anthology acceptances about anything from my family and pets to a horse that dunked me in a pond. People wanted to hear about my life—to laugh or cry with me, to know that we are more alike than different.

I also published a number of magazine articles and later moved into writing devotions. Short and tightly focused, these jewels are most effective when they immediately connect with the reader, usually through a personal experience story. Again, stories from my life became the basis for a whole new area of writing. They allowed me to gain the reader’s trust and paved the way to talk about deeper issues. I could then invite the reader to look at Scripture with me and envision God’s unfolding plan together.

After years of writing devotions for a number of different publications, I put together my own book of devotions. And what topic did I choose? One that would resonate with a wide range of readers on multiple levels: hope in the midst of illness. Basing it on my experiences as a nurse, I once again wrote about events from my life with which readers could connect. I had come full circle.

What about you? What experiences can you write about that will make readers say, “Yes, I’ve been there” or “I know how that feels”? Can you incorporate those experiences into your fiction to give it a genuine, true-to-life quality? If you write nonfiction, have you investigated anthology callouts for topics you might be able to write about? What about devotions? I recommend writing for several devotional publications to get a feel for different formats before attempting your own book. That way, you can better determine what style works best for you.

A friend once said, “Our lives are not one long memoir but thousands of little stories lived out every day.” Write about those stories, and let the circle of life draw readers in.

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Former ICU nurse Tracy Crump dispenses hope in her new book, Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness (CrossLink Publishing). Her writing has appeared in diverse publications, including Woman’s World, Focus on the Family, Upper Room, and Guideposts books. Best known for publishing 22 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her course on writing for the series is one of Serious Writer’s best sellers, and her popular newsletter, The Write Life, includes story callouts. Tracy co-directs Write Life Workshops, speaks at conferences, proofreads for Farmers’ Almanac, and edits for private clients. But her most important job is grandma to four completely unspoiled grandchildren. Connect with Tracy through You can find her book at


  1. Congratulations on your new book, Tracy! Such a wonderful accomplishment. Best of luck.

  2. “Our lives are not one long memoir but thousands of little stories lived out every day.” So agree! My book is supposed to arrive tomorrow...

  3. I read your book on my flight to a writers conference. Fabulous, and so encouraging. Devotions with life experiences make the best impact. Congratulations!