Using a Motivation Technique
The Memoir Network was pleased to receive this answer from blog reader Justine Kuntz in response to Denis Ledoux’s article titled “Motivation Technique for Writing:”
In the spring of 2012 I decided to do what you have suggested in your entry titled “Motivation Technique for Writing.” I had concluded a memoir that I had been working on sporadically for seven years. My goal was to finish it before August and self-publish it for my cousins before we get too old to remember the stories.
I chose the birth of my daughter as a good stopping point in my story because I had several themes that tapered off at that point. I wrapped up the title theme “If She Was a Boy…!” as it felt like a logical place to end for the time being. I made a tentative Table of Contents with deadlines for what needed to be accomplished, and then assigned a completion date to each block. I ticked off the stories by placing an asterisk in front of the title of each completed story.
The challenge of meeting the work schedule deadlines became most helpful as a visual and surprisingly revved my energy for meeting the deadlines. Within months I saw my story printed and available on Amazon.com as a 180 page memoir. That accomplishment has spurred me on to complete Part II with a different theme which inadvertently developed out of Part I, as a ’60s era saga when divorce ran rampant throughout America’s family structure.The whole process was as if I had to get the story on paper, let it percolate and savor itself as a single manuscript and then revisit it with the idea of finding themes and a way to break it into a manageable work schedule with a Two Part focus. Last summer was most productive, and I even took a month’s vacation. My book came out on Thanksgiving Day. How unique!
Denis, you are right on target in your blog post (from June 17, 2013, “Motivation Technique for Writing”) but I had to discover the method myself. In retrospect, once I got a handle on it, it seemed so logical that the work became pleasurable and almost easy. Now I’m working on Part II. I have shared the idea of the “Tentative Table of Contents” with my students and they all say that has been a valuable motivator to get them back on track after experiencing derailment. Thank you for jogging my memory and motivating me to write this as a confirmation to your valuable work.
We have helped many people whose lives demanded to be recorded but who themselves were not writers to create interesting and well-written memoirs.
We listen to you speak your story. We ask you a multitude of questions. Then we get to work writing. We come back to you with text and you make lots of corrective comments and we ask you a whole lot of new questions. Then, we go back to writing again.
Over time, your story develops into a memoir—one that you have shaped at every stage of the writing process.
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