When writing a memoir or family history, you will inevitably come across bits of information that you want to include, but which you cannot verify…
There are many pieces to the writing process, collected here are articles that will help the memoir writer at every stage of the operation.
A Suggestion on How to Complete Your Book Manuscript
May I present a surprise blocking solution to complete your book manuscript: don’t write just now.
Here is an example of what I mean: one summer when I was serious about gardening, I went away on a late June trip. It was a fun vacation with my family, but the trip fell at a time when the garden seriously needed daily weeding, hoeing, and watering. As you can imagine, when I returned home, I found my garden overrun with weeds. The vegetables that I had so carefully planted were just about choked out, so I was, to say the least, challenged seeing the overgrown mess of weeds.
Rather than tackle the job immediately, however, which would certainly have been reasonable, I made a counter-intuitive decision: I spent time across several days just sitting on the edge of the garden, envisioning how I wanted the various parts to look once my work of cleaning up was done, imagining the lovely vegetables I would have.
Action will come.
After three days of on-again, off-again scrutinizing and visualizing, my time for action had come.
Should you write your memoir? This is such a basic question that perhaps everyone who contemplates writing will be—or should be—asking him/herself that question.
Sometimes, years after I’ve heard from someone that he is writing a memoir, I will connect with the writer again. Perhaps it’s three or four or five years later, but the writer is working on the same memoir. I don’t get it. So I ask politely, “What has snagged the memoir?” In short…
How long does it take to write a memoir? Really? Well, I don’t actually know the answer to “how long does it take to write a memoir?” What I know is a memoir needn’t take so long to compose.
Why do some memoirs drag on?
Do You Wonder How Best to Organize Your Memoir?
Eventually, after you have written awhile, you will likely have amassed a number of vignettes, story segments, and stories. You will want to organize your memoir to make a statement, a bigger picture. How will you do it? Below are four ideas to organize your memoir.
Remember: These suggestions do not refer to the sequence in which the stories are written but rather to how they can be ordered after they have been written.
November 30 activity: You need a timeline for writing your memoir.
The use of a timeline for writing your memoir will both speed up the writing process and assure that you complete your book.
It is possible, of course, to choose to write a memoir so that it takes you forever to complete it. You can write when you feel like it for as long as you feel like it and get it done whenever you get it done. Too often, that’s never.
Your book is very likely to remain in a computer file unless you set a timeline for writing your memoir. When I tell people what line of work I am in, too many people answer back something like, “Well, I started a memoir but I’ve never finished it.” This is sometimes followed with a nervous, embarrassed laugh.
November 29 Activity: The introduction for a memoir can be pivotal.
Do not omit to write an Introduction to be placed before the first chapter of your book. The Introduction lets fly a hook to get the reader caught so s/he reads on. In a bookstore, the Introduction is often what the reader peruses. Online, the sample copy usually includes the Introduction.
When you write the Introduction for a memoir, be sure that the pages either pose a low-point (nadir) problem—how was I to extricate myself from this morass?—or offers a zenith of your experience—how did a girl from a small mill town in the American Rust Belt end up being CEO of the year in Inc Magazine?
November 24 Activity: There may be stories missing in your memoir.
In some way, writing a memoir is like organizing an anthology of stories. In the method that I teach in my workshops, tele-classes, and coaching, writers write stories as stories come to them. I am not a great one for starting to write from the beginning and writing to the end. Instead, I encourage writers to write the stories they most feel impelled to write. The initial result is an often-chaotic collection of stories without links. This is not a problem. Writing without an outline is a much more soulful way of writing a memoir.
Today’s activity will help you to organize your memoir once you have many stories and help you to identify the linking stories missing in your memoir.
November 21 Activity: Learn to use Visualization in your memoir.
The memory list remains a powerful tool for memoir writing. Given the time to compile an extensive memory list, many of us can come up with many of the details of our lives. But, as good as the memory list is in propelling us through our past, it can come to a halt. What to do?
Use visualization in your memoir recall.
November 19 Activity: Memoir Writers Need to be Memoir Readers
Every writer should be a reader. I find it astounding to learn that someone who is writing a book is comfortable saying s/he is not a reader. In the same way that, if you wanted to play a sport or an instrument, you would want to observe how master practitioners of a sport or of a musical instrument do so. In the same way, I find it unacceptable that someone who is writing a memoir would not want to be reading a memoir as s/he writes.