The Memoir Network http://thememoirnetwork.com Resources to Help You to Write (and Finish!) Your Memoir Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:44:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Is theme important?http://thememoirnetwork.com/theme-influences-everything/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/theme-influences-everything/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:45:29 +0000 http://turningmemories.wordpress.com/?p=217 Theme influences choices for every element in the story: plot development, characterization, and setting. Is theme important. You bet it is!

Is theme important?

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Theme influences choices for every element in the story: plot development, characterization, and setting.

Let’s look at these elements. Here’s the shell of the plot: your father was laid off; a difficult time followed for the family; your father received additional training and obtained a different job.

Your treatment of this plot will vary according to your theme.

Let’s suppose the following is your theme: “events whose consequences we can’t understand happen gratuitously to us in our lives, but we can always make the best of things.” In the elaboration of this particular theme (message), you will find it natural to set your father’s being laid off not only with his reaction at the time but also with its consequences. Because of your positive theme, you will write about the new circumstances that developed for your father and about his psychological growth (character). To develop your theme, you will show how important it was for him to “roll with the punches,” to allow himself to experience being without the identity his job and his role as family provider had furnished, and, ultimately, to exercise choices that led to new, satisfying pursuits. So much for one plot development.

A different theme calls for a different treatment.

Now imagine that your theme (obviously based on different insights) had been: “life deals each of us gratuitous, unwarranted dirty tricks and my father was no exception.” In this story, you would emphasize the role other people played in your father’s being laid off and how no one helped him. You would dwell on the negative elements–how the economic demands made on him by his children left him with few choices, how his insufficient education (due in turn to his parents, his ethnic group, etc.) limited his job options. You would probably undervalue the training that led to a different job and fail to acknowledge the psychological growth that he experienced as a result of training and his new job challenges.

Both of these plot developments would be based on the same facts, but the stories themselves would be very different because they are inspired by very different themes. As a writer, you must be aware that your theme (the message you seek to impart) affects the interpretation of every fact in your story. By conscious use of theme, you can make a story into your own distinct and unique account.

Is theme important? You bet it it!

Good luck writing your memoir.

For more on the use of theme in a memoir, listen to Theme in Memoir, an MP3, which is part

TheMemoirNetwork.com

Making your story bigger!

of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

 

Is theme important?

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Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphorshttp://thememoirnetwork.com/similes-metaphors/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/similes-metaphors/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:55:20 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9928 Don't be afraid of similes and metaphors. "I don't quite know how to describe what I'm feeling," you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words.

Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphors

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Don’t be afraid of similes and metaphors.

“I don’t quite know how to describe what I’m feeling,” you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words.

There is a solution to this dilemma that writers often resort to—but one too many are sure they can’t handle. It is the use of metaphors, similes, images, and symbols. These will bring your text to a level beyond words.

1. A simile is a comparison that uses like or as.

When you say, “Life is like a merry-go-round”, you are making a simile—even if it’s not a terribly original one. It’s a simile, too, if you write, “I’m busy as a bee.” In a simile, because of the use of like and as, it is clear that the writer is making a comparison. here is an example:

My love is like the red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is like the melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.

Robert Burn

2. A metaphor is a comparison that does not use like or as.

You make a metaphor when you say, “Life is a merry-go-round.” Metaphors are different from similes in that the comparison is a touch hidden. There is no like or as to cue the reader. Life, of course, isn’t really a merry-go-round—what you mean is that life is like a merry-go-round: it has speed, a sense of thrill, and fancy. And of course, you are not a bee— you are merely like a bee in your busy-ness”.

I hope Robert Burns will forgive me for altering his verses below but it’s done for the good of literature—your memoir. Had Burns omitted the word like he would have written a metaphor—but, of course, he did not.

 

My love is a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is a melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.

Both similes and metaphors appropriate for one person, thing, or idea a quality that belongs to another. Robert Burns hoped that we would ascribe our feelings for the beauty and fragility of a red rose to love. (Isn’t love just as beautiful and fragile as the rose?)

Similes and metaphors “borrow” meaning from other words, but they clearly “borrow” just a portion of the meaning of the person, the thing, or the idea which is being compared to another. Like two gray circles that overlap only partially to create a darker area (the previous phrase is a part of a simile), similes and metaphors overlap only partially the meaning of the thing or person to which they are compared.

3. Similes and metaphors are not definitions of persons, things, or ideas.

They are different from definitions. Similes and metaphors are vague and so they are often used in clusters (often, writers stack a number of similes or metaphors before they feel they have achieved the effect they were striving for). Burns attempts to pinpoint his love one more time by writing later in the same poem, “My love is like a melody/Sweetly played in tune”. When the author adds this new simile to that of the red, red rose, he is attempting to create clearer meaning. Your writing, too, will require that you stack a number of similes and metaphors before you achieve the effect you are striving for.

Definitions are precise. When you write that a merry-go-round is a carousel, you are not saying that it is like a carousel; you are clearly stating that a merry-go-round is a carousel. You are defining the word merry-go-round. Unlike similes and metaphors that thrive on ambiguity, definitions thrive on clarity.

Similes and metaphors appeal to a poetic sense which accepts and appreciates without being judgmental and evaluative. They tap into our childlike relationship to the world. By including appropriate similes and metaphors, you will engage your reader in a way that circumvents the rational mind. Because of this, similes and metaphors are especially effective within lead paragraphs or for introducing characters.

EXERCISE

  • Keep a list of similes and metaphors that you have found while reading. This will make you much more aware of these devises and you may begin noticing how prevalent their use is in writing.
  • Take the similes and metaphors you have collected and change an element in each to experience how much each word contributes to a particular meaning the author is reaching for. For instance, had you written in your notebook “the sun was a flower over the city” you might transform it into “the sun was a guardian over the city” or “the sun was a canopy over the city”. How are each of these similar or different in the meaning they suggest?

TheMemoirNetwork.com

Making your story better!

For more on similes and metaphors for the memoir writer, listen to Similes and Metaphors, an MP3, which is part of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

Are You Afraid of Similes and Metaphors

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The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?http://thememoirnetwork.com/successful-blog/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/successful-blog/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 18:44:25 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9923 This post is the 300th on my blog. I am amazed at the number. I realize that other blogs have more posts but even so, 300 is an achievement. I want to honor that I have been writing my own posts and curating guest posts for a while now and have achieved this constancy—300 posts. If that makes for a successful blog, then I have done it.

The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?

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This post is the 300th on The Memoir Writer’s Blog. I am amazed at the number. I realize that other blogs have more posts but even so, 300 archived posts is an achievement. I want to honor that I have been writing my own posts and curating guest posts for a while now and have achieved this constancy—300 posts. If that makes for a successful blog, then I have done it. but…

I like to think that a successful blog does not depend only on its numbers but on its quality. I hope you have found the article to be meaningful and useful.

My initial attempt at blogging

When I began to blog, it was without understanding much about its potential and about how to organize it. I saw that others were doing it. (I had even read that blogs were on the decline—that was one wrong assessment on somebody’s part.) I started placing a few posts. This was very irregularly beginning in 2010—so irregular that it was perhaps at the rate of a one or two a month. A sort of stepchild in my memoir conversation with you. The results were that the blog did indeed seem as if it were not worth much. I wasn’t putting much into it and not getting much out of it. It was not what you would call  a successful blog.

Committing to creating a successful blog

Then in the spring of 2013, I made a decision to commit to the blog. At first, I was posting at the rate of 2 or 3 per week. I had done an effort in 2009 and 2010 to post articles on ezinearticles.com and, in 2010-21011, with the help of a marketing assistant, I began to transfer the articles from there to The Memoir Writer’s Blog and to do some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of each post. At some level, I enjoyed the public aspect of the work. An introvert by nature, I enjoyed this opportunity to put myself and my ideas “out there” without actually having to be “out there” in person. It could all be done from my office. I have transferred almost 100 of the posts from ezinearticles.com.

Over the year since i have taken the blog more seriously, that I have actively nurtured the blog, I have often asked myself what its feel or voice ought to be. I have asked the same question of the website. What do I engage in best that meets the needs of those readers who choose to follow me?

Steps I’ve taken to boost the blog

Mostly my 300 articles have been short pieces using an “X things you need to know about…” formula. I have refrained from writing longer pieces. I have also revved up my production to 4-6 posts per week and have added an 4 PM/ET communication to let the readers of my newsletter know there is a new post. These have been very successful in driving up the number of views of new posts. (It is the SEO ratings that drive new traffic to old posts.) If you came to this post via a search engine, you can subscribe to the newsletter for free and receive update of posts. The newsletter comes with the free Basic Membership in The Memoir Network. Sign up today.

Your suggestions are eagerly sought

I am curious to read if you have any suggestions for me as I pursue publishing my second 300 posts to make this a successful blog.  Would you like:

  • more of the how-to informative articles
  • additional emphasis on guest posts
  • excerpts from memoirs
  • informal “from the editor’s desk” sort of articles
  • longer articles but published less frequently
  • a change in the frequency. Tell me which frequency.

Respond below, and I will take all your suggestions into consideration and, if necessary, eagerly enter into dialog with you.

Keep reading the posts. I have not run out of things to say—by a long shot! And, if you agree these posts are useful in the memoir-writing process—please—let your social network contacts know of the good work we are doing here.

 

The Memoir Writer’s Blog—a Successful Blog?

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3 Benefits of Keeping a Journalhttp://thememoirnetwork.com/3-benefits-keeping-journal/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/3-benefits-keeping-journal/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:05:55 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9911 Keeping a journal can be a useful tool when you are writing your memoir. When keeping a regular journal, some people feel a release of energy they don't have in other writing forms.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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When keeping a journal—regular (even daily), some people feel a release of energy they don’t have in other writing forms. Because of that, journal keeping can be an important developmental experience for you both as a person and as a writer. Because the journal is private by definition, you can write in it without fear of how an audience might react. No one will ever see it. Not ever—unless you want them to!

Your journal is a kind of writing laboratory. Scientists use a laboratory to conduct experiments. They check what results from adding this to that, from changing relationships and quantities and sequences. Sometimes when the results are interesting and prove worth pursuing, they continue conducting experiments in similar areas, pairing these findings with those from other experiments.

1) Keeping a journal can be this sort of laboratory for your writing.

What if you record your dreams? What if you make lists? What if you do free associations of ideas? What if you recreate the past as you wish it had been? (Give yourself a commanding role!) Have everything turn out “the way it was supposed to!”

2) You can also experiment with various styles and techniques to record your feelings and perceptions.

What if you write only in long sentences? or only in short ones? Or never use the word I? Or use stream of consciousness (thoughts just as they come without any editing)?

3) A journal can be a tool to get around writer’s block.

Perhaps your writer’s block is due to being cramped by the emotional limits you have imposed on yourself. Use your journal as a place to break free to a more authentic you.

Keeping a journal can be a useful tool when you are writing your memoir. It will give you a place where you can experiment with your writing style, form new themes and associations, and help you find your way around writer’s block.

Good luck  keeping a journal and incorporating it into your memoir!

TheMemoirNetwork.comFor more on journaling for the memoir writer, listen to Journals and Memoirs, an MP3, which is part of our new collection of MP3s, Making the Story Bigger, Second Draft Work.

You may also want to visit Easy Journaling which offers an ebook on the topic and Center for Journal Therapy.

3 Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2http://thememoirnetwork.com/bill-andrews/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/bill-andrews/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:56:50 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9762 During WW2, the Japanese enslaved thousands of women to serve as prostitutes. I recently interviewed author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent novel, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story.

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2

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During WW2, the Japanese enslaved thousands of women to serve as prostitutes. I recently had the opportunity to interview author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent novel, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story. Last week, I published the first part of the interview and below I publish the second portion. If you have not read the first portion, it is a good idea to do so before reading the text below.

DL: You changed narrator in this book. You went from a third person to a first-person narrator. You went from a middle-aged man to a young woman. Can you talk to us about why you did that? What were some of the challenges you had?

BA: Yes, both of these changes—from third person to first; from father to granddaughter—really helped the book. Let me start with the second—changing the character. I first wrote the frame of the book (the book is written in a framed narrative or a story within a story) with the father of the adopted daughter as the narrator. Why? Because I was him. It was easy for me. Then I realized that the granddaughter had the most at stake in the story. By giving her the narrative, the frame had much more power, more emotion. It was more direct, more raw, more dramatic. It wasn’t nearly as easy to write, but it was way better.

As for switching from third to first person, that was a result of needing to give the narrative a better voice. Writers and agents and publishers and coaches talk about “voice” all the time, but it isn’t always clear what it is.  Well, to me, it’s a simple concept, but not easy to do. Voice is the personality of the narrator. Think about it. If you could have your comedy told by either a boring person, or by Robin Williams, who would you choose? Then again, you might not want Robin Williams to narrate your romance since the personality or voice of the narration must match the story. To get the voices right in Daughters of the Dragon, I changed the narration to first person. Once I did, the personality HAD to come through. The 20-year-old granddaughter said things like, “awesome” and “seriously?” and such. The 80-year-old Korean grandmother’s voice had to be deliberate and precise to match her personality. Structurally, it wasn’t all that hard to change, but really forced me to think about voice.

DL: Is there anything in particular that you would say that was the most difficult thing to do in this book? Was it research, plotting, point of view?

BA: A couple of things were challenging. First, the plotting. Note I use the word “plotting” broadly to mean the action, pacing, character development, and theme development all together. There are 5 “acts” in this book—the three historical acts make up 80% of the book and needed to be about the same length; the two present-day acts need to be subservient to the historical acts. Plus, I had many themes, several characters to develop, plot twists, etc. So, how did I do it? With a step sheet. Frankly, I couldn’t have done this book without one.

What’s a step sheet you ask?

DL: Oh, did I ask?

BA: It’s a spreadsheet with the chapters down the side and 12 columns across the top. The columns are: 1-chapter number; 2-date and time; 3-place; 4-POV character; 5-major action that happens; 6 through 9-major theme developments; 10+11-major character developments; 12-anything else I need to keep track of. I spent over 6 weeks on the step sheet alone before I began writing. It is the ONLY way I could control all these elements. And, of course, the step sheet is a living, breathing document. It changed nearly every day. But by having the discipline to work this way, the plotting, pace and developments really came together. I could see it in one look. I’ve been told by readers that the plotting and pacing in Daughters of the Dragon is excellent. I have the step sheet to thank for that.

Another difficulty was the research. I just had to do it. Remember that class you took your junior year in high school? It’s like that. Read, make notes, organize your thoughts, go to your writing, go back to the research when you need to, make notes, write—you get it.

Finally, I had a tough time with the brutality of the story. For example, I tried to write the rape scene in real time (inside the narrative), but it was just too hard on me and on the reader. I decided to pull it out to the frame and, while still hard, it was less brutal. You need to respect the reader and not beat them up too much. You can’t be gratuitous or insensitive. Yet, I wanted to tell the real story. A senior editor at Simon and Schuster rejected the book because he thought it was too graphic. I told my agent I could rewrite it. She asked me how the comfort woman who’s telling the story would describe what happened to her. I decided to keep it the way it was.

DL: I know that you worked with many different people in the writing of this book. For one you started with me, and I have to say that it was a great pleasure to work with you. You and I had some very good conversations. You were a very good listener, and you’re also a very good challenger. You didn’t accept everything I told you, but you did accept the necessity of interacting with everything—even if it meant that you would dismiss something that I told you. That was something that I respected very much in you and something that made our working together a pleasure. I know that you also worked with some other agents. Can you tell us about this experience of working with other people. What is it that you would tell readers of this blog about how they can help themselves if they work with an editor or agent.

The Memoir Network

Daughters Of The Dragon

BA: Working with coaches and agents and publishers is a little like that dream you have when you see everyone in your world, but they aren’t where you are. It is one of the strangest states I’ve ever been in (since college anyway). Here I am, doing the hours of work, I have the passion, I have the insights to these characters and this story. But if you’re an AUTHOR and not just a writer, you’re writing for someone else. Let me restate: If you want to sell your work, you are writing for someone else. That being said, remember that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. You gotta keep the horse picture in focus. But if someone – especially a professional - says it isn’t working, they’re probably right. And this strange state is amplified by the fact that you don’t know how good you are. It’s the eternal question someone trying to get published has. Am I good enough? Well, you’re probably not as good as you think you are after you knock off that awesome chapter, (go back and read some of the stuff you wrote years earlier that you thought was so great) and you’re certainly not as good as you spouse says you are. You might be better than that hack who just sold 5 million copies (who, by the way, is a best selling AUTHOR, not just a writer), so you just gotta balance it all and keep everything in perspective. The pros will give you good insight to your writing, but they aren’t always right. And they agents are far too busy to help you. All I can say is, listen to them, keep working, but most importantly, keep learning. That’s the ticket. KEEP LEARNING!

DL: Now that you have completed Daughters of the Dragon and it is published, can you tell us what your future plans are?

BA: Starting this fall, I’ll be working on the loose sequel to Daughters of the Dragon about the life of Empress Myeongseong. First, I need to find research in English!!

Visit Bill’s website: williamandrewsbooks.com

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 2

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6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoirhttp://thememoirnetwork.com/finding-time-write-memoir/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/finding-time-write-memoir/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:37:08 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9683 For many of us finding the time to write a memoir can be problem. There are so many things that seem to get in the way what with work, family, household chores, TV, social media, etc. So start by asking yourself whether all of these distractions are really just a way of avoiding getting down to writing.

6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoir

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The following is a guest post by  Chris Lightfoot. For information on how on how to post a guest blog on the Memoir Writer’s Blog, read our guidelines.

For many of us, finding the time to write a memoir can be challenge. There are so many things that seem to get in the way what with work, family, household chores, the lure of TV and of social media, etc. But…

Are all of these distractions really just a way of avoiding getting down to writing? If you are a new or inexperienced writer, you probably have some doubts about your ability to be a writer and so keeping yourself busy means you don’t have to confront your inner writing demon which feeds on your self doubt and taunts you with the specter of failure.

Give writing a go

If you really want to write, don’t let any of these doubts get in the way. You will never be a writer if you don’t give it a go. As with so many worthwhile pursuits in life, writing a memoir takes determination, commitment and practice.

So how do you go about fitting writing into your busy schedule? Well, here are a few tips which may help you with finding the time to write a memoir.

1. Less is more

You are not looking for a spare few hours. Just 15 or 20 minutes a day will get you into a writing routine which you will find much easier to maintain.

2. Pick a time of day to write that works for you

If you work best in the morning try getting up 15 or 30 minutes earlier before anyone else is around. If you are not a morning person look for another time in the day where you could squeeze in some writing – on the bus or train, during a lunch break, late at night when everyone else has gone to bed. Whatever time of the day or night you choose, stick to it. Make it a regular date on your calendar. Dating assures you are finding the time to write a memoir.

finding the time to write a memoir

finding the time to write a memoir

3. Don’t try to write too much

If you only wrote 175 words a day (about the length of my first three paragraph) for 5 days a week you would have 875 words by the end of the week and 45,500 words by the end of the year  (assuming you worked 52 weeks!). A perfectly acceptable length for a memoir.

4. Be prepared to give something up

Are there times of the day when you could be more productive – for example how much time do your spend watching TV, catching up on Facebook, trawling the internet? There seems to be more scope than ever for wasting time on computers (or whatever device(s) you habitually use) and so how about cutting down on some of these time-wasting activities and use the time saved to write your memoir.

5. Talk to other writers

If you don’t know any other writers join a local memoir writing group or search for an online writing community. Many other writers face exactly the same problems and time constraints as you and being able to share your fears and concerns will help you to keep going.

6. Write on the go

Just because you are doing something else doesn’t mean that your ideas and creativity stops flowing so always have a notebook on hand when you are out and about or a supply of post-it notes dotted around the house. You could also use the recording or note-writing features on your smart phone.

There are many ways of finding the time to write a memoir. Be creative with how you do it. And…

Keep writing.

 

 

6 Tips to Finding the Time to Write A Memoir

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5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Businesshttp://thememoirnetwork.com/better-memoir-writing-business/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/better-memoir-writing-business/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:55:41 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=1827 Run a Profitable Memoir-Writing Business Recently, while thinking about how to grow a business, I was jotting down some ideas about running a memoir-writing business–the what-do-I-know-now-that-I-wish-I-had-known-then sort of stuff. Here are the first five I came up with to help jumpstart my (and your) endeavor: 1. Create business goals. Many goals, goals in a chain […]

5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Business

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Run a Profitable Memoir-Writing Business

Recently, while thinking about how to grow a business, I was jotting down some ideas about running a memoir-writing business–the what-do-I-know-now-that-I-wish-I-had-known-then sort of stuff. Here are the first five I came up with to help jumpstart my (and your) endeavor:

1. Create business goals.

Many goals, goals in a chain of goals: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Endeavor to the best of your ability to meet those goals. Adjust your strategies regularly to fine-tune your access to those goals. Goals can be monetary, technical, emotional, but they are all related to your business. As much as possible, once formulated, make your goals non-negotiable. You must reach them for consistent business development.

2. Follow a business strategy plan.

Don’t ever wing it. Everyday you work you must work from a plan that is geared to that day’s goal and to the week’s and the month’s and the quarter’s and the year’s. Creativity is great for art but it is a killer for business. Day by day plodding wins the race to succeed at business.

3. Keep track of performance metrics.

Know your numbers. Money collected and owed, active subscriptions, how many people have registered for your programs and how many more do you need, what percentage of each open project is completed and how likely are the projects in development to be completed by the projected end date. Open projects are money sinks. Completed projects are marketable and so are potential moneymakers. Numbers are a guide to any business development

4. The 80/20 rule is always good!

That is, 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your clients and projects and programs. Conversely the remaining 80% of your clients, projects and programs will  produce only 20% of your income. So…be constantly evaluating your offerings and weed out the unprofitable 80%. The only exception? Something new that has not yet had sufficient marketing. Give it a deadline by which it either produces or it gets chucked out. (Remember: it is to your benefit to strangle your little darlings if they don’t perform.)

5. Lead generation must always win over product development.

The only exception: when you are just starting out and are still employed elsewhere and need to develop a product line. After that, lead generation is king! Creativity is for your artwork not for your business. Systems and consistency are essential for profitability.

Grow your memoir-writing business

I hope this helps you grow your memoir-writing business venture from a hobby to a money-making business.

Have you been working along the lines of these five suggestions? What are your own business “rules”? Please leave your comments below.

Memoir Professionals do well to acquire the Memoir Professional Package. In addition to the teaching materials, the Memoir Professional Package has an Editor’s Manual, a Speaker’s Manual and a Business Manual as well as an e-course geared to creating business success.  Comes with much writing material including the Memoir Start Up Package.

5 Rules for More Profitable Memoir Writing Business

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A Better Way to Teach Memoir Writinghttp://thememoirnetwork.com/better-way-teach-memoir-writing/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/better-way-teach-memoir-writing/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 20:00:05 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9864 People have been able to teach memoir writing from Memoir Network packages since 1996. The idea of creating packages started when people began telephoning us to ask if we could help them teach memoir writing. “I’d like to do what you do right here at home,” they’d tell us. At the time, we had no materials but, in 1996, I took four months out to write the two core manuals: The Curriculum Manual and The Presenter’s Manual. We are now in the process of a major update of the revisions of these texts.

A Better Way to Teach Memoir Writing

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People have been able to teach memoir writing from Memoir Network packages since 1996. The idea of creating packages started when people began telephoning us to ask if we could help them teach memoir writing. “I’d like to do what you do right here at home,” they’d tell us. At the time, we had no materials but, in 1996, I took four months out to write the two core manuals: The Curriculum Manual and The Presenter’s Manual. We are now in the process of a major update of the revisions of these texts.

By now, hundreds of individuals—600 and counting—have made great use of the materials to engage people in their communities in memoir writing. One could easily presume that 100,000 memoirs and lifestory collections have been written as a result of the memoir teachers we have helped launch. In the process…

They have managed to create interesting work or challenging avocations for themselves. A smaller number have established viable companies with our materials as a base for their success. When I look back, I feel I have reason to be proud of what The Memoir Network has accomplished.

There are many reasons that people choose to teach memoir writing and to extend that into coaching, editing and ghostwriting. Of course, it always starts with a phrase like “I’ve always loved to listen to and tell family stories.” Many people who contact us will say with a grin that carries well over the phone lines, “I’m the family storyteller.” So…

If there’s one thing I know it’s that memoir work is anchored deep in the soul—this anchoring is true both of the teacher and of the workshop writer—and it is true of you, too!

While all the people who approach The Memoir Network for help to teach memoir writing share that love for memory, for family and for stories, there are different demands from the work. People’s fall roughly into perhaps two categories:

1. People who are interested in teaching memoir writing as an avocation.

They know that story telling is an interest and a passion. Perhaps these people are retired or perhaps they are simply looking to engage in the community at a different level, a meaningful level. Money is not a rallying cry for them. More important is to invest in doing something interesting, to do something meaningful both for themselves and for others. Perhaps this person is already part of a group like a library board or a retirement community or a church or synagogue and he or she would like to teach memoir writing to people in that unit.  This person is not motivated by the prospect of income, not interested in raising revenue. They usually access the Associate Teacher Package.

Among the stellar teachers who have fallen into this category are a woman in Boca Raton who teaches memoir writing every fall and every spring to a group in her Episcopal church, another woman in Maryland—now 88—teaches in her retirement community (“They won’t let me retire!” she laments happily), another man taught in Philadelphia at his synagogue, a teacher in Toronto area taught into her eighties. All of these people taught memoir writing for the pleasure of it.

2. People who are looking to earn all or part of a living doing something s/he loves.

This person is perhaps a freelance writer or a helping professional such as a counselor or an activities director or a housewife/mother seeking to add to the family income doing something she believes in. That person is looking either to make memoir work into full-time job or is looking to create supplemental income. Of course, they enjoy the work because that’s what they chose to do, but that work also has to contribute to the “bottom line.” We call these people Memoir Professionals and they acquire the Memoir Professional Package. In addition to the teaching materials, the Memoir Professional Package has an Editor’s Manual, a Speaker’s Manual and a Business Manual as well as an e-course geared to creating business success.  Comes with much writing material including the Memoir Start Up Package.

Among the early buyers of the Memoir Professional package was Linda Myers who went on to create the National Association of Memoir Writers. So people have made use of the materials to create careers.

In the following weeks, I will share a number of articles with those of you who are interested in engaging in memoir work in your communities. While they will be slightly more focused on helping the Memoir Professional to succeed at creating a business or practice, the articles will contain many nuggets of helpful information for everyone.

And you? How do you see yourself engaged on day in memoir work in your community? What would you like to know about this work? Post below.

A Better Way to Teach Memoir Writing

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How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 1http://thememoirnetwork.com/how-to-write-a-book-william-andrews/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/how-to-write-a-book-william-andrews/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:17:45 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9696 William Andrews about his experience writing his recent book, Daughters of the Dragon. Bill exemplifies a commitment to writing. It is the same commitment but in the memoir field that will see all of us succeed at our endeavors.

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 1

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I recently had the opportunity to interview author William Andrews about his experience writing his recent book, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story

 I had coached and edited an earlier version of this novel for Bill (as well as  two other novels) which had a different name and a different narrator. At the time, Bill was working during the weekday and writing mostly at night and on weekends.

While this is a memoir blog, I want to share with you what I think Bill exemplifies for us: a commitment to writing. It is the same commitment but in the memoir field that will see all of us succeed at our endeavors. Besides, I really like Bill and hope you will go out and buy Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story and tell your local librarian to do the same. In this interview you will learn much about how to write a book.

The interview will run in to snippets. The first is below and the second will run on Friday, April 11.  Bill will be answering any questions you may have so jump into the conversation.

Denis Ledoux: You have been working on Daughters of the Dragon for quite a while now. Can you tell us how long it has taken from the time you conceived the book to the time you had it published? How many years have you spent in active writing? Were there any long breaks in between writing times?

Bill Andrews: I wrote the first draft in 2008 in about 6 months. Then I landed what I thought was going to be a temporary job helping a large financial institution set up an internal advertising group. When they offered me the job to run the group (at about the same time the market crashed), I took it. I stayed over 4 years. I tinkered with the book during that while, but never had the time to really polish it. I even got a top-notch agent, but frankly, I couldn’t do what she asked while working full-time so we parted ways. Actually, she dumped me, and I don’t blame her one bit. Then, in 2012, the company disbanded my group, and I jumped at the chance to take early retirement so I could work on Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story.

A year later, I had a polished product and a new agent. She really helped me. And now, it’s published. I probably could have done more on it while I was working full time, but I didn’t have enough energy. And, it helped to get away from it for a while. And  that’s my story about how to write a book.

DL: Can you tell us how you came upon this topic?  How did you get interested in the Korean comfort women?

BA: Absolutely. It has something to do with having a Korean daughter. It’s why I first got interested in Korea and why I visited the country in 2000. We went with 15 other families with adopted Korean children, and I was embarrassed and ashamed how little all of us knew about the country. And we all had a vested interest! Then, when I learned about the comfort women and how the Koreans view America (they believe we used their country for our own purposes), I vowed to learn more. So, while not directly autobiographical, there is a lot of me in it.

The Memoir Network

Daughters Of The Dragon

About the same time I was learning about the Korean comfort women, the New York Times reported on a study that said the Korean government and American military were in cahoots regarding military brothels outside of US bases in Korea, called kijichons. Some practices were downright immoral and probably illegal. For example, a GI would go into the big city and court a Korean girl. He’d promise to take her to America and marry her. He’d bring her to the kijichon and dump her for a fee from the brothel owner (sometimes ex-US military men.) The girl couldn’t go home because she’d shamed her family, so she was forced into prostitution to pay her debts to the brothel owners—debts she had no chance of ever repaying.

When I learned this, it struck me that there isn’t a lot of difference between the Japanese and Americans. Sure, the Japanese military was directly involved in “recruiting” and managing the comfort women. And it was on a massive scale. But, as the main character in Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story says, from the girls’ perspective, there’s no difference. When I read about this in the Times, I knew I had to write about the  comfort women and how they were forced into prostitution.

DL: You must have had periods of time in which you were discouraged. Can you tell us about how you kept yourself going? What worked for you? My understanding is that during much of this time you were busy working at another job.

BA: Periods when I was discouraged? Of course. All the time. When I was hunting for agents and publishers, it was a weekly punch in the stomach. I think writers have to have a combination of dogged determination, naiveté, confidence and humility. If I’d known how difficult it was going to be when I started, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But once I was into it, I was too stubborn to quit. It’s a marathon. But I believed I could do it. After all, I wrote two novels prior to this one just to learn the craft. I think the biggest problem I had was not knowing if I was good enough. Then, I’d read some dreck best seller and I’d get angry. But it isn’t about other authors. It’s about your own writing. I was getting better so I kept going. And now I can say, “Thank goodness, I didn’t get published before the book was ready. Thank you, agents and publishers, for doing your job and turning me down.”

DL: Did you envision yourself as a writer before you begin this book. What is your identification as a writer?

BA: Yeah, I thought of myself as a writer, but I didn’t allow to call myself an author. IMHO, you are not an author until someone buys your book—and not just your spouse, mother or friends. I was a writer because I was writing and learning the craft of storytelling. But I became an author when the book started selling. I think it’s important to remember this. Why are you writing, and who are you writing for?

Be sure to come by next week (Friday, April 11) when Bill will offer us another round of insights on how to write a book. Visit Bill’s website: williamandrewsbooks.com

How to Write A Book: A Chat With Author William Andrews Part 1

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8 Lessons Learned on My Memoir Writer’s Journeyhttp://thememoirnetwork.com/8-lessons-learned-memoir-writers-journey/ http://thememoirnetwork.com/8-lessons-learned-memoir-writers-journey/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:49:36 +0000 http://thememoirnetwork.com/?p=9689 Memoir writing is hard work. I know because I have been writing mine for the past five years. Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is now in its final editing stage. My goal is to publish it through a small publisher by December 2014.I started writing vignettes about twelve years ago and have journaled since my teens.

8 Lessons Learned on My Memoir Writer’s Journey

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“Rather than simply telling a story, the memoirist both tells the story and muses upon it, trying to unravel what it means in the light of her (his) current knowledge.”  — Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir

Writing a memoir is hard work.

I know because I have been writing mine for the past five years. Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is now in its final editing stage. My goal is to publish it through a small publisher by December,2014.

I started writing vignettes about twelve years ago and have journaled since my teens. But I didn’t get serious about my memoir writer’s journey until 2009 when I started taking memoir writing workshops and attending writing conferences.

It’s very humbling to learn what you don’t know and when I started out, I didn’t know anything about writing a memoir. I only knew that I had a story inside me and that I wanted to write about it.

It is a well-known fact in memoir writing circles that writing a memoir is a daunting task fraught with many challenges, not the least being: excavating painful memories, standing in your truth, and dealing with family members or close friends who may not agree with your perception of the truth.

All that on top of a market that says you have to be a celebrity to sell your story. The odds against writing a memoir that will sell can feel pretty overwhelming. But readers love stories they can connect with, and we all have a story within to share.

With this background in mind that I’d like to share the lessons I have learned on my journey to my first memoir.

Lesson #1: Connect with your purpose for writing.

Be clear about why you want to write your story. Do you want to leave a legacy for your grandchildren or are you determined to seek mainstream publication? Either way is fine. You just need to be clear on your purpose.

Connecting with your purpose for writing the story only you can tell allows you to have a story to tell.

Lesson  #2: Put your inner critic in his/her place.

We all have that nagging voice inside that tells us we can’t write; no one will be interested in our story and who cares anyway? Find a way to silence that voice so you can get on with the work of writing. I wrote out this dialogue with my inner critic which helped me.

Lesson #3: Find your authentic voice.

Keep writing until you find the story that is begging to be told and once you find it, believe in it. I found this to be the most challenging part. Once I started writing vignettes, the story unfolded and took on a life of its own.

 I found my voice through writing and rewriting.

Lesson  #4: Commit to excellence in every step of the process.

Study your craft and seek professional guidance along the way—writing mentors, editors, publishing experts (traditional and self-publishing), marketing experts. You can always do it yourself if you know what is expected in each phase of the process and are sure you can meet these expectations with excellence.

A memoir should read like a novel. Study fiction writing and storytelling techniques—plot, dialogue, scenic details, pacing, narrative arc.

Lesson #5: Develop a tough skin:

Be open to having your work critiqued honestly and constructively by readers and writers you respect. Rejection is part of the process. Figure out a way to get over it and get on with the work at hand. Here are two links about not giving up:

“Don’t Give Up” Seth Godin’s blog

“7 Steps for Handling Rejection” on Charlotte Dixon Rain’s blog

Lesson #6: Share your stories openly and often.

Ask others—besides your family—to be beta readers for your work-in-progress. Joining Joe Bunting’s Story Cartel has been one of the wisest investments I’ve made. I recruited ten people to review and critique my work-in-progress memoir as a result of the encouragement received from Joe and other writers in The Story Cartel Course. I also have developed a whole new network of fellow writers and prospective readers. We help promote one another. Here’s the link to a post on using beta readers: {link}

Lesson #7: Keep reading in and outside your genre.

Reading helps you hone in on techniques and story structures that work. Of course, a well-written story makes you feel like you are part of an experience, not just reading about it.

Lesson #8: Keep writing on a regular basis

Develop a routine and a commitment to writing on a regular basis—however you define regular. The story that needs to be told will reveal itself as long as you keep writing.

Do what it takes to take care of yourself so you can take care of your writing.

Honor the story within. Not only does it deserve to be told, it deserves to shine.

Visit Kathy Pooler’s blog at: http://krpooler.com

DL: At The Memoir Network, we talk about staying in the memoir conversation. Here is another post to help you do just that.

8 Lessons Learned on My Memoir Writer’s Journey

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