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How to Get the Most Out of Sharing Your Memoir In-Progress

How sharing your memoir will help

A critical step for a brand-new writer is to share writing in progress with others. There is nothing like a reader to help you develop a healthy critical sense of your work. This article is especially for the writer who cringes at the thought of sharing his/her writing.

Those others you will share with might be writers, they might be friends, or they might be family members. Many readers of this blog are first-time writers. This post is especially for you if you are brand new. Don’t let your hard work sit unread as you struggle with how to continue writing. There is so much to do and assess. The process I am outlining here will help you become a better writer.

Writing—and how can anyone contradict this?— is meant to be read by an audience. We write down words hoping someone will find them useful or interesting.

When you arrive at a certain level of polishing your text (sorry you will have to decide this on your own), take the lead in asking people to read what you have written. Sharing your memoir in-progress is essential—especially when you are a new writer who his unsure of him/herself.

Steps to toughen yourself for sharing your memoir in-progress

The following are steps that were idiosyncratic to me and they worked to help me become both comfortable sharing my memoir so that I can develop a sense of audience and reading my text with a sense of other readers reading it.

1. Start by reading a two-or three-page section of your writing to yourself.

Select a few pages of your memoir. Print the selection out. Read the section aloud to yourself. (Some people sit in front of a mirror to see themselves reading. This may contribute to the pretense that you are hearing your story as a listener.)

Don’t stop to edit or make any other marks on the paper. Just read the section. No matter how good or bad you think it is, just read it as if you think it’s great.

Of course, after this reading, it is appropriate to make any edits that you realized ought to be done, but resist the overwriting that leads to changing home for house and them back to home. Make substantial edits not little stuff. An editor can help you with this process.

2. Choose someone whom you trust to follow your directions to read your excerpt.

This person might be your spouse or partner, a parent or other relative, or a friend. Ask this person to read the selection you read in #1 (and have possibly edited). Sit or stand nearby while he or she reads so that you are experiencing how you feel to have someone read your work. Here is what you cue to reader to do:

  • s/he is not to comment while reading. Inform them that you don’t want any feedback, that you just want him or her to read the selection.
  • Upon finishing reading your reader will then say, “Nice work.”
  • After your reader says, “Nice work,” you will respond with, “Thank you.” Take the papers back and change the topic of conversation. Don’t ask what the reader liked or didn’t like. Don’t even let the reader point out typographical errors. Just say, “Thank you.”

3. Share and repeat.

Sharing your memoir in this fashion several times with different people or different pieces or writing. While feedback can be important to a writer, it is not necessary yet to you as a novice writer. It is more important to develop the courage to share your work.

4. The next step.

Once you can stand there and endure in silence while someone reads your work, you may be ready to ask yourself, “What do I need now by way of response from my readers to help me grow as a writer?”

The answer may be some questions about the characters in your story, or it may be questions about why this story is important to you. Or, it may even be time for a serious critique of the writing itself.

Soon, this careful attention to taking care of yourself outlined in this post will no longer be necessary and you will develop a circle of writing friends to share your work with.

Whatever you choose next, remember that sharing your memoir is always appropriate. Always choose growth as a memoir writer.


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