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.
1. Printout all the stories you have written so far on sheets of white paper. I like to put my stories in a three-ring binder in the best order that I can come up with at the time. This helps me both to observe how much I have written and so congratulate myself. It also keeps the stories in an organized fashion. While placing them in a binder is not necessary, I it find it useful. I don’t have to worry about handling stories, fumbling and dropping them, and having to reorganize them.
2. For this next step, I like to have a good amount of time. Sit down someplace where you are comfortable, get yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and began to read your stories. As you read, do there seem to be stories that are in the wrong order or stories missing in your memoir? The stories that are in the wrong order can be rearranged immediately. What to do with the stories that are missing in your memoir? This is also easy to correct. Find some colored paper and write the topic of the missing story or stories. You can also write some notes on how you will develop the stories. Take this colored paper and insert it in your three ring binder at the appropriate space.
3. The next time you use sit down to write you have the choice of choosing from your Memory List or choosing one of the topics (stories missing in your memoir) on the colored papers. In this way, you will flesh out your memoir.
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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