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November 30 Activity: Set a Timeline for Writing Your Memoir

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.

“Have you worked with any sort of timeline?” I’ll inquire.

“Well, no! I just like to write when I feel like it. I like to be creative,” these people might respond with a sense of shock.

Writing from the inside out is at the core of what I teach. I have repeated this slogan many times. When you write from the inside out, you listen to the unconscious as it informs you about what you ought to be writing. Writing from the inside out does not mean that you are working without a timeline for writing your memoir, that it is creative to mosey along.

Action steps

1. If you have already been writing your memoir for a while, calculate:

  • What is your frequency of writing: every day, every other day, once a week?
  • How long do you usually write when you sit down to write?
  • By when would you like to complete your memoir? Sometimes people choose a family reunion a birthday or some other event to be focal point for presenting their memoir to the world.
  • How many words can you write in an hour? (Measure your productivity for several hours on different days and average the numbers.)

2. Having gathered this information, create a timeline for finishing your memoir. If the end date you chose seems to allow you much time, perhaps you can simply continue as you are. But many writers decide at this point that they would like to “put their nose to the grindstone.” Here are some suggestions:

  • Can you increase the frequency without eviscerating yourself?
  • Can you add some time to each writing session?
  • Can you increase the number of words per hour?

3. Can you get the memoir finished by the due date? You will be pleasantly surprise by how much you can increase your production by introducing a timeline to your writing.

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