Can memoir writers write strategically?
We writers are artists. Most of us cultivate inspiration and are happy when we are under its influence. However, there is no one reading this who is unaware that writing can be pick and shovel work and it can be hard going sometimes—there are days when we would rather clean out the garage or the refrigerator than sit down to write. So…why not make the most of our work and write strategically?
We all love inspiration, but the problem with inspiration is that, while it can make the experience of writing today an excellent one, inspiration does not concern itself with the need we may have to think of our writing in a practical way. For instance, if I have something to say, how can I best approach making my statement available to the largest audience possible or to derive from the writing the best support? Another “for instance” is” how can this writing support me financially. (While financial support may seem farfetched to some readers of this blog, it is possible.)
Examples of writing strategically
- a book can support some aspect of my career: e.g. a counselor may want a memoir as credentialization or as calling card.
- a story can provide preliminary proof of a point that I have made or want to make elsewhere.
- a memoir can come out at a time when its topic is “hot” and “piggyback” on this topic for greater sales and influence.
- a previous book’s sales can be invigorated by a subsequent book’s outreach.
- a book can complete a series of family accounts and finish the task emotionally for the writer, bringing peace in its publication.
- a book may have sold well and the writer wishes to pick up on that success with a follow up book.
- a writer may want o publish a book with the most sales potential.
There are writers reading this, of course, whose sole goal is to finish the book that has been eviscerating them, but there are others who have already written something—even several somethings—and want their current writing to pick up on their past achievements and promote or support their writing life.
Because we are artists does not mean we have to work blindly.
My own strategic work these days
I have been regularly working on a memoir of the early life of my deceased mate and partner, Martha Blowen. This book is supporting three later books.
Seven years after her death, it has now become possible for me to deal with her material. I published a first installment of the memoir which is yet nameless in a blog post on July 23, 2015. I would most appreciate your evaluation of this first publication of new writing in the comment section of that post.
A strategic “prequel”
A slice of Martha’s story was first published in The Nice-Nice Club
Holds Its Last Meeting which is available in the My Memoir Education area of www.thememoirnetwork.com. That book is available to you free there as part of your membership. I hope you will download it and will reciprocate the gift by posting a review on Amazon.com where it is for sale. (Remember you will have to log in to My Memoir Education.)
I created The Nice-Nice Club Holds Its Last Meeting as a way to announce the series. It is my hope that readers will await—or at
least be aware of—publication of subsequent books in a projected series of memoirs which are mention in the back end of that short memoir.
Martha’s early-life memoir follows on The Nice-Nice Club Holds Its Last Meeting and will be followed by two books derived from journals that Martha and I kept during her illness. There will be a subsequent book that deals with the year following her death. It is also drawn from journals—mine.
When should outreach for a book begin. Immediately! Yesterday! Outreach, too, has to be part of writing strategically. If you are writing for family and friends (and this is a beautiful commendatory goal), this sort of strategic thinking may come down to telling them about the book. But, if you hope your writing will launch a writing career, or a writing identity, then it is appropriate to think of strategic in a more systematic way.
Questions to ask yourself
- How does your current book fit thematically and dramatically into what you have already written? If it does not, is there some tweaking that would turn stand-alone books into a series? (Series of X books tend to outsell X individual books.)
- What book (and topic) would logically follow the book you are currently working on?
- Have you thought through what belongs in each book in a series? It is unfortunate to publish a book and start a second only to realize that material you might have eliminated from the first as it was peripheral to it is essential to the second book! You are left with the choice of repeating material (and possibly alienating readers) or leaving essential material out and having your book be limp!
My send off
I offer this information about my own writing as an example of writing strategically. I have a goal to produce a line of books all supporting a topic: Martha’s illness. The series will, I hope, create some desire, when you read one, to read the others. In that sense the various books in the series will market the others.
And you? Are you strategic in some way? What are your writing plans? Do you have a strategic objective beyond just writing today? Please leave a note below.
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