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The Memoir Network Don't Let Writer's Block Stop You

Writing a Non-Fiction Book

Writing a non-fiction book is possible!

A common lament, I hear from writers goes like this, “I wanted a book, and I got off to a good start writing a memoir. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but then I just stopped. I don’t know why.”

What I have sometimes found is that people approach memoir-writing as an easy access to becoming “an author.”

“It’s my life after all,” people say. “I ought to know enough about myself to write a memoir without too much of a problem.”

Well, yes and no. It’s clearly your life, but feeling your way through it deeply enough to write about it with any insight, is not a sure thing.

“My own book”—the words convey an excitement and an importance that can be satisfying. And the memoir seemed an entrance, but the fact is that some people may not have the sensibility to write a memoir or may not be ready in their experience of their lives to undertake the project.

A special phrase

“My own book” remains an attractive phrase. It’s possible that you have a sensibility that would lend itself more easily to writing a non-fiction book. Whether your interests include  baking eggplant, helping someone to build a garage, or covering the history of rock mining in your area, you may be able develop it into a book that you could place in the hands of eager readers.

But as your materials increasingly take shape, intimidating—and even incapacitating—thoughts can get in the way of your beginning—and finishing. You might unconsciously grow concerned that once your writing becomes a book, an entity in itself, it could then be judged against the best books in its field (and you could be viewed as less knowledgeable than Martha Stewart or Bob Villa).

The risk of overreaching and perfectionism

True, your book, when completed, may not win the Pulitzer Prize, but to have such an expectation may be overreaching. Though it may manifest itself in your unconscious thoughts only, overreaching can be a very real deterrent to finishing your book.

Don’t second guess yourself

You must not let overly high hopes stop you from moving forward. Where you are now in your writing skill is OK. Your understanding of your subject matter is sufficient to help people and to make you an authority. You needn’t second-guess yourself. Just keep on writing.
As your book takes shape, you may also find yourself stymied with the thought that every element in it has to be perfect. It will be a real book after all. But “real” doesn’t mean “perfect.” In fact, a good writing teacher will tell you that there is no such thing as “perfect.”

My send off

You can do it; you can complete your own book. Just don’t let overreaching or perfectionism inhibiting you just when your writing could become a book that would make you proud and serve as a platform for you to attain the role you would find enjoyable.

Good luck.

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