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In this video, Work With or Through Pain: Writing Painful Memories, I talk about writing through painful memories. Pain is often a barrier to memoir writing. Who wants to revisit difficult times? Although delving into the past is a generally pleasant experience and promotes healing and growth, it can also be painful. In fact, sooner or later, pain seems to come with memoir writing. This pain if not handled well, can inhibit—and even stop—you from continuing with your writing. (more…)

Write regularly for best results. Success is built on daily habits. As has been bandied about and attributed to many different speakers, it is said that “you go to the office every day for 20 years, and before you know it, you are an overnight success.”

Well, we can apply that insight to writing a memoir. Write every day for a year or two and before you know it you have a book.

“But, how did you find the time?” you are asked.

“Well…”

In this video, Write Regularly for Great Results, we discuss building good writing habits. Click below to learn more on how to build daily writing habits for your memoir.

When you get to YouTube, be sure to like this video post so that it becomes more available to other writers.

Thank you, and whatever you do today, write a bit on your memoir.

Writers ask me all the time: “Who will want to read my memoir?” Recently someone said, ”If I were to write my memoir, it would probably be of no interest to you or anyone else. There is no audience for my memoir!”

Your memoir has a niche audience.

Wondering about the available audience for your memoir is legitimate and necessary. At the core of the effort most writers commit to is a deep desire to share with others—to reach an audience. Certainly this is true of a memoir writer also.

This is the challenge: stop thinking that no one will want to read your memoir. It may be true that I may not be interested in your memoir, but someone in this wide world certainly is. There are some billion people on this planet who read English. Surely you will find there will be “an audience for my memoir” among that billion!

Find your niche

The name of the game for an unknown memoir writer seeking an audience is niche writing and marketing.

(more…)

As you articulate your memoir theme, ask yourself if this memoir theme is really yours—does it reflect your present understanding of your story and of life itself? Or is it is a residue of the accepted “wisdom” of someone else: a parent, another adult figure, society at large?

1) A theme that is authentically yours makes for better writing.

It comes from your center of experience. Writers who recognize, acknowledge, and explore their authentic memoir themes in their writing are more apt to present us with clear, to-the-point stories than those who repeat inherited memoir themes or who think they can ignore the issue of theme.

Early in our lives, you and I were naturally and rightfully the recipients of someone else’s—a parent’s or grandparent’s—understanding and interpretation of life. As long as these interpretations correspond to our own adult views, we can write easily within their context. What often happens, however, is that we continue to espouse a point of view inherited from another without realizing that it has ceased to correspond to our own. When challenged, we will say “Well, I guess I really don’t believe that anymore. Isn’t it something how I wrote (or said) that!”

2) Inauthenticity in your memoir theme will show up as a muddled point of view and mixed messages.

When you write—consciously or unconsciously—from someone else’s perspective, and there is conflict between your view and theirs, your writing will show it. Your readers will sense that you’re voicing someone else’s themes, not your own. They will be uncomfortable with your story and may tend to dismiss it.

If you want to be taken seriously as a lifewriter by others, as well as by yourself, accept that you are in charge. This is your story. You don’t have to let someone else’s perception dictate what you write—although it is often useful and honest to tell the reader how another person understood an experience or relationship differently. You can do so by using phrases like “this is Irving’s version of what happened…” Doing this will make it clear that you are not writing from anyone’s point of view but your own.

3) Championing someone else’s themes is a major source of writer’s block.

The natural way to see things is through your own point of view. The unconscious quickly refuses to provide “inspiration” to writers who subvert this natural relationship to life when they uphold someone else’s point of view rather than their own. The result of this boycott by the unconscious is the dreaded writer’s block.

Writer’s block is sometimes a way the unconscious has of telling us that we are not paying enough attention to our own insights. Next time you are stumped in your writing, ask yourself if you are being entirely authentic and personal in your choice of memoir themes.

Want a big boost learning how to be a better memoir writer? Invest in yourself. Invest in the Write Your First Memoir Draft Program.

Sometimes, years after I’ve heard from someone that he is writing a memoir, I will connect with the writer again. Perhaps it’s three or four or five years later, but the writer is working on the same memoir. I don’t get it. So I ask politely, “What has snagged the memoir?” In short…

How long does it take to write a memoir? Really? Well, I don’t actually know the answer  to “how long does it take to write a memoir?” What I know is a memoir needn’t take so long to compose.

Why do some memoirs drag on? (more…)

How much backstory is too much? Today we will discuss how to avoid too much backstory in your memoir.

I hope this is not you…

You are memoir writing about a time when you—alas—got fired from your job. As you write about this, you throw in your college studies, how much you loved your major and how eager you were for the workplace. Then you go on to write about the catty politics of the office from which you got fired. You even throw in a vignette about your boss’s spouse who came onto you and another snippet about the wasteful (and tasteless) redecorating your boss commissioned. For good measure, you describe the company’s history and…

STOP!!!

The backstory is not necessary—here, at this time. Spend your energy writing what needs to be written.

As you write about being fired, make a note of the backstory details you will want the reader to know at some point—but not now. Later when you are finished with the firing story, you can take the time to write the backstory—or move on to another episode and save the backstory for later. Once it is written, you can insert it into the manuscript where it belongs. Your love of your major will fit into your college chapters and the catty office politics will fit into another chapter—a chapter before the firing. The boss’s spouse coming onto you will also fit into an earlier chapter.

When you overwrite a story by stuffing it with backstory—and many writers seem to want to tell their entire story in what ought to be a vignette—you disrespect chronology and drama and the reader’s patience. Furthermore…

You will find editing a much easier task. No more cut (“Have I missed some text in the cutting? Do I now have a logical sequencing with what is left?”) and  paste (“Is this really the right sequence, the right place in the story? Do I have the transitions in place to make this vignette understandable here?”)

What ought the vignette about “being fired” contain?

The firing story ought to have the scene of you being fired—and some lead in and lead out. Your boss’s diction, attire, comportment are all appropriate here. Specific words and setting also fit in. Your internal chatter is good to include. The emotional aftermath—the anger, the embarrassment, the uncertainty—can be incorporated.

The firing vignette needs to be a story of something that happened at one time, in one place, to one person. Not a story about everything.

When you tell only the one  story—as it occurred, at the time, to you—you will save yourself the effort and the time of revision later. It’s not only saving the effort to cut and paste. When you write just the scene, you are much more likely to be attuned to the drama of the scene. If you write only what fits into the story, you will not have to weed out elements later to insert elsewhere nor work at recreating the inherent drama.

Memoir Start-Up Package

Writing tips like the one above can be found in the many resources in the Memoir Start-Up Package and will save you much time as you eliminate the floundering (“why is this memoir taking so long to write?”) and get more focused on your writing (Hey, when you know what you’re doing, it isn’t so hard.”)

Whatever you do today, be sure to write a few pages of your memoir.

Is hiring a memoir ghostwriter a good idea?

You’ve lived a life which you feel merits a memoir. Perhaps you’ve risen from poverty to riches, perhaps you have done a “first” and you want people to know it was you, or perhaps you want to celebrate a lost world, a world that have since disappeared. Should you write yourself or should you use a memoir ghostwriter?

You try your hand at writing but you realize that it is too difficult and that the learning curve is too steep. Perhaps you have begun to write and are lost in the shaping of an interesting memoir. (What does it mean to “shape” and “pace” a book?) Or, perhaps you could write the memoir but you are so busy with other things that you hardly have the time to devote to it.

These scenarios call for a ghostwriter who can guide you through the process and write the book  as per your instructions. But, you don’t feel comfortable with that. You have reservations.

1. Isn’t using a memoir ghostwriter a bit like cheating?

Not any more than using a carpenter to build your house or a plumber to install the bathroom. The ghost writer you hire will be a person who has written many books and is not at all daunted at the prospect of organizing 60, 70, or 80 years of scattered, incoherent, and sometimes contradictory material into a coherent memoir that your kids and, if your ambition goes there, the general public will want to read. You are hiring all sorts of professionals to do work for you. Why not a ghostwriter to create a great memoir? Your life deserves it.

2. How can another person possibly get my life right?

The ghost writer does not go off alone to make up a life for you out of whole cloth. You and your writer chat regularly (usually it is by phone), and you send all sort of notes (perhaps your  previous attempt at memoir writing are included), photocopies of letter and journals, photos. You line up interviews with people you know so that the ghostwriter can get another view of you and your life. You receive drafts of the memoir and review them carefully. Your ghostwriter and you then make alterations. (The work is never done until you say it is done.) When I wrote the life of an engineer, I warned him that I was not an engineer. After I had been working with him several months, his comment to me was “Are you sure you are not an engineer? How do you know this stuff?” I didn’t know “this stuff.” He knew it. I merely listened and gave it back to him. That’s what a good ghostwriter can do. Most of us are highly intuitive.

3. Isn’t using a memoir ghostwriter too expensive?

It can get expensive, that’s for sure. But, so can a house, a car, a second home, a trip to Hawaii, a new kitchen. In the end, a ghostwritten memoir is a legacy that you leave to another generation. You either value it as much as a new bathroom in your home or you don’t. It comes down to what you prefer to leave to another generation. I have worked with millionaires and with working-class people. Values are not reducible to money.

Should you hire a memoir ghostwriter?

If you have a story, if you do not want your story to be lost and if you cannot for whatever reason do it yourself, the wisest decision you could make is to hire a memoir ghostwriter.

Action Steps

1. Visit the memoir ghostwriting pages at thememoirnetwork.com.

2. Call 207-353-5454 today for a free consultation about how we can collaborate to write your memoir or email me at ghostwriting@thememoirnetwork.com.

3. Download the free ebook, A Consumer’s Guide to Ghostwriting Services.

There are Ways to Save on Ghostwriting Fees

Finding ways to save on ghostwriting fees can be pressing when the story needs to be told but you have to cut costs. Hiring a ghostwriter or co-author is, no questions about it, an expensive proposition.

There are ways, however, to cut the costs by doing some of the work yourself. Before doing that work, however, you would do well to ask the writer you have hired about how to turn the work in in a format that s/he can most readily make use of. Here are some suggestions:

1. Write as much of the text as you can.

It does not need to be particularly well written — just as  good as you can make it. Perhaps that will be in snippets or even in outline form. Type the text into a computer file to send it to the ghostwriter. (The ghostwriter would have to charge you to enter text into a computer file so this is a step that can save on ghostwriting fees right in the beginning.) Your writer can rewrite or polish what you send. What I love about receiving this sort of text is that it gives me your “voice” and a whole set of your vocabulary to use.

2. Photocopy your artifacts — journals, newspaper articles, diplomas, etc. — and organize them chronologically.

If anything is not clear, make notations on the photocopies. In this way, the writer can access your artifacts quickly and meaningfully. A ghostwriter can extract an amount of material from photocopies that will astound you.

3. Be easily available for consultations with the ghostwriter. You can be pro-active.

Frequent consultations (usually by phone) allows the co-author to keep on the right course in writing. You are constantly correcting any false leads s/he is making. In this way, there is no expensive inappropriate writing. In my own work, I am always amazed at people who say, “Just keep on writing. I’m too busy right now to have a telephone check in.” Be available and save of ghostwriting fees.

4. Read the text your ghostwriter sends you — carefully and every time.

This is the time to speak up about any changes you wish to make. It is also the time to save on ghostwriting fees as later on the writer may introduce text based on earlier writing that s/he thought you wanted. Then the writer not only has to change the first text you disapproved of but also all subsequent texts that depend on it.  The absolute worse time to change text is when the ghostwriter sends you what was supposed to be a final copy and now you want changes. Early changes are cheap changes! It’s the time to save on ghostwriting fees!

5. Ask the advice of the ghostwriter, rather than tell her/him, about how to structure the memoir.

A client can tell the ghostwriter s/he wants a certain treatment which the ghostwriter could easily tell you will produce a shallow or a stilted story. You have hired a professional writer for a good reason! Use that writer’s expertise.

These five suggestions to save on ghostwriting fees can go a long way to producing the best story you and the ghostwriter are capable of and also to do so in the least expensive manner possible. Remember a ghostwritten book is a work of collaboration. The ghostwriter can only do so much!

Still have questions? Get the free ebook, A Consumer’s Guide to Ghostwriting Services.

Action Steps

1. Visit the memoir ghostwriting pages at thememoirnetwork.com.

2. Call 207-353-5454 today for a free consultation about how we can collaborate to write your memoir or email me at ghostwriting@thememoirnetwork.com.

3. Download the free Consumer’s Guide to Ghostwriting Services. (Look for the  book cover photo on the right-hand side of the page.)

Get the most out of  working with a memoir ghostwriter

What a relief to have finally decided to start working with a memoir ghostwriter. The future of your relationship will depend, however, on how well and clearly you agree on the financial and procedural aspects of your collaboration. Be sure you come to agreement on the following topics.

1. Work ought to be performed by the hour rather than by the project.

While it is tempting to choose a per project fee, a project-fee arrangement is a troubling one. As the payer, you want more for your money. As the provider, the ghostwriter wants to minimize changes to the manuscript so as to be able to fulfill the project objectives in a way that is profitable for him/her. A project fee leads to conflict. A per-hour fee, while it would seem to lead to the ghostwriter stretching the project out so he can charge you more, usually this is not true. The ghostwriter is a professional with other projects to move on to after yours is done.

2. Ask the writer to submit to you in writing all the procedural requirements that will help move the project along.

This includes how to format any writing you send, how to submit photos, etc. (This clarity will help keep fees down.)

3. Request regular billing so as to keep tabs on the amount of work being performed and the amount of charges being levied.

The ghostwriter needs to be paid regularly and you must not be slammed with two months of fees that add up to the thousands of dollars.

4. If a timeline is important to you, negotiate that with the writer.

Your ghostwriter cannot meet your deadline if you do not reveal it. Be sure your deadline is not fickle but is truly important to you. Your ghostwriter will pick up the irrelevancy of your deadline and will resent your pressure and not respect it.

5. Be sure that your preferred method of communication will be possible.

Some memoir clients insist on meeting with the ghostwriter in person and will drive long distances to sit with the ghostwriter, others prefer phone calls, and still others want all communications to be by mail or e-mail. The choice ought to be yours and the ghostwriter ought to conform to it. You are paying the bill.

6. Understand what is billable and what is not.

When you call to chat about your cute granddaughter, will you be billed for that as professional time the ghostwriter is spending with the client? While such billing may seem off the wall to certain talkative clients, the co-author has a right and a need to protect himself against endless contacts with the client that sap away at office time. On the other hand, the memoir subject ought to be able to call to ask for a update on the project without being charged for doing so. Clarity about billing can go a long way towards averting conflict.

Treat your ghostwriter as the professional he is, and you will receive great service.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Working with a memoir ghostwriter to create your memoir is an excellent choice when you can’t write your book, when you do not have the time to write, or when you simply choose not to. A good ghostwriter will find your voice and use it to write a book that sounds just like you.

I have been helping people to write their stories since 1988. Call me today at 207-353-5454 for a free consultation about how you and I can collaborate to write your memoirs. I would be honored to be your memoir ghostwriter.

Next year at this time, you could be holding your memoirs!

Action Steps:

1. Visit the memoir ghostwriting pages at thememoirnetwork.com.

2. Call 207-353-5454 today for a free consultation about how we can collaborate to write your memoir or email me at ghostwriting@thememoirnetwork.com.

3. Download the free Consumer’s Guide to Ghostwriting Services. (Look for the book cover photo on the right-hand side of the page.)

After having written a good portion of their memoir, writers will sometimes begin to wonder if it is time to hire a writing professional to work with them to get the manuscript ready to go out into the world.

At this stage, they may ask, “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And, how do I know which one I need?”

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the more technical, nutsy-boltsy end of editing. Someone who is an editor will often also undertake to proofread a manuscript. Proofreading is concerned with mechanics:  spelling, punctuation, noun/verb agreement, other grammar problems, consistency (abbreviations, digits vs. numbers that are spelled out as words, etc.), obvious breaks from styling (inconsistencies in fonts, line spacing, spacing between words, and margins), and factual errors (dates, place names, historical facts).

Obviously, proofreading requires a solid foundation in grammar, vocabulary, and general knowledge. It requires an eye for detail. Proofreaders refer often to the following in hard copy or on the internet: a dictionary, an atlas, and an encyclopedia.

What Exactly Is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing ?

There is a huge difference between proofreading and editing.

Proofreading is often what clients say they want when they really are looking for editing. The use of the term may simply be a misnomer on their part.

Yes, editing can contain everything listed above as proofreading (although editors are usually upfront in telling you that you need to hire a proofreader after they are through with your memoir). The Editing process, however, is different. It is really about what you are saying—and by extension how you are saying it. Editors look for

  • solid development in timeline,
  • cause/effect relationships, details of setting, etc.,
  • clarity of writing (including rewriting suggestions or actual rewriting to eliminate obscurity, imprecision, evasions),
  • appropriateness and consistency of point of view,
  • the pacing of the story so that parts that lag are excised or made more dramatic.

Editors will critique the manuscript as a whole and its likely impact on readers, assess its pitch to the intended audience (does this match the interests of the author’s focus audience or does it miss it?), rewriting suggestions to bring out the author’s intent, suggestions for writing in scenes, and suggestions to shape the story more effectively.

Before hiring a professional editor to work with your manuscript, make certain you understand the work your manuscript needs at the point you are with it. (Wanting to have your memoir be finished is not the same as having a memoir that is actually finished.) It is a waste of time and money to get a line-by-line review of the copy—spelling, grammar, punctuation—when what you need is developmental editing—a helping hand with making the story more vivid, deeper, interesting and meaningful. You do not want to have all your periods and commas in place when what you really need is better text—those changes to create a better text will subsequently need to be proofread again for periods and commas, etc.

A common error in judgement on the writer’s part is to believe you are ready for proofreading when what you need is a developmental editor. Most writers think they are further along in the process than they are. This is natural enough as all of us who have spent a long time writing want the book finished—but we need to hold off  thinking that it is actually finished.

Editing Is a Developmental Experience

Working with an editor is appropriate as you are working on revisions of the manuscript. (If you need help with the first draft, you ought to engage a coach.) Editing is a developmental experience. Your story will be deeper and more interesting for it.

Proofreading is a service you need when you are confident that the text conveys the story you want to convey and that it embodies your theme. (Often, your editor will tell you that the story is ready to go to a proofreader.) Proofreading is last in the line of the services you need to make use of before sending your memoir out into the world.

Good luck with your writing and remember to respect the difference between proofreading and editing. Your memoir will be better for it.

Action Steps

1. Visit the  Memoir Editing pages

2. Also visit the Memoir Proofreading pages.

2. Call 207-353-5454 today for a free consultation about how we can collaborate to get your memoir written or email me at memoirs@thememoirnetwork.com.

3. Sign up for a 3-hour trial of Memoir Editing or the 1-hour trial of Proofreading.

work with and through pain

Work With or Through Pain: Writing Painful Memories

In this video, Work With or Through Pain: Writing Painful Memories, I talk about writing through painful memories. Pain is often a barrier to memoir writing. Who wants to revisit difficult times? Although delving into the past is a generally pleasant experience and promotes healing and growth, it can also be painful. In fact, sooner or later, pain seems to come with memoir writing. This pain if not handled well, can inhibit—and even stop—you from continuing with your writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

audience for my memoir

Who Will Be the Audience for My Memoir?

Writers ask me all the time: “Who will want to read my memoir?” Recently someone said, ”If I were to write my memoir, it would probably be of no interest to you or anyone else. There is no audience for my memoir!”

Your memoir has a niche audience.

Wondering about the available audience for your memoir is legitimate and necessary. At the core of the effort most writers commit to is a deep desire to share with others—to reach an audience. Certainly this is true of a memoir writer also.

This is the challenge: stop thinking that no one will want to read your memoir. It may be true that I may not be interested in your memoir, but someone in this wide world certainly is. There are some billion people on this planet who read English. Surely you will find there will be “an audience for my memoir” among that billion!

Find your niche

The name of the game for an unknown memoir writer seeking an audience is niche writing and marketing.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

The Memoir Network

How Long Does It Take to Write a Memoir?

Sometimes, years after I’ve heard from someone that he is writing a memoir, I will connect with the writer again. Perhaps it’s three or four or five years later, but the writer is working on the same memoir. I don’t get it. So I ask politely, “What has snagged the memoir?” In short…

How long does it take to write a memoir? Really? Well, I don’t actually know the answer  to “how long does it take to write a memoir?” What I know is a memoir needn’t take so long to compose.

Why do some memoirs drag on? [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

save on ghostwriting fees

Five Ways to Save on Ghostwriting Fees

Finding ways to save on ghostwriting fees can be pressing when the story needs to be told but you have to cut costs. Hiring a ghostwriter (co-author) is, no questions about it, an expensive proposition. There are ways, however, to cut the costs by doing some of the work yourself. Before doing that work, however, […]

working with a memoir ghostwriter

Working With a Memoir Ghostwriter – Six Tips

Hiring a memoir ghostwriter to write your memoir is an excellent choice when you can’t write your book, when you do not have the time to write, or when you simply choose not to. A good ghostwriter will find your voice and use it to write a book that sounds just like you.

woman-with-computer-jsx4qvopjG4-unsplash

The Difference Between Proofreading and Editing

Writers who have written a good portion of their memoir will sometimes begin to wonder if it is time to hire a professional to work with them. At this stage, they may ask me, “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And, how do I know which one I need?”