The relationship you have with your ghostwriter or co-author is ultimately a working relationship. You can make it a success by applying these three suggestions.
Many new memoir writers come to The Memoir Network site—as you have done—and find here much material—informative posts on this blog and e-books, MP3s, and e-courses in the My Memoir Education area.
For some of writers who have in mind a readership of children, grandchildren, relatives and a few friends, the free material is enough—enough to supplement their writing skills and knowledge and culminate in a well-received memoir. While they want to write the best memoir they can, they also realize that the bar is not high—theirs is, after all, an appreciative audience which will be thrilled with whatever the writer produces.
For other writers, however, who want to produce a memoir read by a larger audience—people they don’t know and who don’t know them—the challenge is greater. The memoir calls for more structuring of the story line—its pacing and arching, more depth of analysis—after all, “that’s just who I was” is hardly a perceptive observation, more attention to style, greater use of fiction techniques—foreshadowing, suspense, repetition, allusions, compare and contrast.
These topics are covered in many of the blog posts, but knowledge is one thing and practice is another. So…
Many writers come to the realization that if they could have done it alone, they would have done it by now. If this is you, working with a memoir professional will bring you great dividends. It will take you from trying to write a memoir to being a published writer. Look up how an editor, coach, or ghostwriter can help you write a memoir a larger public will want to read.
What does writing a memoir have to do with a writing community?
Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
There’s a bit of folk wisdom—or there should be if there isn’t—that goes somewhat like the above.
Isn’t our belief in the truth of “show me your friends and I will show you your future” why we are reassured when we see our children hanging out with “nice” kids, children who are respectful and serious about school, who benefit from healthy pastimes—drama club, sports, an interesting job—and who find ways to enjoy themselves that is not injurious to themselves or to others? Why? Of course, when we see our children with such friends, we know they are learning, or having reinforced, habits that will serve them well as adults.
How does this apply to writing a memoir? Well …
You can become a better writer, but it will take some work.
How do you become a better writer? Well, how do you achieve mastery in any skill? The answer, however it is presented, comes down to both acquiring knowledge pertaining to the skill and to putting in the time to practice the skill with critiques available to correct your technique and approach.
This is what I look for in the membership sites I am a member of. I benefit from significant new material sent to me regularly, from the live interactions via conference calls, individual contact or webinar and I also appreciate returning to the membership pages to review material. In this way I have contact with a master and I am revising my skills in a community of practitioners.
At the Memoir Network, I have created a master writer group that meets many of the same needs I have had met in the membership groups I subscribe to. This master writer group is called Write Your First Memoir Draft Course. A membership in the Write Your First Memoir Draft Course can get you in the frame of mind to undertake and finish your memoir.
This course has all the components to guide you to become a better writer.
When you follow a memoir writing schedule to write your lifestories at a certain time, then you will not feel anguished if you are not writing all the time. Because the unconscious seems to thrive on ritual—and memory depends heavily on the cooperation of the unconscious as well as the effort to remember you will inevitably find yourself remembering more when you write regularly.
Write at the same time—say every evening from 7 to 8:30 PM or every other morning from 6:30 to 7:30 AM. You will find your imagination automatically gearing up at those times when you yourself open up to writing at set times. It’s like your appetite being whetted by knowing a mealtime is approaching. One moment you’re not hungry and the next—after you’ve realize it’s quarter to twelve—you feel famished!
You must live like a bourgeois so that you can write like a bohemian. —Honoré Balzac
There are many options for creating a schedule.
1. You can assign your writing a number of hours per week.
Many of the biggest challenges facing memoir writers can be alleviated by joining a distance-learning writing program.
Your participation will convince you that you can succeed.
Memoir writers—as all writers—work in isolation. There are many times when a memoir writer would like to have a contact with a system that could help her/him to resolve a writing issue—whether it’s a question of grammar, style, or structure.
If you were not a plumber, would you do the plumbing to your house without first learning as much as you could about plumbing?
Of course, you would want to inform yourself.
You might peruse YouTube, buy some how-to books on plumbing, give a call to a person who is a plumber to ask your questions.
Here’s how you as a new writer can follow the same process to write your first memoir draft. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
If you want to learn how to write vividly, use the following tips for avoiding vagueness in writing your memoir.
When a manuscript slips into a vagueness, the reader reads and rereads and does not quite “get it.”
“What’s the author trying to say here?” we ask ourselves. “What am I missing?”
Here are a few of my ideas as to why this may happen.
Solution if this is you: journal around the story, look at your photos, take a walk to ruminate about the events you have written about, ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to convey here? What do I really mean to say?”
People will sometimes suppose that only big drama can make an interesting memoir. Of course, there are many readers who require constant titillation if they are to remain reading. Perhaps they are not the readers you should be seeking for your memoir. Nonetheless, nearly all readers require some attention to “interesting.”
No, I do not believe that it is the scope of the drama of your memoir that is the crucial element to creating interest. Some would-be memoir-writers get discouraged by the ordinariness of their lives. Yet, I have found that almost everyone I have had a serious conversation with about memoir writing had enough happen in their lives to fashion an interesting memoir.
An interesting memoir: drama vs. dramatic story development?
Much more important than the inherent drama of an action is the dramatic development of your story.
How much does hiring a ghostwriter cost?
If you are hiring a ghostwriter, of course, one of the facets you are concerned with is how much it will cost to have your memoir written. Your concern is appropriate.
What if you had a few useful guidelines to help you determine if the costs you are being asked to pay are in line with current rates? Well, you do below…
1. Above all, do not bring a nickel and dime attitude to the process of having your memoir written.
The process is not a mechanical one in which you can expect so many words for so many dollars. Your ghostwriter will be thinking of your memoir in the shower and while doing the dishes and perhaps when out to dinner. Being a creative person, your ghost is not likely to shut off inspiration and insight. S/he might, in the most unexpected moment, realize, “Oh, this character trait seems to have led to that result and perhaps it was not that other reason my client was alluding to that was the cause. I need to talk to my client about this.”
Your ghost’s willingness to dwell with your memoir beyond the writing time will improve your memoir, and it is not likely that your ghost will charge you for the moment of insight in the shower. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
What a Top Editor Does For You
People often ask, “What sort of book editing input does a client receive from her/his Memoir Network editor?”
The answer, of course, varies according to the client. No two receive the same response. We always individualize.
You persist in asking, “Yes, yes, but what sort of manuscript input can I expect from a memoir editor that I begin to work with?”
“Ok, I get it—you want a sample communication.”
Here is one that went out to a new client who had sent us a manuscript and wanted us to read it through and make overall recommendations. This is an actual letter so, to protect the client, we have taken out all references that might point to the client and identify him or her or his or her story. We’ll show you the same respect.
What a top editor does for you is push you
Dear Editing Client,
I have read through about half the text you sent. So many good things to say about the memoir manuscript: [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Choosing the Right Memoir Writing Coach
How do you choose the best memoir writing coach for you and your book? Your relationship with your memoir writing coach is likely to be a long one. There is no other way to make it effective. Coaching is like counseling in a way. Counseling requires an introductory, getting-to-know-you phase before both of you can move on to a productive phase. You can’t expect a counselor to help you with your core issues until the two of you have had some exploratory conversations and the counselor has gotten some bearing on your “stuff.” In a similar way, a writing coach has to get to know you before s/he can help you with your core writing issues.