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You start with a burst of writing motivation. You are super energized!

“By gosh, this memoir is going to get written and it’s going to be good!” you tell yourself. And the writing flows for the first while. Your writing motivation remains high. You write regularly and you think about how to make your memoir better and better. At last, you feel like you are a “real writer!” Then…

A day—or two or three—goes by without any writing. Then that “not writing” repeats itself the next week.

“But that’s ok,” you tell yourself . “I’m just taking a few days off.” But…

The few days off eventually become many days off and the memoir begins to seem a bit less interesting.

You realize you aren’t making much progress. Your writing motivation is on the wane. You ask yourself…

“Is this really worth my time to write?”

You have entered a dangerous path! It leads to quitting.

Don’t.

Below are articles whose goal is to help you to sustain your writing motivation for the long run of creating a memoir.

No one said it was going to be easy—just that you can do it. The fact is…

Many people just like you have written interesting and meaningful memoirs and so can you.

write your memoir

Your Memoir: an Arrest of Disorder

Each poem clarifies something. But then you’ve got to do it again. You can’t get ‘clarified’ to stay so: let you not think that. In a way, it’s like nothing more than blowing smoke rings. Making little poems encourages a man to see that there is shapeliness in the world. A poem is an arrest of disorder.

—Robert Frost, poet

Generating the arrest of disorder of life

When I read the quote above, I did not have to make much of a leap to sense that the words “An arrest of disorder” apply to the task you and I undertake when we write memoir. More than anything perhaps, we want an arrest of disorder. Disorder seems to be everywhere in life. And so, we take our raw material—the events of our lives and of the lives of the people who surround us—and endeavor to make meaning of it all. In short, we take up our mishmash of events, our disorder of memories, and attempt to make order—or, at the least, to create an arrest of disorder.

This rendering of order proves to be soothing. It is what we deeply wish to achieve in our lives—to have all the disparate and seemingly meaningless (or at least random) occurrences, wishes, pains somehow come together coherently, meaningfully. It all happened, we realize in an “A-ha!” moment, for some reason rather than by chance.

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the role of passion in your memoir

The Role of Passion in Your Memoir

Passion in your memoir

Understanding the role of passion in your memoir will help you to access the emotional side of your writing more easily and enable you to stay longer and more deeply in the memoir conversation. Understanding will add balance between your will to write and the passion that prompted you to write in the first place.

For a long time, passion—or or even mere feeling—was not thought to be necessary for good writing. As an extreme example, recall the works of John Dryden and of Alexander Pope. Not only were these writers not passionate in their writing, but were proud to have expunge all feelings from their texts. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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three reasons we tell stories

Three Reasons Why We Tell Stories

Why we tell stories

There are many reasons why we tell stories. Stories fascinate us all our lives. As children, we loved to be told fairy tales and to hear, time after time, the tales our parents told us about what we did and said when we were babies, as well as the stories about their own childhoods. As soon as we were old enough, we told stories about ourselves for our parents and for our friends.

As adults, we speak in stories at work, at family get-togethers, at class reunions, at town meetings, at the post office when we meet our neighbors. In fact, stories are such an important medium for us that even the numerous stories we tell and hear daily are not enough to satisfy our enormous appetites–we consume additional stories by reading novels, seeing movies, and watching dramas on television. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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the role of passion in your memoir

One Reason to Write a Memoir

Q. One reason to write a memoir, I know, is that a memoir can touch a life. I’m writing my memoirs to help my children and grandchildren to live better lives. My memoir can make the difference between success or failure in their lives. Isn’t that a good reason to write a memoir?

A. Your intent is laudatory, but I think it might be misplaced. Since most memoirs will not earn back the expense that went into them let alone your time, a better reason to write a memoir focuses on the most important audience you can find—you!

This is what all your life  experience comes down to: it is/was transformative primarily for you—not for others. Remember how someone sat you down as a young person and shared his/her life experience and concluded with “And my experience tells me you ought to do this or that!”

Were you likely to have changed your mind? Perhaps, yes; perhaps not. It depended on how that person’s experience corresponded with yours?

A Reason to write a memoir is that the writing brings us closer to being fully alive!

Joseph Campbell wrote, more than to access meaning, we seek to be fully alive. My own experience of writing my (many!) memoirs has been what it has brought to my understanding of my own life. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Don’t Use A Writing Prompt Unless…

A writing prompt seems like a good idea—but is it really?

You are given a writing based on a writing prompt—let’s say, “Write about something physical you were afraid of as a child?”—and you instantly start to write about the water slide at Camp Algonquin you were sent to as an eight-year old. You are not sure why you are so moved to write this story but you do not hesitate. You write about standing at the top of the slide and about Martha Cocciardi in back of you on the ladder, shouting “Get going, Patty. I want to slide, too” and, at that moment,  you realized there was nothing to be done but to throw yourself at the mercy of fate and hope you survive to enter the fourth grade. You write with some humor and emotional distance suggesting “Oh, silly me! Oh, what little problems we have as children!” [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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motivation to write

What Motivates Me to Write

This post was sent to us with the wish that it remain anonymous. We are reprinting it with that wish intact. It is going under the byline of our staff but the writer is not on our staff. That was just the most expedient way to publish this.

I come back to my writing every day because I cannot stay away. It is how I process life. Writing helps me understand what has happened and how I feel about it. My dad’s Norwegian stoicism and our family’s isolation caused by his alcoholism prevented much communication with anybody, in or out of the family. I turned to writing to “talk” to someone. I wrote letters to any relatives and pen pals who would write back, and who I felt were my friends.

As I now write my memoirs, every memory I write about teaches me something new about myself and how I’ve become the person I am. When I started my memoir, I began to forgive myself for self-defeating behaviors I could not overcome. Re-living events buried for years has brought tears, but it has helped me let go and be a less fearful, ashamed and workaholic person. Writing is the best thing I do for myself.

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excuses for not writing

Three Excuses for not Writing Your Memoir Today

Excuses for not writing

Most of us use a certain number of excuses for not writing when we want to avoid our memoir projects. In this post, I debunk a few that seem to be everyone’s favorites.

1. I don’t feel like writing my memoir today.

Does the plumber always feel like laying out a new bathroom? Or, is the parent always feeling like getting up in the middle of the night to see what the child needs?

There are many things we do in our lives because they are the natural consequences of a decision we have previously taken. Why should writing an autobiography be different? Why should you write your story only when you feel like it? A better solution would be to write according to a schedule. At eight, the plumber goes to work at plumbing. At your scheduled time, you get to work at your life story writing. Why should that be so hard to accept?

You don’t feel like writing today? Write. You feel like writing? Write. Fidelity today to your commitment is the best response to get your memoir written.

2. I am not well today.

Unless you are sick enough to stay in bed or are suffering from an acute pain such as a tooth ache, you would do well to apply the same thinking as in #1 rather than give in to this second of the excuses for not writing One can do much memoir writing even when one is “under the weather.”

Your child is crying and you don’t feel well? You get up and take care of your child. If your writing is important to you, you get on with the writing. You don’t feel well today? Write. You feel well? Write.

3. I don’t have anything to say.

This third of the excuses for not writing is like “I don’t know what to say” but worse! You are not writing essays, not philosophy. You are creating portraits of a world that is no more. You are celebrating the past. Don’t worry about having something to say. That’s “telling” and not “showing.” Just create portraits and scenes that show where you have been. That is already enough. Life story writing is not about thinking. Don’t worry about having something to say. Just show your past! You don’t feel you have anything to say today? Write. You feel you have something to say? Write.

Excuses, Excuses

See through the excuses for not writing that will jeopardize your success at writing your memoir. We are all too prone to making excuses. Writing autobiography ought to be a pleasure. Rather than indulge in discomfort-producing excuse talk, wouldn’t you really be better off to either write or retire all the feel-good-but-do-nothing talk about writing? Get the support of a writing buddy to help you through these excuses or try coaching.

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thinking about memoir writing

Thinking About Memoir Writing

Our right thinking about memoir writing projects or our right talking about them can lead to success or failure. We can be very clever about our evasive tactics and disguise them as right thinking. Here are three examples that can pass for thoughtfulness rather than evasion.

motivation to complete a memoir

Motivation to Complete A Memoir

All writers face the atrophy of motivation to complete a memoir that seems to come with writing a long literary work over months and months and even over a period of years.

Let’s face it: writing can be hard and discouraging. The most interesting of topics [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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What I Do to Stay in the Memoir-Writing Conversation

I read professional journals. Poets and Writers from cover to cover. I receive the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance e-newsletter weekly. It’s a membership newsletter and comes chock full of news about what other writers are doing, readings schedules, and announcements of book publications. Do you have…

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