Top Menu

Archive | Strategies for Successful Writing

In this section, you will read about processes and props you can implement to increase your success as a writer. As in all professions and trades, there are “best practices” for memoir writing that facilitate and improve your experience.

By all means, leave comments if you have a practice that you would like to share with us.

21 best memoir-writing tips

How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing—quickly and well.

It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer. Our 21 in-depth best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will take you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir. 

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography! Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Don’t skip this post: it will orient you from the start!

[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?

not telling the truth in a memoir

Not Telling the Truth in a Memoir Can Stop Your Writing

Not telling the truth in a memoir is a great way to block your writing

Many writers say they suffer from writer’s block, yet few understand that they are unable to write easily because they are is not telling the truth in a memoir. Good memoir writing depends on telling the truth.

There are a number of reasons that create difficulty in writing. I don’t want to overuse the term writer’s block because I don’t believe much in it and have seen that the famous writer’s block has been made to answer to too many problems.

1. Dealing with uncomfortable material by not telling the truth in a memoir

[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?

work with and through pain

Work With or Through Pain: Writing Painful Memories

In this video, Work With or Through Pain: Writing Through 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.

memoir writing schedule

Make a Memoir Writing Schedule That Works For You—It Will Free Your Imagination

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.

[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?

committed to writing

Be Committed to Writing and Spare Me of People Who Are “Interested” in Writing

“Interested” in writing is about self-image while “committed” to writing is about the writing itself.

“But I do want to write my book. I am very interested in writing my book,” I can hear too many writers insisting.

“Wanting to write” a book, “trying to write” one, “being interested in writing” doesn’t make it. It never does.

What I am exploring here with you is a commitment to writing your book and bringing it to successful completion.

In this post, I walk you through the significant distinction between “being interested in writing” and “being committed to writing” and how you can commit yourself to be “committed.”

[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 painful truth

Tell the painful truth in a memoir, or why washing family laundry in public is difficult

It is not always easy to tell the painful truth in a memoir—in fact, it usually isn’t.

Anyone writing a memoir must face the challenge of how to tell the truth of his or her story at the same time as one does not want to cause harm or pain. I have written elsewhere about telling the truth in a memoir. Those posts have been more on the objective level—the theory of telling the truth.

A Sugary Frosting has brought me face to face – personally – with the challenge of telling the truth. I’m not a great fan of “silly me thinking I knew how to tell the truth before I had to face the challenge!” so this is not going there. No, this piece is simply an application of what I  already knew and have written about.

A Sugary Frosting is a book that I co-authored with Martha Blowen, my deceased spouse. The title to the book came from Martha’s journals. There was an entry in which she referred to her childhood as being A Sugary Frosting with life “having to be sweet and sticky.” This definitely was part of the painful truth. [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?

truth telling

Telling the Hard Truth in Your Memoir–Are You Holding Back?

Are You Holding Back the Hard Truth in Your Memoir?

Your memoir needs the hard truth about life—your life—and sometimes that requires exposing yourself, getting “naked.”

I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt…. we have to know all we can about each other and we have to be willing to go naked.

—Mary Sarton

Wow, going around naked! Gulp! (Better hit the gym!)

But, I guess you get the idea—psychologically and emotionally naked. Your memoir needs truth telling about life—yours—and sometimes that requires exposing yourself, getting “naked.”

I would like to change the metaphor a bit, to use a metaphor that is less startling but very graphic nonetheless. It is the metaphor of the kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bowl.

I love popcorn and enjoy eating it but there always comes a moment when I get to the bottom of the bowl and the plethora of corn kernels that have been popped into delightful puffy bites gives way to the hard half-popped or not-popped-at-all kernels. These are not fun to eat. Disappointed, I walk to the trash and throw the kernels away. [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?

time for writing

Your writing is your work–Make time for writing

To make time for writing, you have to be serious about the principle that your writing is your work. You must act on it and take it as seriously as your paying job. You honor your writing schedule!

You do not show up at your work when you feel like it

If you are working as a nurse or a therapist or a business office administrator or what not, you do not show up at your work when you feel like it or when you are inspired. You have certain hours whether you work full-time or part-time during which you are expected to show up at the job. The same is true of your writing. You show up for your writing schedule.

If you write when you “get to it,” when you “feel like it,” when inspiration moves you, you will likely do little writing and almost certainly not complete a book of memoirs. If you were being paid for this memoir “job,” your boss would fire you. [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?

First paragraph

The First Paragraph Can Make or Break a Memoir for the Reader

Writers sometimes struggle with how to begin a story and will not write the story until they have the beginning—the first paragraph.

This is not a good way to proceed.

The first paragraph of a memoir sets the tone.

The first paragraph creates the tone and often presents imagery that will shape the reader’s appreciation of your story—whether a vignette or a full memoir.

In a short story I wrote many years ago, I did not compose the first paragraph until I had written the whole story. Frankly, I was stumped and did not know how to begin the story, how to launch the  reader.

[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?

A gift for you...
...because you need to get your memoir written. This little book will focus you to complete your memoir.
  • Your memoir deserves to be written. We help people get their story down—right!
  • Writing a memoir or want to improve one you're working on? Download Memoir Writing 101: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir or Lifestory / 10 Steps and a Bonus.
  • Memoir Writing 101 comes with The Lifewriter's Guides, a biweekly "workshop in an email.".
  • If you are already a member of The Memoir Network, this e-book and others are available to you free in Member Resources.