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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.

finish writing your memoir

How to Finish Writing Your Memoir

I’ve noticed that many people who come to The Memoir Network have already been writing a while. They are not people who are  just starting out on the memoir journey. Many have already written 5, 10, 15 or more stories or vignettes. They have been writing for a number of months—sometimes even years—and are concluding that they are spinning their wheels, that they are not producing a book as they so want to do. They realize they are not on the path to bringing their memoirs to a finish. What they are doing is writing stand-along piece after stand-alone piece. Well, a stand-alone piece is not a bad goal really—wouldn’t you love to have stand-alone stories from your grandparents? It’s just that stand-alones are really just not what they want to leave as a legacy. So, how do you finish writing your memoir?

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best memoir-writing tips

How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing your memoir—quickly and well—and getting it into the hands of your public.

Note from the editor: This post is a memoir-writing course. I suggest that you glance through the whole of it, and pick those best memoir-writing tips that you most need to read at this time. Later, bit by bit, you will read the rest.

Click on the links that interest you and study the posts where you land. The links in even just a few of the tips below will uncover articles that pertain to the topic(s).

Following these best memoir-writing tips, your knowledge of memoir writing will grow more certain, and you will write with more confidence. One day, sooner than you think possible, your memoir will be published and in hand.

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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 see you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir—more easily and quickly than you may now think possible.

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! Knowing what you are writing will orient you from the start! It can be discouraging to realize that you have been headed in the wrong direction when you could have saved yourself time and energy by understanding the difference between memoir and autobiography as you launched yourself. While it’s not huge, but it can be significant.

An autobiography is about a whole life: from birth to the present. A memoir is a part of your life that is characterized by a theme. It might be about the first years of your marriage during which you realized what an immature and selfish person you were and earned to be a giving souse. This may interest many people as it is a struggle many are waging.

The fact is that, while it is totally possible to write a memoir that will interest the public and draw an audience to you, the same is not true of an autobiography. If you are famous: possibly. If you are not, it is not likely that people will be interested in what grade school you went to and how much your grandmother loved you.

(This statement about autobiography is not applicable if you are writing for a family audience. Your children and grandchildren will definitely be interested in an autobiography.)

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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. ]

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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.

—May 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. ]

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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. ]

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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.
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  • If you are already a member of The Memoir Network, this e-book and others are available to you free in Member Resources.