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We each need to be mindful of supporting our engagement in the writer’s life, of creating the atmosphere and the structure that will maximize our writing’s output and quality.

If you are writing—and I presume you would not be reading this if you were not, you must be mindful that, as a writer, you can make the process easier or more difficult.

I now that most people reading this do not aspire to become full-time writers—”Writers” with a capital “W”—but, even so, the same rules apply to you, if on a smaller scale.

What does “a writer’s life” mean?

By writer’s life I mean personal culture that supports your writing in the context of the goal you have for yourself.

If your goal is to write 10 five-page lifestories of childhood memories, that is a significantly different goal that writing  a socio-economic history of your ethnic community roots in this country using your life as a focus.

Nonetheless, both writers can benefit from observing ways to live and enhance their different versions of the writer’s life.

It begins with habits.

There are many habits you can develop and maintain to enhance your writer’s life.

  • your schedule of writing. In many case, the more you write the easier writing becomes—but, of course, not always. Writing more usually depends on—well, writing more! A regular schedule is very useful here!
  • Your reading. Read memoirs, read how-to-write books, read writing blogs,  subscribe to writing magazines to grow your writer’s life. Yes, it’s ok to actually spend money for your learning just as one day someone will pay for your memoir. One way to estimate how much you value your memoir, is to calculate your spend on developing your writing skills. You spend money money on what you value.
  • Your writing community. Writers spend time with other writers. This can be in a community-based writing group, in an online group, at workshops and academic programs.

A comparison in case you don’t “get it.”

Perhaps this will help you understand the writer’s life even more.

If you were an athlete, you would be mindful of nurturing the athlete’s life.

What might that consist of?

  • a diet with requisite protein and calories
  • regular, sustained and coached training
  • rest in between training sessions and competitions
  • deepening knowledge of the sport
  • frequenting other athletes for support and motivation

Why is it that the need to support the athlete’s life is evident if one wants to be a successful athlete, but not so the writer’s life if one wants to be a successful writer?

In conclusion

We hear writers say they don’t read memoirs, they’ve never spent money on buying how-to material, they can’t stand being around other writers.

It’s as if there have not been writers around who have created a writer’s culture that supports productivity and quality. It is in emulating their writer’s life that you can thrive as a memoir writer.

The following posts will be helpful to you in living the writer’s life.

story collecting party

November 19: Memoir Writers Need to be Memoir Readers

To write better, memoir writers need to be memoir readers.  Do you read other memoirs? Do you think it helps to study how they wrote their memoir in order for you to improve your own writing? To be a better writer, you must immerse yourself in the memoir genre, particularly in the area you are writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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a room of one's own

A Room of One’s Own to Write Memoir In

Are you a writer who has felt cramped because you do not have a dedicated space for writing your memoir?

You have read about writing spaces and have longed for one, but do you really need one?

An outside writing space

A dedicated writing space sounds great to me—and a luxury I am not willing to let my writing wait for. In fact, I have never used outside writing rooms (also known as “office”—except for once when I borrowed a summer home for a week and finished The Photo Scribe / How to Write the Stories Behind Your Photos there as I wrote ALL day. Being at that oceanside house was very productive as I had nothing else to do. It was either write or be bored. The book had been stalled and it raced to the finish line in that week.

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Memoir Writing

Stay in the Memoir Conversation: Be Part of a Writing Community

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 …

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soul work

Writing As Soul Work

You can approach writing a memoir as soul work or you can approach writing as a depressing, meaningless struggle.

Like many readers of this blog, I myself struggle with the concept of what it means to me to be a writer.

Notice I have written “what it means to me.” I am not much concerned with how other people regard me as a writer. Don’t get me wrong: I want to be read and I want to sell my books. But, I am not concerned particularly with how other people view me personally. What I am concerned with is how I view myself.

Writing as soul work involves an evolving sense of self.

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Scope: What's Right for You?

Scope: What’s Right for You?

In this video, Scope: What’s Right for You?, I ask how much time and energy are you willing to give to writing your memoir? The more honest and insightful you are in answering this question, the more pleasure you will derive from your writing and the greater the satisfaction you will find in preserving your stories. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Daily writing habits are important to a successful memoir.

Writing Your Memoir Regularly is Key to Success

Success is built on daily writing 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 bit of humor as an insight on writing […]

Showing up for Writing

Showing up for writing—regularly

In the first days of creating a manuscript when we writers sit down to write—or rededicate ourselves to writing—it is often a struggle to find the energy to show up for the task. So many things seems to compete for our attention. We ask ourselves about “the point of all of this” and “who will read this book anyway” and “will people find this memoir a bit lightweight.” But showing up—regardless of what negative thoughts go through your head—is important because that is how a habit is formed. The first ten or so weeks of writing are when you will grow the habit of writing. You will begin to need to write, to find sustenance from writing. That sustenance will keep you writing.

People have said to me, “The first months were the hardest. After a while, the writing was something I did out of habit. I didn’t necessarily like it but I showed up whenever I said I would. The after a while something happened. I didn’t feel good if I didn’t write regularly. I just didn’t feel as if I were all right. My writing seemed less of an effort, and I even thought it was better. My stories were adding up, and it made me happy to see how much I was accomplishing.”

Underpromise and overdeliver

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denisledoux300

Does calling yourself a writer make you a writer?

“How do you become a writer?” people ask me. While many of my memoir-writing clients are one-time authors, not everyone is in that category. There are a whole lot of people who join The Memoir Network who secretly want to become “a writer” and are hoping that memoir writing will be their ticket into the writer’s life.

I might, in all seriousness, respond, “Start calling yourself a writer and see what happens.”

“Does saying you are a writer make you a writer?” might be their comeback and likely will be.

Well, of course, the answer is no. Not ipso facto. But…

An example from my life

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book publishing tips

What makes you into a writer?

Does saying you are a writer make you into a writer? Well, of course, the answer is no. Not ipso facto. Thirty-five or so years ago when my wife said, “When people ask you what you do, why don’t you tell them you are a writer instead of telling them you are a teacher? You […]

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