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Writers Learning About the Memory List at a "Turning Memories Into Memoirs" Workshop

Memoir Trash Talk

Three Ways Memoir Writer’s Use Trash Talk

Most of us use a certain amount of trash talk when we think about our memoir writing projects or talk about them. We are very clever about our evasive tactics however and disguise the trash as thoughtfulness. Here are a few examples of trash talk.

1. I need to do more research and interviewing before I can write my story.

Research and interviewing are essential to a memoir project but these tasks can occur during the writing of an autobiography. For now, compile your Memory List (Chapter 2 of Turning Memories Into Memoirs) and write from the list every day. Where you clearly need more information, write a note to yourself in the text and highlight it in a color. The research and interviewing can be done at some other time. Meanwhile, you are continuing to write text and moving your memoir along to completion. In time, you will research and interview for your lifestory.

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2. I’m not ready.

The trash talk of “not being ready” can include misgivings that your grammar is not yet up to par, or that you are too busy with other things, or that the material is too challenging. The fact is, if you wait for when you are ready, you may never start. A work of art is a plunge into the unknown, into uncertainty. Take the plunge into writing your story today. (You will probably never be ready!)

3. I don’t have anything to say.

No one wants to blather and prattle in print. Of course not, but many writers that I have worked with did not understand what meaning they needed to shed light on until they had already created a lot of text. There is a Latin saying that goes: the maker is made by the making. In other words, do it and you’ll learn to do it. Write your lifestory with meaning and you’ll learn to write with meaning.

These are few thoughts that we all have in some degree of severity when writing our stories, and they get in the way. They are insidious in that they seem reasonable, but they are just a variation of the trash talk that stops us from getting our autobiographies written.

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