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How to Read The Memoir Writer's Blog

Twice a week or so, I create a new Memoir Writer’s Blog post. I write about a variety of topics and most of them are not in sequence with what I have written previously.

I write in the Memoir Writer’s Blog as fancy takes me. Most readers do not prefer to learn in a structured manner.  What I write today may very well be the very topic s/he needs to keep going even if the memoir writer had not known that before reading the post on The Memoir Writer’s Blog.

Is there a best way to read The Memoir Writer’s Blog?

How to Wtie Your Memoirs so Everyone Will Want to Read Them

from Bottomline Magazine

Read The Memoir Writer’s Blog as a way to create a context for you to delve into your memoir on a given day—today perhaps. Any one of the many posts can serve you as an entry point into the day’s creation.

Perhaps it is early in the morning (or at least it is time for you to write so you are early in your writing for the day). You turn your computer on, sip your coffee or tea, wonder about your day and about what you might write. You know you are going to write a portion of your memoir—or perhaps it is a memoir you are writing of one of your parents or of your spouse. Soon your RSS feed informs you there is a new post from The Memoir Writer’s Blog. You are not quite ready to start writing so you dawdle a bit and read the post. It is about technique—perhaps on beginning a section or perhaps about creating vivid character. Well, it makes sense and you decide to implement the suggestion. Or…

Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed. You have been at this writing so long! Is it really worth continuing? You begin reading today’s post and it is a piece of memoir, the piece about when my mother’s aunt left to go back to Canada and suddenly you realize how much you want to tell the story of your aunt who died when you were twelve and how you loved her and you begin to write that. It is out of sequence but you know you can connect it later to the rest of the story. Or perhaps, before you set in to write, you turn to more of the stories of my mother—and are pleased to find so many excerpts from her memoir.  You want to see how I have handled her story or perhaps simply to live for a while in another era before you begin to write about your aunt. Or…

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Perhaps you have been questioning whether you have enough skill in presenting action effectively and you turn to the categories of the blog and, sure enough, you find there a category labeled “action” under technique and you click on it. You discover several articles on how to create more effective action. In fact, you are reminded that action is not synonymous with “interesting” but that action like character and setting has to be better crafted. Or…

Perhaps it is not motivation or craft that is stopping you but the process itself. You have been having trouble with the pre-writing function and you check the blog categories and find several excellent articles on pre-writing and, before you do anything today, you read (or re-read) these articles on The Memoir Writer’s Blog. They ground you, and you move on to the writing you wish to accomplish today.

It is now clear to you that this blog, The Memoir Writer’s Blog, is an effective tool for you to learn to be a much better memoir writer. You turn to your spouse or perhaps your friend and say, “I’m getting a writing education from The Memoir Network’s blog. That’s why I turn to it whenever I commence to write.”

Then you forward a link to The Memoir Writer’s Blog to someone you know who is writing. You know the post you are alerting your friend to it will have the same effect on him/her it had on you.

So that’s how I hope you read The Memoir Writer’s Blog.

What’s in the reading for you?

1. Regular, even daily, inspiration and motivation to write.

2. Education in both craft and process that will permit you to write the best memoir you are capable of.

I hope you won’t do this.

You can, of course, read The Memoir Writer’s Blog for entertainment, as a way of making a diversion for yourself so you don’t have to do the work that is the focus of The Memoir Writer’s Blog, but I hope you won’t do this.

We publish two—sometimes three—posts per week on a variety of topics in The Memoir Writer’s Blog. Keep coming and keep checking the categories and tags for topics that will help you to succeed. Subscribe via the FOLLOW at the bottom right of the page where you find this entry. You will receive a notice of every new entry.

Keep writing. Let this be the year you write and publish your memoir.

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.

–––

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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Self-publish or Traditional Route?

Note from the editor: Below is the text of an email I received from a member of My Memoir Education asking about which was best: self-publish or traditional route. I have edited it for brevity and to preserve the writer’s anonymity.

Dear Denis, I finally finished my manuscript. What a long journey it has been! I think it is in good shape, and I am ready to publish. However, I am finding deciding on the next step to be quite challenging.

I have received conflicting advice: some people have suggested that I find a literary agent who would then find a publisher for me to go the traditional route; others have said that this traditional route—agent or publishing house—has little chance of success unless I have a large social media following for the company to market to so I would better do the self-publishing route.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Dear writer,

My own experience has been with self-publishing so whatever I can tell you is going to be colored by that choice.

Finding an agent

I believe a regular route for many writers is to publish with small house first and, when they have a track record, to then look for an agent. You are not however there in your publication history to be ready for the larger houses—possible but not probable.

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truth telling

Courgeous Truth Telling — A Revolutionary Act

One of the most transformative statements an individual can make is courageous truth telling and objectivity. In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with subtle—and not so subtle—messages about who we ought to be, it is a bold statement to take a stand for personal authenticity.

“The telling of your stories is a revolutionary act.” — Sam Keen, writer

At its best, this is what a memoir is — a statement that declares “this is who I am, who I think of myself as being.”

Lest you think that courageous truth telling is only about revealing scandals and unmasking sexual abuse, let me assure you that it is more often about smaller issues. The issues more within the realm of the everyday experience. Perhaps you were never ambitious of worldly success. This has embarrassed you but you would like to make a statement for another set of values other than financial success. Or, perhaps you have been attracted to people of your own gender and would like to bear witness to that but still fear repercussions. Or, perhaps you were a parent but, if the truth be told, you and your children might have been better off if you had not parented. As you can see, “courageous telling the truth” need not be earth shattering, but it is about incredibly essential features of ourselves. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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truth in memoir

“Making Nice” Will Trip You Up

We all have family stories that we have heard over and over again. When they are told in family gatherings, no one expects any contradiction. After all, the stories are the “truth” about someone in the family but “making nice”—not telling the truth in memoir—will trip you up.

How do you write truth in memoir?

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Don't let writer's blok stop you

Don’t Let Writer’s Block Stop You

Don’t let writer’s block stop you from producing a great memoir!

“What can I do about writer’s block?” I am asked regularly by stumped writers.

“Pretty much the same as plumber does with a plumber’s block,” I’ll respond.

People twitter at this reply. Perhaps it’s because they take my response for a joke and they’re anticipating a good punch line.

Do what you have to do if you don’t let writer’s block stop you.

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begin a memoir

How to Begin a Memoir

Many writers agonize about just where to start a life story, where to begin a memoir. There are, of course, many places where a story can be launched.

1. The place in the story at which you begin a memoir writing manuscript is almost never the place at which readers will begin to read your story in its book form.

A writer begins someplace because beginning someplace is the way it is done. It is only much later that the writer will know where to place this initial piece of writing — at the beginning or elsewhere in the memoir.

2. The first paragraphs in a story may be only a warm up and not worth preserving.

The real beginning of your story can sometimes occur in a later paragraph. Move the paragraph that ought to serve as your lead to the beginning of your story and consign your warm-up paragraphs where they belong — in the wastebasket! You’ll be glad you didn’t hide your true lead under unnecessary false starts.

3. Once you know the crisis point of your story, the place where the action is at its most intense, where a turn around has to occur, you then know what in your memoir has to be built up to.

Sometimes people know this crisis before they begin to write; sometimes they have to write a while before they know what it is. Either way, knowing the crisis will be essential. Choose scenes that lead up to the crisis. The first of these scenes is perhaps your beginning.

4. To begin a memoir, choose a moment that is the zenith or the nadir of your story for the opening chapter.

The last sentence in the introductory chapter is something like: “How did I get to this point — zenith or nadir?” Chapter Two and the rest of the book then answer this question.

In conclusion

Good luck writing as you begin your memoir. Let me know what your experience has been.

If you are looking for printed material to add to your library, visit our bookstore or Smashwords.

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writing memoir

Writing Memoir Is Not Easy

When you’re writing memoir, the project typically starts with a burst of energy. “This is going to be a good piece of writing! What am I saying, ‘good?’

“It’s going to be great!”

So we write for a month or two or even three and the energy remains strong but…

There comes a day when the demon that plagues all writers raises its ugly head and snaps at you.

“What in the world were you thinking of committing yourself to writing this horribly insignificant piece! And worse yet, what were you thinking of alerting other people that you were writing a memoir? Now, they’re going to expect something and you’re about to make a fool of yourself!”

Or, something equally terrible and intimidating goes through your mind. When that happens, what do you do?

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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 […]

the best memoir writing book

Should You Create an Outline or a Memory List for your Memoir?

DL: An outline or a Memory List? This is a perennial favorite with the search engines. I consider it to be a foundational post whose info can guide you to success. I hope you enjoy it.

A Memory List is far superior to an outline!

For some writers, there comes a moment in writing a memoir when the audacity of the undertaking hits them. Perhaps they think doorslammers like: “This can take forever.” “Writing a memoir will never pay for itself.” “I can’t afford to do this!” They reach for certainty. And that certainly if often a reversion to essay and report writing. They want an outline to assure the task gets done right. So, an outline or a Memory List?

The following is a comment to someone who asked in the Memoir Forum if she should create an outline and how to know when the page and chapters were the right length.

1. Do not write a memoir from an outline.

I do not write from an outline. Instead, I create a Memory List as outlined in Chapter 2 of Turning Memories Into Memoirs. The Memory List helps you to follow the promptings of the unconscious rather than the dictates of the conscious mind as happens with an outline. (An outline is great for an essay—”The Three Causes of the American Civil War”— but it is the death of an exploratory memoir.) So…

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shaping theme

Shaping Your Theme

It is important to spend some time shaping your theme as the theme is the message—the why—of your writing.

You imbue the whole of your story with your theme, and it, in turn, influences the choice of every element in your story—even when you’re not aware of it. In fact, all writing carries a message from the writer, an index of the motivation of the artist. Theme can be as broad as “There are good guys and bad guys, and you can tell them apart” and as subtle as “I want to tell others what it was like to live at a certain time of my life.”
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