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Monday Focus: Pre-writing is more important than you think.

Today is Monday, and it’s a great day to write a bit on your memoir!

Look to doing pre-writing today. Your pre-writing lays out the ingredients of your memoir on the “kitchen counter” of your mind.

Pre-writing is the process of gathering and ordering information before you begin to write. It includes memory Lists, genealogical research, Internet research, interviews, reviewing diaries and scrapbooks, etc.

No memoir should be written without some or even significant pre-writing. What you do before writing is important. It’s like—and all comparisons break down at some point but bear with me—organizing all your cooking ingredients on the kitchen counter before you start to mix them. Obviously, doing so takes a bit of planning, but it makes cooking easier—you don’t end up without certain ingredients for one thing—and you are more likely to arrive at pleasing results.

Having done your pre-writing you’ll find yourself prepared to create a better memoir—and probably save time in the process. Pre-writing asks you to collate everything you need before you actually start to write.

Pre-writing serves as a valuable stimulus for creating and expanding your Memory List (which I sent you info about last week). When writing my own memoirs, I’ve found that some Memory List items also required some pre-writing tasks. Undertaking pre-writing led to information or memories that, even though they perhaps did not make it into the memoir, uncovered other material that I had not thought to include previously. Once I had become conscious of these retrieved memories, I found this pre-writing material to be an important contribution to my story.

Caveat: pre-writing, done too long and exclusively, can be an avoidance of the actual writing. I have worked with people who have spent months and years in pre-writing and couldn’t get out of their rut. At its best, however, pre-writing is a form of creative lingering with your material and of doing valuable research.

Learn more about recalling information and organizing your writing before you begin. Click here.


“Denis coached me closely week by week and helped me turn my compulsive research into a well-written manuscript and then into a handsome book.” Jean Crichton Digging for Treasure/Two Pioneer Coal Developers


And remember: “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard.”

Good luck writing your stories!

Keep writing. Your memoir is important.



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