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writing prompts

Better Than Writing Prompts – Five Tips for Creating a Memory List

Your best writing prompts

People who are writing a memoir will sometimes say, “I want to write my stories but I have forgotten so many details. Is there any way I can get them back? Should I use writing prompts?”

There is one tool above all others that makes the experience of life writing successful. That tool is not a writing prompt: it is the Memory List. No other exercise opens up the process of life writing as quickly and as surely as the thoughtful and thorough compilation of such a list. It’s simple, and as a first step, it’s crucial.

Let me tell you about the Memory List (a general term for your list of memories).

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writing a memoir

Core Focus for Writing a Memoir

Is your family one of the many whose history is at risk for getting lost to future generations because no one has written it down? Here is a clear focus for writign a memoir Writing your lifestories—even just a few—is a great way to memorialize your family and to keep the experience of your life—and […]

writing a first draft

You Can’t Write Without a First Draft

Writing Your First Draft

Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft. Write pages and pages in which you describe the who, the what, the where and the when of the story. Later, as you rework the piece, the why will be written in.

If you are one of those memoir writers who is not otherwise a writer and who will perhaps never write anything else, know that you need to be kind to yourself. In the Turning Memories Into Memoirs workshops, I am often surprised—and dismayed—at how demanding writers are on themselves at an early stage of the process. There are even times when a writer will not turn in a piece of writing because it was not “good enough”—and that in spite of my having told the group that the writing they would submit would still be in its first draft stage.

Think of the first draft of writing as “fixing” the story in the same way that in days when photographs were fixed by chemicals that stage was important if the image was not to be lost. Your first draft is the stage when you “fix” your story, keep it from being lost rather than make it into a masterpiece.

Don’t reward yourself for being a perfectionist!

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show don't tell

Show Don’t Tell: Don’t Tell Us About Your Characters—Show Them Walking Across the Page!

Show Don’t Tell Rules the Day!

How many times have you heard “Show your story rather than tell it!”

And, how many times have you gone right on and did a lot of telling! I know I have.

“Showing” is one technique that will always improve your writing. I admit that there is some great writing that makes a precedent for “tell,” but as a rule “show” is more effective.

Here are three “show don’t tell” ideas to improve your story—every time. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write a significant memoir

How to Write a Significant Memoir

That our memoir is insignificant is about the last thing we memoir writers ever want to read about our magnum opus. How do we write a significant memoir? What separates a significant memoir from an insignificant one? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fame it’s not the scope of the arena of the action. […]

theme in a memoir

Is Theme in a Memoir The Driving Force?

How important is theme in a memoir? Theme in a memoir is absolutely important! Here’s is a distinction between a family-focused autobiography and a memoir that, I hope, will help you to appreciate the value and the role of theme in a memoir.

one true sentence

Hemingway’s “One True Sentence” Can Save Your Memoir

How a “one true sentence” can save your memoir

 

I have found the “one true sentence” to be very effective in focusing both my own memoir writing and in the writing of people I have coached and edited. Hemingway’s one true sentence is an effective tool for better writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write a significant memoir

Your Life as a Myth Part 3

The following is the third installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I wrote about the orphan and the martyr. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

In the first installment of Your life as a Myth I wrote about the martyr archetype and in the second installment, I wrote about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Today, I will offer you some practical suggestions for implementing the concept of archetypes in your memoir writing.

Writing from the perspective of personal myths can explain a lot about the stories you are recording. In addition, consciously living archetypes in your own life and turning them into positive forces is a rewarding path for self-growth. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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life as a myth

Your Life as a Myth Part 1

The following is the first installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I write about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I write about the orphan and the martyr. In the third post, I write about general considerations of using myths and archetypes. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

 

Myths are the stories we create to express how we perceive the world and life. How we live our lives is determined by the myths we live by, but our lives also reveal our myths to ourselves and to the world.

What are your myths? Look at your life, at your feelings, at your responses to others. That is where your myths reside! That is where your life as a myth can be found. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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vivid characters

Vivid Characters Are Essential in a Memoir

Why Creating Vivid Characters is Essential

The people in your story are your characters. It is your task as memoirist to bring vivid characters to the attention of your readers. You must use descriptive writing to present believable characters. Without other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are question we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest.
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