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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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writer's block

An Effective Strategy to Work Through Writer’s Block

Why let writer’s block stop you?

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

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

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

But, this is no joke. [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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Pathway to memoir writing

Don’t De-value Your Characters by Using Cliches and Stereotypes

Cliches and Stereotypes

Don’t devalue your characters by using cliches and stereotypes. This will undermine the unique and personal feel of your memoir. Cliches and stereotypes place people in categories. As short-hand ways of writing and speaking, they reflect ready-made thoughts and adversely affect the ways we relate to our families and friends as unique individuals.

  • “She was a mother-hen; You know how mothers are!”
  • “My father had a heart of gold.”
  • “Those were beautiful days when we were happy.”

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memoir pre-writing

Three Tips for Effective Memoir Pre-Writing

Before you begin to write your memoir, there are a number of non-writing tasks which you must undertake—this phase of compiling your lifestory is called memoir pre-writing, and it is essential to writing better stories. People often think of pre-writing as a waste of time, but it is not. It will get your stories written more quickly and more interestingly. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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finding the time to write a memoir

Do You Have a Foodoir in You?

The continuing popularity of books about food and cookery is well demonstrated by the vast range available—just look along the cookery and food shelves in any bookshop or at the long lists available online. Many are collections of recipes by well-known chefs and bakers, but there is also another genre which combines memoir writing with recipes or food-related experiences. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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going deeper in a memoir

Going Deeper in a Memoir: Look at “Life’s Failed Contracts”

This post is about going deeper in a memoir, deeper even than you thought you could go when you started. This may be hard, but take a look at the contracts with life we make and the terrible disappointment that inevitably comes from making them. All of us at some time or other have made such a contract with life–in fact, we make them over and over again until we finally grow up and become present to the unfolding reality. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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finish a memoir

3 Tips to Revive and Finish a Memoir—Without Eviscerating Yourself

All of us struggle to some extent to produce writing content that will finish a memoir. Writing is often difficult. It takes time and energy—both of which the laws of entropy suggest we ought to preserve as they are constantly being diminished.

We find many compelling and valid reasons not to write: “the house is a mess”; “I ought to go to the gym while there aren’t many people there”; “my sister and I haven’t talked in a long time.”

Of course, all of these reasons are valid but, ultimately, they are all excuses. So… [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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sensory details

Why Sensory Details Bring A Memoir To Life

Successful stories are full of sensory details (colors, shapes, textures, smells, sounds, flavors. When your stories portray a vivid world (“three sweet-scented roses”) rather than a vague one (“some nice flowers”), you make it easier for readers to take the leap of faith into the world of your writing.

Abstraction kills a story

If your story has abstract and vague wording like “After a while, absence from home made fidelity difficult for him and he committed adultery…,” your readers will be less interested in (and less swayed by) what you have to say than if your narration is filled with concrete details. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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quicker writing

4 Tips For Easier, Quicker Writing

You can benefit from easier and quicker writing by adapting appropriate habits of composition. Here are four habits for writing your first draft quickly. You would do well to put them into practice. They are easy to implement and the rewards are significant. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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