While some people succeed at writing an interesting and meaningful memoir on their own, the fact is many people need both more technical expertise than they now have and more emotional support for the long effort they are undertaking. Many find the task of writing a memoir—however urgent and compelling—to be somewhat daunting and, if […]
Tag Archives | writing motivation
You can become a better writer, but it will take some work.
How do you become a better writer? Well, how do you achieve mastery in any skill? The answer, however it is presented, comes down to both acquiring knowledge pertaining to the skill and to putting in the time to practice the skill with critiques available to correct your technique and approach.
This is what I look for in the membership sites I am a member of. I benefit from significant new material sent to me regularly, from the live interactions via conference calls, individual contact or webinar and I also appreciate returning to the membership pages to review material. In this way I have contact with a master and I am revising my skills in a community of practitioners.
At the Memoir Network, I have created a master writer group that meets many of the same needs I have had met in the membership groups I subscribe to. This master writer group is called Write Your First Memoir Draft Course. A membership in the Write Your First Memoir Draft Course can get you in the frame of mind to undertake and finish your memoir.
This course has all the components to guide you to become a better writer.
To make time for writing, you have to be serious about the principle that your writing is your work. You must act on it and take it as seriously as your paying job. You honor your writing schedule!
You do not show up at your work when you feel like it
If you are working as a nurse or a therapist or a business office administrator or what not, you do not show up at your work when you feel like it or when you are inspired. You have certain hours whether you work full-time or part-time during which you are expected to show up at the job. The same is true of your writing. You show up for your writing schedule.
If you write when you “get to it,” when you “feel like it,” when inspiration moves you, you will likely do little writing and almost certainly not complete a book of memoirs. If you were being paid for this memoir “job,” your boss would fire you. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Ever wish you had the secret of generating a fast way to fast start writing your memoir—or most any other book?
A proven way to start writing is to follow a set of steps that will help you get into the writing habit. When I wrote and published A Sugary Frosting / A Memoir Of A Girlhood Spent in a Parsonage, I appreciated the efficiency and effectiveness of my writing process all the more. A Sugary Frosting is the story of the first 20 years of my deceased wife’s life. She had written a number of her stories but died before completing a memoir. When I took up the task, I followed what I consider to be “best practices” of memoir writing.
Below I offer them to you to help you get a fast start and to write more prolifically—and even bring it to a finish in the form of a published memoir.
Here are my nine “best practices” for memoir writing. They are tried and true and bear implementing today.
1. Set up a regular writing time. This will get you a fast start writing your memoir.
How long you write is perhaps not as important as how frequently you do so. Once you have set up a writing time, honor it as you would a medical appointment. Don’t allow others to usurp your time!
2. Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft.
We all wear many hats as we go through our days. In my case, I am a writer, a memoirist, a teacher, a memoir coach, a memoir editor, a co-author, a book publisher, and finally, a small business person. I wear those hats with pride and, I hope, some accomplishment.
Beyond these, I wear other hats as all of you do also. One is that of an athlete of sorts: there has been swimming, jogging, and weight lifting.
As people are writing a memoir they 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).
Your Memory List is always a work in process because the more you remember and jot down, the more you’ll recall. You will return to and rework your list again and again as you write your life stories. In short, it will serve as an excellent writing prompt without being a writing prompt.
1. The Memory List consists of short memory notes (three to five words is sufficient) of people, events, relationships, thoughts, feelings, things—anything—from your past.
No one said it would be easy to show up and do the work of writing a book!
“Writing is hard,” you realize again as you look at your production for the day. “Perhaps I’m not cut out for this.”
To your dismay, you have been writing in snippets for many days now. In the mornings, when you show up at your laptop—later and later it seems, you must face, as does every writer, a demanding master: your daily writing. Why can’t writing be more fun? Why can’t it be—well, to tell the truth—less hard?
Oh, how you wish it were the end of your scheduled writing period for the day! Why did you think you could do this book-writing thing!
“Whom am I kidding?” [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
How Useful Is A Memoir Timeline?
Have you ever wondered, “How long should it take to write a memoir?”
One answer, of course, is that it takes as long as it takes. While so true, this answer is not useful to those writers who are trying to get their duckies in line—looking at where the time is in their schedules to write, knowing what support to ask from their life partners, etc.
I’ve come up with a calculation for those people who want some sense of how long writing a memoir might take. The following time frame is realistic for any writer who needs a timeline to complete a 200-page memoir. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
Why not continue to write your memoir today?
—Phil Cousineau in Stoking the Creative Fires
The Phil Cousineau quote above ought to be for all of us a stirring call to continue—or to begin if that is where we are at—the writing we may have procrastinated about for so long. We fill our days with lesser tasks when we know that what we ought to be doing is writing a memoir.
It is later than you think. In the twenty-five plus years I have been doing this work, I have seen people die without writing their memoir and I have seen people grow old and lose the energy to write their memoir.
In both cases, a lifestory has been lost.
[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]
How do you pick up your memoir writing again?
If you have stopped writing because of a holiday, a vacation, an illness, or lassitude (read: “It’s too hard! I want it to be easy!”), make today—now—be the time you pick up your memoir writing again and write to the end.
[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]