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archetype of your experience

Use an archetype of your experience to revive your memoir

Can an archetype of your experience refocus your memoir? “My memoir writing has grown tedious,” you bemoan. “I thought what I was writing about was exciting when I began writing. It was exciting then. I could remember so much of what happened. It was compelling. And now as the time I lived this experience recedes into the past, as the vivid memories become less vivid, I am finding it hard to continue to write. Should I give up?”

What writer has not had this experience?

One begins a memoir with a sense of the uniqueness of the story. “It simply has to be told,” you realize excitedly. “The world needs to hear about this.” Then as you write week after week, month after month, and sometimes year after year, that uniqueness sometimes seems to evaporate as you distance yourself from the period of the events and the excitement of having lived it.

You have to write at your pace.

Oh, if only you could have written the memoir in a month or two! Wouldn’t everything have been all right then? But you didn’t write it that fast—who could have?

Now you ask yourself how to get back to the visceral urge to tell your story that had animated you rather than have to live with the nag of “I’ve got to get this done?”

Perhaps you can’t get back to that “visceral urge” (any more than you can get back to your youth) but you can access an abiding commitment to write.

Reconnect to the archetype of your experience to revive your story.

One way that has been effective for me has been to reconnect to the archetype of the experience. Your story (whatever it is) is the story of the hero’s quest. You (the hero) set out from her/his home (safety, the nest) and pursued the perilous journey (what was at stake for you?). S/he encounters challenges and setbacks. But s/he prevails–or does s/he?

  1. If you have trouble seeing an archetype, imagine telling the story of a Roman or Greek god. Make it up and see what happens. Or tell the story from the point of view of a fictional hero: Superman/woman or Luke Sky Walker.
  1. What do you have to say/write about that the setting and the action and the characters of your story are merely an embodiment of? Sometimes, to use an analogy, it is said of us that we are spiritual beings living in a bodily form. In what way was your story an “archetypal story” living in your particular “story form?” If you discern the bigger story, it will animate your writing. And remember…

The archetype of your experience: a tool for your writing success

Keep the following “Rule” in mind:

  1. When you are excited about your writing, take advantage of the time and write and
  1. When you are bored by your writing, take advantage of the time and write.

That’s what it comes down to: showing up for the writing. Forget about “inspiration” and show up when it’s time! And remember…

The paradigm of using an archetype of your experience can reignite your story for you. Explore it in your way and let me know how it works for you.

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