Remember the Purpose of Your Memoir

Be sure to stay on topic.  Write a phrase or sentence of what your memoir is most deeply about, for instance: connection makes us human.  Write a phrases or sentence of what the chapter you’re writing is about: losing connection to myself makes me lose connection to others.

As you write, check these two phrases and see if what you are writing is stayingon topic. If not, take the auxiliary material out. Maybe it isn’t needed at all or perhaps it can be used elsewhere by blending it in with other writings. Perhapsyou have subplots and will track those topics too which will make your book all the more interesting, for example: care of animals on winter farm and what the freedom of movement (body) gives your protagonist once you move away from the city. Continue reading “Remember the Purpose of Your Memoir” »

Loose Endings in Memoir

In life we often have loose ends in our story. Nothing is really resolved. Things go on anyway. People come in and out of our life and we don’t do much to hold them because we are distracted or don’t care that much. Events come and go and we mean to participate again but we have a knee injury or time goes by too quickly to do it again. So much is started and drifts away. Much is said but not done. We are busy and let things be. We follow up on thoughts and ideas and sometimes, we don’t. In more recent  fiction this is shown and called an open endings toan event, thought, idea. We don’t know what happened to that person and what changed her mind. Continue reading “Loose Endings in Memoir” »

What is a Good Writing Schedule?

It’s always good to keep up a regular momentum. I don’t write at the same time every day but I know I will write in the morning. Sometimes I start at nine and other times at eleven. I know I’ll write in the morning until lunch, even a late lunch. That’s when I write best. Midday, I start to feel isolated if I haven’t been out. I use that time to swim, see a friend, take a walk, do errands and keep up with family up with matters. If I write too late at night I become too stimulated and can’t sleep so  I don’t write past eight pm. That is my rest time, my cut off time. I need some relaxation before bed and like to watch a documentary, movie or read.

I read The New Yorker and the San Francisco Chronicle every day and usually have a fiction and nonfiction book going. I like the stimulation of each and the relaxation too. I do this early morning and it helps me get out of myself and keeps my interest in the external world. Writing a lot makes me feel very internal which I like but I do want to be part of my time too. Continue reading “What is a Good Writing Schedule?” »

Writing Tips for Memoir: A Story in Time

When you are writing a story that takes place over a long period of time, be sure to let the reader know the timeline. They need to know when things are happening, how much time has passed, and what led up to the event. Don’t let the reader figure it out for herself. That’s too much work for the reader. Let the story bring her along in the flow of the story with a sense of time moving over skipped periods. You can start a list of transitional phrases to help the reader move smoothly to a new time. Add to the list as you think of more:

As time passed by I realized..

Once I realized ___, I could settle into __

For awhile, ..

Content to let my days be filled with__, I let time.. Continue reading “Writing Tips for Memoir: A Story in Time” »

Trust in the Way You Write: Your Style, Your Organization, Your Schedule

Writers like Toni Morrison or very poetic writers are interested in where “the golden thread is going.” It wouldn’t be fun to write if they knew everything they wanted to say. They write from a creative place and then review and take out digressions. This way of nonlinear writing is a flow from the subconscious and only certain personality types can work this way.

This kind of flowing writer needs help to stay on track and trust in their right brain function. In the United States, we have a left brain culture of goals and time lines of what comes first, second, third. It’s sometimes hard to believe in your way which is different. As we mature, we tend to be able to use both parts of our brain better and can do goals and light schedules and work from the creative part of our brain too. Continue reading “Trust in the Way You Write: Your Style, Your Organization, Your Schedule” »

Professional Help for Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is something with which some therapists or counselors are used to dealing. If you want to hire someone to help you, chose someone who shows on their web site that they have a creative process themselves. You can ask a professional if you can come short term, even on sliding scale if that’s your need, to solve a concern. Many therapists or coaches will say that that’s fine or will refer you to someone who does that kind of work. No harm in asking and it could be of great benefit to you for your writing project.

Some writers like to have a coach so they don’t feel so alone. Usually a coach will be paid by the hour which makes it affordable to you. A coach helps as much or as little as you want but tend to give a writer much more of a structure in the every day. Continue reading “Professional Help for Writer’s Block” »

Writing Groups Help with Writer’s Block

Not writing? Tell your group.  Go anyway and say you’re blocked and read what you’ve written about being blocked. Bring anything you’ve written and take part. Ask the group for suggestions and take them. Or at least one suggestion. Ask the group to just listen and make no suggestions so you can feel free to talk and be part of the group.

There’s no shame in writer’s block. Most writers experience blocks from time to time. Write a poem in images of the next part of your memoir. Maybe it could be a stepping stone. Write another with more images and see what you’re writing.

Sometimes I will bring a list of strong verbs to use . Sometimes I write transitional phrases like in other words or thinking of the past, I. I might bring these off assignments to help myself and others write better. Or, bring a passage I love like the last line of James Joyce’s The Dubliners so everyone can hear great, poetic writing. Continue reading “Writing Groups Help with Writer’s Block” »

Memoir as Revenge

What should we do when we want revenge in memoir?

 One thing I would caution you not to write about or do is revenge. It is never okay to write for the public with the motive of revenge. Write your own revenge thoughts in a/your journal for yourself to vent your feelings. Revenge seems to come back to you one way or another: the other will see it and be unnecessarily angry, even justifiably angry, or you’ll move past those feelings and wish you hadn’t published such anger. It’s ok to feel that way as part of your beginning healing process but to write it in first person may hurt you in the long run. And the other.

Write a short story fiction about the incident or short story somewhat fictional tale and send these out for publication. Keep the true facts and people and incident private if the motivation is to hurt someone else. Continue reading “Memoir as Revenge” »

Ordinary Life into Memoir A Plus

Readers are interested in how ordinary people solved a situation and made “good” of it. Famous is fine to read but it’s people like the reader that they can best relate to.

For those of us who live ordinary lives but something happened that seems extra- ordinary, you may decide to write a memoir of what you learned from the experience.  You need to decide when the experience really started and what time period you want to cover. Continue reading “Ordinary Life into Memoir A Plus” »

Confessional Style of Writing

Some intellectuals put down the personal or feeling modes of writing. However, there is a place for the confessional style of writing no matter what these literary lions say. Just look at the growth of memoir! People are hungry for personal stories that tell them how you coped with a certain problem or a problem they are coping with. Readers learn from reading others living seemingly ordinary lives who come to some sort of crossroads or we wouldn’t have memoirs that sell. Continue reading “Confessional Style of Writing” »