Your Story Matters!
Memoir Writing Instructor Answers Your Questions
Every life is made up of stories—some are deliriously happy tales, others are devastatingly sad, and our life experiences represent every imaginable kind of emotion in between. We all have family history and life stories, and the sad truth is that if we do not preserve them, they are permanently gone. There is no rewind. There is no going back to capture them.
Q7. I would love to write my memoirs, but I have no time in my schedule. How do I squeeze in writing time?
A7. I have two tips that should be extremely helpful to you.
Tip #1-Commit to the project with a positive attitude! Rather than dwelling on excuses as to why you CANNOT, concentrate on determination that you CAN. Don’t give into procrastination syndrome. Focus on providing a priceless written legacy that only you can produce. I always emphasize that it is important not only to write facts and dates, but also your feelings about those events. Your feelings are the HEART of the stories, and the heart is what makes your memoirs more relatable to the reader. No one else can convey your personal perspective except you. It is entirely up to you to be certain that your family history and significant stories are not forever lost. You need to make a firm commitment to move forward. Remember that your completed memoir project may just serve as inspiration to other descendents to continue the tradition of recording your family’s stories.
Tip #2-Once firmly committed, make a realistic evaluation of your schedule. Are there particular days of the week when you have fewer pressing obligations? Take a look at your calendar. We schedule all important appointments, right? Schedule your writing time. If Tuesday is a quiet day on the calendar, schedule it as your writing day. If you tell yourself, “I’ll write when I have time,” it may never happen. That old procrastination syndrome will surely overtake your good intentions.
If you operate well with a specific goal, give yourself one. It could be a target of one story per week, or perhaps a specific word count or number of pages per week. It could be “x” number of stories written within a six month period. Whatever works for your schedule is a good goal. Remember that if you write a 3 to 5 page story of a different memory each week, you will have a 150 to 200 page book at the end of one year.
In one of my workshops, a lady in attendance inquired, “What if I schedule my writing time, and when it comes to that particular day I don’t feel inspired to write?” It certainly is a legitimate question. Perhaps for memoir writing, reviewing old photos, diaries or journals when the inspiration factor is elusive will bring the writer into the desired zone of focus and motivation. There are no guarantees or easy fixes, however. We will elaborate further on this topic of beneficial memoir writing tools in a future blog post.
Location can also be a factor. Personally, I have to write in a quiet place where I am uninterrupted by telephones, the temptation to check email, Facebook or Twitter, or my dear husband asking me where some item is located or wanting me to see something he is watching on television.
I have two favorite writing places:
1-There is a church in our town that has a rear parking area which overlooks a scenic, marsh-covered inlet. It is a peaceful spot, and the only potential interruptions are when my attention is snagged by a passing boat, kayaker, paddle boarder or pelican. In the summertime, I can bring a chair and sit in the small lawn area provided. In the wintertime, I simply sit in my car to read or write. The view is spectacular, and the solitude invites creativity.
2-I am fortunate enough to live no more than ten minutes from an amazing South Carolina beach. I lather up with sun screen, sit in my beach chair, gaze out at the rolling waves, and the words begin to flow from my pen to the paper. If I am attempting to do some serious writing, I bring my beach chair far away from the busy entrance area and set up in a more remote location. It makes me feel as though I am relaxing on my own private island. If I am just brainstorming, I enjoy sitting where there are multitudes of people to watch and love to jot down characteristics or perhaps even bits of conversation that I can add to my list of interesting observations that could potentially end up in a book.
You may need to experiment to find your favorite writing places. So find a location for writing where you will be uninterrupted, comfortable and inspired. Set your writing goals. Then you are ready to dive in!
Your stories are a priceless legacy!
Mary Anne Benedetto is the owner of A Writer’s Presence, LLC, a writer, speaker, blogger, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, and an affiliate teacher with the The Memoir Network. Author of 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, she offers beneficial tips, hints and critical steps in memoir writing in order to remove the “overwhelmed” factor in memoir projects.
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