If you’re seeking tips on writing your memoir, then you’ll enjoy this guest post by Danielle Perlin-Good. Danielle, a book coach, editor, and online marketing strategist, works with many authors who are writing their memoirs. In the below article, she outlines three ways to get unstuck while writing your memoir.
We all have a small, pestering voice that can lead us on a downward spiral. That voice can dictate our choices in life, how we manage our time, and how we tackle our limiting beliefs. By allowing this voice to come in and create our reality, we diminish our courage, confidence, pride, and joy. We ultimately cannot become our best selves. Realizing that this little voice exists, however, is the key to discovering how you’ll be able to start writing your first memoir.
Tackle Your Limiting Beliefs
Many aspiring authors cite that the reason for writer’s block, and the reason that one gets “stuck,” is due to fear—the fear of failing, the fear of being judged, the fear of nobody reading your work, or the fear of finding success. Ask yourself if fear is truly preventing you from reaching your goals. In order to tackle these limiting beliefs about yourself, you need to first acknowledge that you have limiting beliefs.
Next, identify your limiting beliefs. Finally, take responsibility for these limiting beliefs. Instead of saying to yourself, “I am not a good writer. I am never going to publish my book,” change the narrative and say, “I can become a better writer. I will publish my book!” When you cannot take responsibility for these thoughts, you are unconsciously telling yourself that you do not deserve to reach your goals. In order to make room to write your memoir, you must learn how to listen to the positive, encouraging voice inside of yourself.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you can be in a positive headspace, but you’re still having trouble telling your story, I suggest reading memoirs. Here’s a short list of my personal favorites: (click the title to see it on Amazon.)
- The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
- Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
- Educated by Tara Westover
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
The differences between these memoirs in particular are quite staggering. You’ll notice that while some of them discuss the author’s life chronologically, none of them would be considered an autobiography. While an autobiography is able to chronicle one’s life story from birth to old age, memoir is simply a piece of one’s life wrapped up, smoothed over, and glistening to give to an eager reader. By reading more memoirs, you’ll become more familiar with the different ways in which you could write your own memoir.
Think About Your Readership
You’re ultimately making an argument in your memoir about an event or a circumstance that took place in your life. Consider what you learned during this particular time, and show us how you made your way through. Tell us what choices you made, and how you came to decide upon those choices. Make sure that you include transcendence as well—was it one particular piece of advice, one afternoon, or the day someone handed you a baseball? What was the moment that changed the course of your life, and why should your readership care about this? Once you ask yourself these questions, you’ll have a much clearer picture as to how you can begin structuring your memoir.
Growing up Jewish, Danielle was always extremely interested in familial history, ancestry, and her roots. She loves helping others share their family’s history and showcase it to the world. She firmly believes in telling stories of the past so future generations can learn from trials and tribulations. Danielle worked at a children’s publishing company as the social media coordinator for over three years, several Chicago-area newspaper companies, and has helped numerous small businesses with their digital marketing efforts. She has more than 12 years of writing experience and has a BS in News-Editorial Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her free time, Danielle enjoys swimming, practicing yoga, being outside, and spending time with her husband and their baby boy.
Hi there! I’m Stacy Juba, an author, freelance editor, and the founder of Shortcuts for Writers. I’d love to connect. If you’re a writer, here are a few ways we can work together: