Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Before You Write Your Memoir: Exercises to Prepare

The first assignment in one professor’s memoir-writing course is to begin regular journaling.
Before You Write Your Memoir: Exercises to Help You
As part of her own memoir writing process, author Shirley Hershey Showalter has been keeping a blog. For one entry, Shirley had received permission from her friend, Professor Melanie Springer Mock, to post the syllabus for a university-level memoir-writing class that Mock was teaching at George Fox University in Oregon. I think you’ll find some of the assignments from this course relevant in helping an amateur writer craft a heartfelt memoir.
The first assignment Mock gives her students is to keep a journal. We’ve talked about that here at Write My Memoirs before. Mock calls journaling “the most democratic literary form,” because everyone has a life story from which to draw, and we all own our stories. Adding that journaling also is “perhaps the most fundamental form of life writing,” Mock expresses the hope that her students will enjoy the journaling process enough to continue with it after the course ends. To guide the students in productive journaling, the syllabus advises:
“A fruitful journal will include more than a summarization of weather and what you had for lunch, although you may write about that as well. Consider using your journal to record daily events, conversations and feelings; to examine your beliefs and thoughts, as well as your reaction to certain daily experiences; to experiment with different writing styles and ideas; and to draft pieces you are working on.” I think those are good suggestions. More assignments next time—check back here next week!

As part of her own memoir writing process, author Shirley Hershey Showalter has been keeping a blog. For one entry, Shirley received permission from her friend, Professor Melanie Springer Mock, to post the syllabus for a university-level memoir-writing class that Mock was teaching at George Fox University in Oregon. I think you’ll find some of the assignments from this course relevant in helping an amateur writer craft a heartfelt memoir.

The first assignment Mock gives her students is to keep a journal. We’ve talked about that here at Write My Memoirs before. Mock calls journaling “the most democratic literary form,” because everyone has a life story from which to draw, and we all own our stories. Adding that journaling also is “perhaps the most fundamental form of life writing,” Mock expresses the hope that her students will enjoy the journaling process enough to continue with it after the course ends. To guide the students in productive journaling, the syllabus advises:

“A fruitful journal will include more than a summarization of weather and what you had for lunch, although you may write about that as well. Consider using your journal to record daily events, conversations and feelings; to examine your beliefs and thoughts, as well as your reaction to certain daily experiences; to experiment with different writing styles and ideas; and to draft pieces you are working on.” I think those are good suggestions. More assignments next time—check back here next week!

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!