Deciding to write a memoir is the easy part, right? It’s the writing that gets hard. It’s exciting at the beginning to think of the name of your book, jot down possible chapter topics and dig up old photos to remind you of times past.
But then you sit down at the computer to craft the words, one by one, that will express what you want readers to know about you. It may surprise you, especially if you’re a new author, how much motivation it takes to write day after day. Sometimes you edit or rewrite what you already have. Other times you skip a day or two altogether. Soon a week may pass without one word added to your memoir. And we all know how one week can lead into the next.
So what do you do? Everything you can think of.
- You read books on memoir writing.
- You attend a writing seminar.
- You tell friends that you’re writing a memoir for the same reason people tell friends they’re trying to lose weight—saying it out loud makes it a real goal with people expecting to hear about your progress.
- You find a “memoir buddy” to compare writing challenges and keep each other accountable.
And after all that, you still have trouble sticking with the project. You look at your work and doubt yourself. Fear, whatever—you are not making progress.
Writers’ secret weapon
You’re overlooking the obvious. A writer’s secret weapon against becoming discouraged is simple and available. When you were younger, you regularly learned new skills or got obsessed over a new hobby. Maybe you picked up an instrument, joined a sports team, tried your hand at painting—whatever it was, you expected a learning curve. You knew you wouldn’t be that great at first. But you had your piano teacher, tennis coach—someone who would give you one-on-one instruction and critique. Little by little you’d improve. And the better you got at what you were doing, what happened? The more you wanted to do it.
Writing is the same. You don’t need another book or seminar or amateur buddy. What will motivate you is a professional who will not only edit your work but explain all of your personal writing pitfalls. You have this grammar issue or that organization problem. Your sentences tend to be short and choppy or long and rambling. You want to tell how you feel about something instead of describing it vividly enough for the reader to feel what you feel just from the description.
When you read your own ideas, words and life experiences in a polished writing form—when you can say I am proud of this chapter—that’s when you’ll be motivated to keep writing. You’ll keep getting better, but that’s not the only thing you’ll notice. You’ll see that you are fearless, because the editor is your safety net. You don’t have to doubt yourself. Just write, and if it’s not perfect you’ll find out why in a forgiving, nonjudgmental manner.
As always, Write My Memoirs would be honored to be trusted to edit your life story. Visit our Writing Services page to find out more.