The rewards of owning a business like Write My Memoirs
We are now uploading Write My Memoirs blog posts to Substack. They also will continue to be posted on the Write My Memoirs website. We update our blog with a fresh post every two weeks, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday.
For Substack users unfamiliar with Write My Memoirs, I’m using this post to introduce myself and the work of my business. For those of you accustomed to receiving an email notice of the latest blog, Substack will continue to send you those emails.
Memoirs Should Not Be Tedious
Through Write My Memoirs, I have the opportunity to help people write and publish their life stories. Some authors write what’s considered more of a full autobiography, while others stay true to the memoir genre and chronicle one event, theme or time period in their life. Either way is fine; you should write the book you want your family to have or, perhaps, the one you hope to sell.
This is such rewarding work for me. Writing/editing is my interest, my talent and what I was trained to do—I have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and have worked for decades as a professional writer and editor across many industries. I’ve also taught writing through a focus on grammar. But, while Write My Memoirs offers a go-at-your-own-pace grammar workshop, we don’t focus on grammar when helping someone complete a memoir. For many people, grammar is tedious. Writing a memoir should not be tedious.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Expressing your thoughts in writing is hard enough. Then add the aim of crafting a compelling narrative so that readers will want to continue turning the pages; even seasoned writers do not always hit that mark. It’s also challenging to dig into your own psyche, admit your mistakes or shortcomings, and reveal your vulnerability to others. When a memoir focuses on, or even just includes, a traumatic event, reliving that trauma is really difficult. Additional work is necessary in doing research to fill in memory gaps and fact-check names, dates and places. It’s easy for authors to get frustrated, impatient and, sometimes, disillusioned about whether they should even finish the task.
Helping Throughout the Memoir Writing Process
But if it were easy, these authors wouldn’t need a coach or editor. I’m so glad I’m able to help authors attain this goal. Let’s look at the process from beginning to end.
- Motivation. Simply having someone keeping you accountable can motivate you to produce work regularly—but, honestly, this is on you. I can help you design a writing schedule, and I can share a few tricks that have been shown to help people stick to the schedule, but somehow you have to get those fingers on the keyboard and put something up there on the screen. Together we can explore whether you work best with or without specific deadlines and how much nagging you’d like me to do. There’s just no one formula for everyone; staying motivated is a highly individual dynamic. It’s nice having a partner, though, and I’m in it with you all the way.
- Good writing. People like to point out all the terrible writing out there online, but I’m pretty impressed with the manuscripts I receive. So what if you write complimentary when you mean complementary or you’re partial to a haphazardly placed semicolon? I can fix those things. I find that, for first-time authors, their own memoir makes a perfect initial book, because it’s their heart that’s driving the effort. They’re writing from a deep place, so it comes out as authentic, passionate, relatable. What nonprofessionals need is polishing, which is what a professional editor can supply. The voice is still the author’s voice, but the readability improves.
- Logical organization. While a chronological memoir is fine, typically it’s more interesting to start a memoir at a pivotal moment and then trace what came before and follow up with what happened from that point forward. That takes a bit of finesse, which is where the coaching gets really helpful. Even a story written chronologically tends to need a little pause here and there to explain some background, expound about a specific character or jump ahead in one aspect to finish it up since it doesn’t much relate to the rest of the book.
- Publishing. It’s so sad when a manuscript sits in a drawer and never becomes a real book! I enjoy helping authors update, edit and finalize a previous attempt to get that work out of the drawer and onto the bookshelf. Write My Memoirs is partly a self-publishing business. We do all the preparation for our clients and can print up as many copies as our authors want, in any size, soft cover or hard cover. Speaking of covers, we help authors with cover design.
As the coaching, editing and publishing progress, I get to know the authors and enjoy the stories they tell. I’m with them as they complete this major goal. Often it’s just a few hundred pages in soft cover, but it’s their life right there in print. When their friends and family members learn that they’ve written up their lives, they all want copies. Reprints are among our most common requests. The authors then feel the result was worth the work, and I do, too.