10 Ways to Keep Writing Memoir

It happens to all of us.

You got started after you read an awesome #InspiringMoment on social media,


You went home from a writing class with a fantastic idea,


You were so filled with memories after Thanksgiving dinner and you were desperate to get home to your notebook and write the graphic details from the best holiday celebration EVER and you wrote feverishly. You wrote three pages like a demon. Those pages were art, rich in multi-sensory observations right down to the butter pats melted over Grandma's baby carrots.

Next day, you went back to do it all again.

Same energy, same imperative to get it on paper. There you were, pen poised over the crisp, white empty page of that beautiful notebook Aunt Jean gave you for your 30th birthday, the one you've been saving for these memories and moments and ...





That was ten days ago. You counted them.

Couldn't write a word if you tried now, could ya?

Didn't even bother opening the notebook today, did ya?

Take it from me, I understand. Here are some of tricks I use myself and recommend wholeheartedly to my students and clients when they feel stymied. These are tools to work around the mental excuses and overcome the real obstacles that stand in the way of your writing.

TEN -- The Ten Notebook Rule:

Every year I buy ten notebooks that are exactly the same. I number them and put them EVERYWHERE. Right now, there is a teal Moleskine in my car, on the bedside table, beside my coffee maker, on the piano, in my briefcase, and so on. You get the idea. Beautiful notebooks, pens that flow, and if color is your thing -- bright, bright, bright.

NINE -- Be Unapologetic:

It's your time, and it's your life story. When you're writing, treat it like sacred time
you are spending with yourself. Here is the advice part. Try saying "No" without apology.

"No, I can't talk right now, I'm writing."

"No, I can't do coffee at 10 tomorrow morning, I'll be writing."

"No, Honey, dinner isn't ready. I've been writing."

Treat the ink on the page in your notebook like it matters, because it does.

EIGHT -- Guilt Isn't Gonna Get Grandma's Story Down:

When you start writing about your life, it's a blast. Not long after the first ten or fifteen pages you start to feel the honeymoon is over. Outside thoughts creep in, don't they?

There are so many things I should be doing.

There are dishes, groceries and shirts to fold.

Look at the mess of this room.

It will all wait for the minutes that you give into the juice that is flowing out of your pen. Besides, you'll tidy twice as quickly with your newly found sense of satisfaction.

SEVEN -- Go Ahead and Type It, Then:

Don't feel like you're getting anywhere? Are you doubting those scratches in any one of umpteen notebooks are going to form into anything? Stop handwriting and type them up. While you're typing your words into the computer, you'll feel like changing a few things. More fulsome details will appear in your mind. You'll remember the color of the wallpaper, or what Sally was wearing and Grandpa's favorite chair was hunter green leather, so add that in. What was a few random lines you got down after a holiday feast will become a ten-page piece about how much you miss your grandfather.

SIX -- If You Want to Write Memoir, Read Memoir:

Learn from others, and glean voice, tone and attention to detail from their fine work. Pick up a memoir, any memoir. Read other people's life stories. It will get your words flowing and you'll see how beautiful remembering is. I create mini e-courses for folks filled with excerpts from memoirs that act like writing cues. It works.

FIVE -- Now is Not the Time To Share

They will ask what you're writing and they may even exclaim all the right things, but don't fall for it. When your sister says, "You're kidding. Oh my gosh, can I read some?" Simple answer: "No, not yet." The same goes for your co-worker, partner and next-door neighbor. Putting off readers may seem silly when you dream of eventually publishing your work, but trust me on this. Invite readers too early and you risk the kind of discouragement and self-consciousness that will stop your writing and change the way you write entirely.

FOUR -- Not Famous Enough and Other Naysayers

That voice inside your head will tell you that you aren't famous enough to have a memoir. It will also say that what you're writing is not any good. Tell that voice, "Thanks for chiming in, but you're not needed just now." Then keep writing because it feels amazing to savor moments, places and people you have treasured during your life.

THREE -- Who Is This For, Anyway?

Until someone feels the pouring sensation of memories triggered, spilling onto a notebook page, minutes folding into hours as you recall your first car, your teenage bedroom and the kitchen at mother's house, they cannot truly understand. Write for the joy of it, for the legacy to leave behind, or just because the tap has been turned on. That tap chose YOU. Don't think about who will read this one day, write for you.

TWO -- Get Out of Your Space

It is important to have a cozy writing place, absolutely. But train yourself to know the freedom of writing anywhere. Find a table at the coffee shop, a corner at the library or a bench at the train station. Make it your own. Make it a writing spot. Change of scenery gives the words a new way to find the page, and your stimulated, creative mind will respond to the new view.


ONE -- Find a Group, Coach, Partner, or another Writer

This doesn't have to be a solitary act. Strike up a conversation with the person across from you on the train who is also busy filling a notebook, or the daydreamer sipping a latte nearby. Get set up with people who are exactly what you need. You'll know your peeps when you find them. Maybe a person that is at the same stage you are, just trying out memoir writing. Or a group you saw advertised at the library. If you really want to soar, and love having a personal cheerleader, find a coach who specializes in your kind of writing.

Like I say on my website--Let's Make Writing a Team Sport.

Just keep going back to your notebooks and the words will come. If you want more inspiration, that's my business so click on my links and I'll see you soon.