How to Write Your Truths—and Keep Writing

In the last post, we examined the inner critic—how it can sow seeds of doubt about the validity of your story, and how we can worry about how the family will react, claiming that their own version of the past is the only “true” one. My advice was to accept that you are not alone! That all writers have doubts about their story, their writing, and how others will interpret the story differently and see it through their own eyes. When we write a memoir, we’re called to write OUR story, our version of the truth of our lives, the story we need to tell.Read More →

Happy New Year—it’s 2017! I like to begin the year, not exactly with a list of resolutions, but with ways to feel inspired. For many, it was a tempestuous fall season with the election and a lot of emotions that were stirred up by national and international events. Many of my writing friends told me that they comforted themselves with their creative passions, that they threw themselves into their writing as a way to create something positive that made them feel good. Writing is a way to cope with the past and the present, a way to meditate on what has meaning to us, andRead More →

5 Reasons A Memoir Conference is Good for Your Writing Life

‘Tis the season for writing conferences! As you know, we writers tend to be solitary people—we have to be willing to slave at our desks alone for months and years while we write our book. Some writers are so dedicated to their writing they’re cautious about taking the time away and spending money, but sometimes we get a much needed dose of inspiration and input from taking the time to invest in ourselves as writers. However, there are doubts and questions about such a venture. I already know how to write, so what will I get from a conference that I don’t already know? ARead More →

Truth and Reasons for Writing a Memoir

Recently I had the privilege of moderating a panel at the Bay Area Book Festival. The panel was titled “Why Write Memoir: A Conversation about Truth, Exposure, and the Genre People Love to Hate.” The title shows a perfect combination of the issues that memoir writers struggle with. In every workshop and class I teach, the conversation that brings the most questions and angst has to do with writing the truth, feeling “too exposed,” and writing material that seems to attract pointed criticisms: memoir writers are narcissistic navel gazers, all we do is moan and groan, we see ourselves as victims, and on and on. WhileRead More →

As a writing coach through the years, I’ve often found that women in particular struggle with having a voice—and with feeling empowered to get their work out into the world. I myself spent years battling my inner critic about my own memoir Don’t Call Me Mother, believing that the world would judge a story about three generations of dysfunctional mothers, that it was a domestic story and therefore not important in the world’s eyes. When I started writing, memoir was not a “thing” and fiction was king, so it’s lucky for us memoir writers that the world has shifted to be more welcoming to ourRead More →

Writing a memoir is a powerful act. That is why my book is called The Power of Memoir. The act of remembering, writing, and exploring the deepest reaches of the heart takes courage, and it will change you. Writing a memoir is a way to value yourself and your story, to honor those you have loved and who have loved you. It’s a way to heal, to come to terms with your life, and to leave a tale that others can appreciate. Most memoir writers struggle with reasons for writing their memoir. Their inner critic pops up with, “What a waste of time, who wouldRead More →

  I just returned from England—you know the country we rebelled from over 200 years ago—and they seem to like us. Every time I spoke, my accent gave me away. “Where are you from in America?” they would ask. “California.” “Oh, I want to go to San Francisco, I’ve always wanted to see it.” They would tell me about the time they came to America and how they loved it here. The waitresses and shopkeepers would sweetly tease me about the American terms I used and I soon got used to “lift” instead of “elevator,” “boot” instead of “trunk,” “queue” instead of “line.” It amazedRead More →

  We hear this term “platform” so often—and many of us are still trying to figure out what it means. It’s actually simple—it means “audience.” The concept of “platform” means that we build our audience in various ways—in person, with friends, community, colleagues, our network of other writers, people with whom we have a lot in common, and those are who are interested in our topic. This network, which has the potential to grow outward and upward—creates a launch pad for us when our book is finally done. Bit by bit, over time and with care, we create an audience who will cheer us onRead More →

  Writing stories heals body and soul, and is a powerful way to change our perspective about the past. Not only that, it’s a creative way to learn about yourself. Dr. James Pennebaker and Joshua Smith published the first research on writing as a way to heal and recover from past injuries in the Journal of the American Medicine Association in 1999. Pennebaker states that writing stories is even more healing than journaling, and helps to heal asthma, arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Dr. Pennebaker’s site has a lot of articles about writing, healing, and the benefits of using certain language as a means for healing. ThoughRead More →