Writing in November!
What a great month for writers! We writers are being invited from all kinds of sites, programs, blogs, and presentations to attend to our writing this month! Get this: it’s NaNoWriMo–the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Write 50,000 words of a novel in one month and get a certificate. You are supposed to write a novel, but you can use this month to challenge yourself to write your memoir. It’s a way to get that “shitty first draft” out and on the page for future editing and revision. That is the hardest part–getting out the initial “download” of the stories and memories you have in your head.
All month long it’s National Lifewriting Month, and my long term colleague and friend Denis LeDoux, owner of Soleil Lifestory Network, is offering some terrific classes and workshops this month. Check out the details at the bottom of the post.
And, at the National Association of Memoir Writers, we kick off the month with our FREE premier event the NAMW Telesummit where we invite experts to speak about story writing, publishing, blogging, and social media. NAMW is my baby, so I’m so excited to spend 6 hours on the phone talking with people I respect, and LOVE talking to.
I’ll be sharing time with Mike O’Mary, owner of Dream of Things, a small publisher of memoir, who will talk about how to present your work to a small publisher.
Lisa Cron, author of Wired on Story, will discuss the brain science behind story writing, and what our brains crave through story.
Nina Amir, who has her own amazing blog month all November: Write Nonfiction in November–a whole month of blog posts and articles about writing nonfiction–is going to speak about How to Blog your Book to help it sell.
Frances Caballo, author of the new book Social Media Just for Writers is going to educate us on social media–and make it simple and easy to use for us right brain writers who tend to not want to learn about social media. But as a reformed cynic, I can say I’ve learned how to make it easy and fun–so you can too!
Our final presenters will be Kamy Wikoff and Brooke Warner, who created SheWritesPress, a hybrid press that answers the needs of current writers, especially memoirists in this challenging and changing world of publishing.
To sign up for the free all day event–ask your questions live on the line, or get the free audio downloads afterwards–sign up here.
Resources from Denis LeDoux:
The Soleil Lifestory Network has prepared tele-classes, audios, and handouts–all free for the month of November–to support you in your writing.
Create Characters That “Live” on the Page! In this tele-class, you will learn many simple techniques to enhance the verisimilitude of your memoir characters. Monday, November 5, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET.
– Tell the Truth. In this tele-class, you will learn how to avoid sins of omission and commission and how to appreciate the truth–the whole truth. The tele-class will also discuss the pain that can often company telling the truth. Monday, November 19, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET
– Price it Right. This tele-class geared to help Memoir Professionals to assess their product and service pricing and to bring it in line with both their needs and that of the public. Monday, November 26, 2012, 8-9 PM/ET
Please join me at the National Association of Memoir Writers for a great day, and check out all the other events going on this month. And be sure to write, write, write!!
I love helping writers find information that helps them become an author, and this week, the Free Roundtable Discussion at the National Association of Writers is going to be invaluable. Sign up by clicking the link above!
October 11, 2012
4 PM PDT 5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT
Brooke Warner, former Executive editor at Seal Press will talk with us about the three choices you have for publishing. In her new book What’s Your Book? Brooke outlines the three paths you need to choose as you consider how to be published: Agents Way; Publishers Row; and Self-Publishing Boulevard.
Brooke is going to discuss in depth the many layers of decision making that are involved in deciding how to become published. As you all know, the publishing world is changing week by week! This three choice model makes it easier for authors to understand how to make informed decisions. You need to know why you might choose your path, and how to manage these important career choices. Your mind-set, goals, and dreams will help determine what fork in thepublishing road you want to take.
One of the important things Brooke writes about in her book, and we’ll talk about it on the Roundtable, is building platform—which means understanding your audience and your marketing plan–the best ways to get your book out to readers. Platform is important no matter what path to publishing you choose, and you can begin simply and long before your book is done.
More about platform:
- You need some kind of blog, with regular posts that cover the themes of your book.
- A presence on Facebook—at the minimum. You can begin with just your friends.
- Presence on Twitter is recommended—sign up for the free audio to learn more about why.
- Add other social media that you enjoy/or are learning to use.
- Create a list of ideas for how and to whom you will market your book.
- It’s important to understand the role the author plays in today’s world of publishing.
Many writers stress about these things—platform and publishing—but there are simple ways to make all this work and ways you can enjoy the process. Join us to learn more about how you can be a successful author.
Brooke will be offering a special promotion on this call. Listeners will have an opportunity to win a copy of her new book, What’s Your Book?, in which she details common challenges writers must face on their writing journey; how to build an author platform; a roadmap to getting published; and much more. I have read her book, and though I have had several books published already, and am still building platform, I learned so many new techniques and tips that will help me continue to grow as an author.
Go to this link to sign up for this dynamic and informative free discussion, and have a chance to win a copy of Brooke’s book!
See you at the Roundtable!
I’m so pleased to be in conversation with Jonna Ivin, author of Will Love for Crumbs and Denise Roessle who wrote Second Chance Mother. Each of these authors chose different routes to getting their books published–which will make for a dynamic and interesting discussion. Jonna self-published her book on Kindle while Denise chose the longer path of finding a small publisher.
When we write memoir, we are passionate to get our book out into the world, and we need to find a way that works best for the kind of book that we have and a way that works with our budget, our goals, and our audience. As everyone knows, the publishing industry is exploding with many choices these days, and by next week no doubt there will be more.
We will talk about how they chose their path to publishing and fill you in on the new options out on the market today.
Join us at the National Association of Memoir Writers Thursday, 4 PM PDT! If you sign up here, you will receive the audio download so you can listen at your leisure. Isn’t technology great!!
See you there!
I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by Kathy Pooler. She has been in my workshops and is one of my premier blogger friends. Please join her blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey.
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” Robert Cormier
Photo Credit: “The Editing Process-Before and After” uploaded from Flickr
One of the greatest benefits of a critique group is receiving constructive feedback that enables you to take your writing to the next level. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to hearing from others what is working and what is not. I have been participating in Linda Joy’s Spiritual Autobiography and Healing Memoir Teleworkshops since January, 2010, where I have learned that writing is truly rewriting.
Revision is part of the process, as much as we’d like to think we can get it done on the first try.
Let’s face it, we all want our readers to fall in love with our little darlings. Our stories are our babies. We have created them with our own hearts and hands, but sometimes we are so close to our own words that we can’t see the discrepancies, missteps and omissions–the tweaks here and there that will make our stories and our characters become alive on the pages. Learning to self-edit is essential to our growth as writers. Read this excellent post by author, Nicola Morgan, comparing self-editing to weeding a garden.
Jody Hedlund, author of several Christian novels, Preacher Bride and The Doctor’s Lady,has an excellent blog post on her reactions to her own revision process “Getting Feedback That Makes You Cry.” About the “initial sting” of feedback, she states, “You need to give it some time and then come back to the suggestions with humble and objective eyes.” I really appreciate Jody’s honest sharing about the human aspect of receiving feedback.
The point is we have to be able to separate our emotions from the process of revising, and convince ourselves that revising will make our stories stronger.
We have to get over ourselves so we can go on to craft the best story in the best way.
“Writing is rewriting” is a common mantra in writing circles. In his book, Revision and Self-Editing, novelist James Scott Bell,talks about the importance of “rewriting with know-how” and lists the following tips in the revision process:
* Cool -Down …Take a break and walk away when your first draft is done.
* Prepare… Read through your first draft completely for the first time.
* Print out and prepare a fresh copy…with red felt pen and notepad handy.
* Get ready to read your manuscript… in a couple of sittings.
* Use outside readers…for objective opinions.
* Analyze… Does my story make sense, is my plot compelling, are my characters believable? Think about the effect on your reader as you write and revise, particularly in the later stages. Then, there’s the idea of deciding when our manuscript is done–after we’ve rewritten, incorporated feedback, deleted, added on, transformed our story and owned it. Perhaps this is another topic for another time.”
It seems to me that it’s essential to accept writing as rewriting, and revising as a natural part of the process. Constructive feedback helps us to see our blind spots, and offers us a chance to see through another reader’s eyes. These steps strengthen our stories and give them every possible chance to get into the hands of readers who will devour them with the same gusto it took for us to write them.
Perhaps the real starting point is when we accept that our first draft is lousy and needs to be rewritten, revised, and reconstructed. In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls a first draft “a child who is let loose and romps all over.”
I’d love to hear how you feel about revising and editing your work.
Are you rewriting with “know-how?”
Any ideas on how to get through the revision process as painlessly as possible?
Photo Credit: “The Revision Process” uploaded from Flickr
Join Kathy and me and other memoir writers at the National Association of Memoir Writers Free Telesummit Friday March 30. Sign up to join, or get the all day conference on audio to listen to later. Guests include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Dan Blank, Social Media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of eChook, Lynn Serafinn, author of the 7 Graces of Marketing, Brooke Warner, expert writing coach at Warner Coaching, and me–Linda Joy Myers, author of The Power of Memoir. See you there!
Writers, and all creative people, have a range of ease for the output of their creative art—from freeflowing river to arid desert—and for many years, creative coaches have tried to explain why and how we achieve the desired state, and how to avoid the desert.
You know about this—you have an idea, or you don’t but you sit down and the writing bubbles out of the ends of your fingers and onto the page. You experience the joy of this flow, feeling that you’re simply a conduit for something erupting from you. It is a state of flow, a state of being that is pleasurable, natural, and rather exciting. The problem is that no one can sustain it. Many modes of persuasion have been tried to stimulate this state, from drugs and alcohol to meditation and visualization. Clearly there are healthy ways to stimulate creativity, but still it is an elusive jewel, and we are left with the fact that we have to work with the state of the human mind which is ever fluctuating.
The root of inspiration, is spirare, which means to breathe. We breathe in this special state of creative flow. We need to approach our creative state with respect and with a sense of appreciation for its fragility. One of my favorite authors Brenda Ueland writes about inspiration in her book If You Want to Write. Think about and spend time with these inspirational suggestions, and better yet, read her book!
Inspiration comes slowly and quietly.…imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
If [you have] an idleness when you walk alone for a long, long time, or take a long dreamy time dressing, or lie in bed at night and thoughts come and go, or dig in a garden or drive a car for many hours alone; or an idleness where you sit with pencil and paper or before a typewriter quietly putting down what you happen to be thinking—that is creative idleness.
…thoughts come so slowly. For what we write today slipped into our souls some other day when we were alone and doing nothing.
I love the last quote the most! What slips into your soul when you’re not looking?
Journal about these questions.
What are your creative techniques? How do you get started writing?
What kind of environment do you need? What feeds your creative soul?
Want more inspiration? Join the National Association of Memoir Writers Friday, March 30 for the Free Memoir Writing Telesummit Memoir Writing in the Digital Age. Learn from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, Lynn Serafinn, the author of the 7 Graces of Marketing, , Dan Blank, Social Media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of echook.com, Brooke Warner, Executive Editor at Seal Press and expert coach at Warnercoaching.com. Sign up to get the free audios for the day!
By the time you read these words, the “I” that wrote them will have forgotten
what it was, though the it lingers on, haunting the paper, unheard until you
happen across it and your energy field activates it. –Margaret Atwood
We write into the unknown, we launch ourselves onto tiny rafts of words so lacy and insubstantial that we wonder how it’s possible–how these black dots on paper hold the most important moments of our lives. Can words truly free us from some of the prisons we have been locked into? I have seen this happen countless times in my memoir writing workshops—the writer is surprised at how powerful her words are to unlock, to open, and to heal.
If you have been writing or journaling, you know that words can lead you out of darkness and help you to find the light. People in workshops talk about this all the time, but even though our identity and our tools for self-expression are words, at times we are at a loss to express how words can help us feel better. It seems like magic sometimes. We write into that unknown, especially when we are journaling, not knowing where we will end up. Story writing is a little different, though it too is open ended and magical.
Story as a Way of Knowledge
A story, in contrast to journaling, invites us to put events into a time frame and make choices. A story has a structure—a beginning, middle and an end that you choose and construct out of your fragments of dream and memory. Creative people—poets, painters, musicians, and writers enter into a kind of reflective dream, written about beautifully by John Gardner in The Art of Fiction. A story writer selects words that convey feeling, action, and reflection, bringing the lived moment alive to the reader. Writing creates a new experience with what had been chaotic. I like to say that story writing, including memoir, personal stories, and even fictional writing, is a “Way of Knowledge.”
Through story, you can learn about the self, about the narrator, the characters, the actions taken and the theme and outcome of the story. This creates a new world on the page and in the heart of the writer. What was perceived as “reality” before writing the story is changed by the act of writing.
Dr. James Pennebaker, who did the major research on writing as healing, points out that once we write a story, we no longer remember what “really” happened—we remember the story of what happened. The story inhabits us, and we are different as a result. Our imagination and the art of the story have created a new reality.
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
There are some openings in my online tele-workshops at the National Association of Memoir Writers for the spring session. Tuesday session begins March 27, 3 PM PDT. Monday begins April 2 at 1 PM PDT.
- Think about one of your favorite family stories–would you like to develop it further?
- What time frame have you covered in your early vignettes? Place them on the timeline to get a visual image of the quilt of your memoir.
- Character sketches: Choose some of the people you have written about in your memoir, and create a more complete scene with them. Learning about scene writing is an ongoing challenge–but rewarding. Scenes are how you bring your world to life.
- Do you struggle with writing your truths, the right to write your stories? Support and community can help you move forward with more confidence.
- Learn about quilting your vignettes into a larger work.
- Does your inner critic bother you? Learn new techniques to help silence the inner critic.
- Write about the landscapes and places that are part of your soul.
- Editing: We teach you gently how to become your own editor.
- Revision—means “seeing again.” Writing means revision, an important skill as you grow as a writer.
- Organization: we will discuss how to organize and keep track of your vignettes.
… Linda Joy is an inspirational mentor who truly makes a difference and convinces you to believe in yourself and your story…..She always provides compassionate and meaningful support and expert guidance and direction.
Re-membering through memoir writing patched together important pieces of myself long ago forgotten or abandoned. After several rounds of classes under Linda Joy Myers’ priceless guidance, all of me is finally snuggled well into my body, mind, and spirit. Prior to Linda Joy’s memoir classes, I never would have called myself a writer, Now, I can say with pride and certainty that I am indeed, a writer.
—-Author Dawn Novotny