What Made Love Warrior a Best-Selling Memoir?
A Free Webinar Monday, April 17, 4 PM PDT/7 PM EDT
With Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers of WriteYourMemoirInSixMonths.com
To sign up, Click here: http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/love-warrior-free-webinar
In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton has written about emotional pain in a way that most memoirists struggle with. She grapples with addiction, painful insecurities, her husband’s infidelity, maternal overwhelm, and questions about her own lack of sex drive. Tackling a single one of these issues is tough; to expose all of them and handle them with care requires bravery and skill.
In this free webinar, memoir experts Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner will address the fears that invariably come up for writers who want to write their deepest truths and expose their most intimate—and often shameful—secrets. The webinar will address the fallouts of such naked writing—and talk about how sharing your truth has a way of both leveling everything and setting you free.
During this Free Webinar You Will Learn:
The hard truths—how to share them, why to share them, and what the consequences are for you, the writer, and the story if you don’t.
Intentional omission. What did Glennon leave out? How did this impact the story and her readers?
How to tackle hard themes, and the balance a memoir must strike when you’re sharing the intimate details of your sometimes-messy life.
Whether the fallout is worth it. A look at the repercussions of writing a memoir, how to determine your tolerance for other people’s reactions, and ways to know whether the timing is right, and if you can weather the possible consequences.
To sign up, Click here: http://writeyourbookinsixmonths.com/love-warrior-free-webinar
When we talk about our inner critic, do we understand where it comes from? Or do we assume that it comes with being born into the world? So many writers and artists talk about their inner critic, which I find helpful in normalizing that inner, irritating voice of doubt. Dani Shapiro, novelist and memoirist, talks about it in Still Writing, where she lists the voices that come to her—is she boring, can anyone understand her, does she make sense?
Some of my inner critic voices: “How dare you write about that.” “You should be ashamed to put that on the page.” “Everyone will think you’re crazy if you write about that.” “It’s terrible that you did those things, and now you’re going to write about them so someone will read it? What’s wrong with you?”
My inner critic was so bad for a while that I couldn’t even write in my journal. Each word and each sentence seemed wrong, I had no right to write, it was a useless activity, what was the point? But I’d been to enough book readings where I listened to each author talk openly about their inner critic and all the work it took for them to get their books done despite that voice. Each author held a book and read to us, a published book they wrote in spite of all the obstacles. That’s when I realized that if you just keep writing, eventually the mountain of inner critic boulders that seem to pile up in front of you will get smaller as you climb. I learned that even if you are a famous author, you have to wrestle with these forces. That this is what happens to all of us, not just beginners, and not just me.
Sometimes the inner critic is more of a feeling than an actual voice. It weighs us down, makes us detour around the tough stuff. We pull back to avoid uncomfortable feelings, like when we need to offer details about a situation where we feel ashamed or guilty, when we need to encounter some of the darker passages of our lives, to go into the labyrinth again where we fear getting lost.
When we can define and see the inner critic clearly enough to write down what it says, it’s conscious enough to work with, but what if we just don’t feel like writing, what if we don’t exactly hear a voice—we just don’t write. We don’t get to it, we have to clean the house, wash the dog, vacuum the drapes and weed the garden. We need to have coffee with our friends, though we tuck our iPad into our purse “just in case there’s time to write.” Which there never is because the groceries need to be bought and cookies made. On and on it goes. There are all tasks in life, along with car washing and repair and vet visits, but really—there IS time to write in there somewhere too—if you’re not harboring an unconscious level of the inner critic’s brakes on your creativity.
As a therapist, I have worked with people for many years to help them release the psychological bonds that keep them from living the life they’d rather live, and help them uncover the hidden regions that are beneath consciousness that block them from their creativity, whether it’s in the arts or in life itself. I find that writers can be more astute than most in hearing the inner critic’s voice, mostly out of sheer practice of fighting it off, but even they can have these hidden areas that keep them silent.
I think that sometimes hidden shame and guilt about what we want to write can fuel the inner critic’s power. It’s like an iceberg, we don’t even know it’s there or how large a space it takes underneath, where we can’t see it. When I coach my students, I look for clues to the hidden elements that signal they’re getting in their own way, making themselves small. Sometimes it’s clear in the story—for instance if they are writing about abusive parents, or if they had a harsh English teacher, or had been taught they had to be perfect. Those are ideal situations where shame can grow, and the inner critic develops from that—but of course many people have an inner critic who aren’t abused. There seems to be a continuum, from a “mild’ to “mean” inner critic.
What to do? First, don’t ignore those negative voices—they can slow us down and get in the way of our writing. The voices often do not just “go away.”
Write down what the voices say and talk back to them! If the voice says you don’t have a good memory, counter with, “These are my memories and I as I write, perhaps I will remember more.” Or if it says, “You can’t write,” answer back, “I write well enough for this first draft, and I will get better the more I write, so I should get started now.”
If the voices are more of “what will people think,” you need to create a safe bubble by committing to write only for your writing group or writing buddy or coach. After all, no one will know what you’re writing about the family or your secrets unless you tell them or show them.
I suggest that writing needs to be protected like a new plant in your garden. Protect it until you have most of a manuscript, until you know what you have to say, when you see it on the page. Most people freak out too early in the process about what people will think someday, when they have written nothing yet.
Step by step your book evolves, chapter by chapter, sentence by sentence. Allow and invite your writing to show up, and your inner critic will become softer and perhaps less belligerent. You can win over your inner critic by writing!
1. What does your inner critic say to you, and when?
2. Do you talk back to it? If not start today!
3. Is your inner critic really the “voice” of your family?
4. What do you need to do to feel safe to write your memoir?
Writers are in the midst of what can only be seen as a revolution. We are in a ground-breaking evolution of publishing from a process that required gatekeepers—agents, editors, and editorial boards—to an open market where you get to choose how and when your work is published. Third way publishing, hybrid publishing, and self-publishing “companies” open the way for you to publish your book. The eBook has revolutionized the definition of what a book is. Even die-hard book sniffers and book lovers will read on a Kindle or platform other than paper. If you want to publish a book, it has never been easier!
Where are you in this new publishing world? As you begin to think of all the choices, you may feel overwhelmed, but the Internet can deliver to you encyclopedic amounts of information about any of the topics that have to do with publishing. Just search, find, read, and digest the information available to you.
However, to self-publish in almost any format, you have to be able to pay for someone’s services. To present the best book you can write, you need editors, proofreaders, and designers for your interior and your cover—people DO judge a book by its cover. If you try to publish your work without extensive editing passes, you will not end up happy. People DO judge your book by the quality of the writing and the care you take to create a good “product.” The final package, the end game to all your writing is, after all, something to sell, something that you offer to someone else for a fee. And it must prove its value. Of course, you want to present your “baby”– your story and your book in the best way possible.
So, how to afford this new venture? Most people need to make a financial plan for their book, unless they are lucky enough to already have enough money to pay for the costs of production. By now, most of you have heard of “crowd-sourcing”—a way to involve the community in raising money for a project.
This month’s Roundtable Discussion at the National Association of Memoir Writers Free Teleseminar will address how Pubslush, a crowdfunding company especially for authors, can help you make your publishing and marketing a success.
Our guest is the VP of Pubslush, Amanda Barbara, along with two NAMW authors who successfully funded their books through Pubslush, Sonia Marsh and Kathy Pooler. Please join us for a lively and informative discussion about publishing, fund-raising, and marketing your book. Empower yourself to complete your book! join us for free! Click this link to sign up and receive the audio for free, to listen to if you can’t join us and to have as a resource later.
For the last two years, I’ve been teaching several different memoir classes with my colleague, Brooke Warner, in our Write Your Memoir in Six Months programs.
The Glass Castle will be the third class in our bestselling memoir series, following Wild and Eat, Pray, Love.
Tuesdays, April 22-May 13, 2014, from 4-5pm PT/7-8pm ET
To Register, please go here.
To start, join us for our free webinar on April 15, looking at what made The Glass Castle strike such a nerve with readers everywhere. We will examine the universal themes, outside-the-box reasons why this book was a success, and the question of writing deep, dark truths, and how and why memoir that’s transformational touches readers at their core.
1-Month Intro Course
Class 1. April 22 Memory & Writing Dark Truths
• Writing scene as memories.
• How to write trauma, and through trauma and difficult memories.
• What it means to write dispassionately, and why it’s important.
• An exploration of truth and how the reader perceives the truth.
Class 2. April 29 Structure & Takeaway
• The difference between scene and vignette.
• How Jeannette Walls got away with writing a book of vignettes—the secret is in the narrative arc.
• How takeaway is handled through another person’s insights—in this case Jeannette’s mother
• The consequences of pulling the reader out of the fictive dream.
Class 3. May 6 Voice of Innocence vs. Voice of Experience
• How Jeannette Walls handles both voices.
• Showing the issues of the family through different narrative voices.
• “Showing” versus “telling,” and how it’s especially important when dealing with trauma and hard or negative memories.
• The power of showing through the child’s perspective—and how to make this work.
Class 4. May 13 Themes
• Why Jeannette Walls’s themes made her book a bestseller.
• The power of metaphor to drive a theme home.
• Why universal themes strike a nerve and how to pay attention to your themes.
• Why “through-threads” are part of the equation, and how to integrate through-threads into your own memoir.
Our spring 2013 class, “The Craft of Memoir,” was our most successful class yet. We are offering a sample here of Class #2 about SCENES & TRANSACTIONS. You can download it here, or you can buy the whole course.
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE CALL—SCENE & TRANSITION IN WILD
• Mapping your scenes through transitions.
• How to use transitions to keep your reader contained.
• Making use of line breaks.
• How scaffolding can help you better understand transitions.
The Craft of Memoir: Wild as a Guide to Becoming a Better Writer
Linda Joy and Brooke both fell in love with Cheryl Strayed’s Wild when we read it, and we immediately saw its value as a teaching tool for all of the skills the author brings to the memoir. Strayed uses what’s called a framed structure, meaning that she writes the story of her life, but uses her limited time on the Pacific Crest Trail as a means to contain her story. In this class we’ll showcase some of the things Strayed does brilliantly—structure, transitions, flashbacks vs. memory, and reflection—so that you can begin to use all of these skills in your own writing.
CHECK OUT OUR FULL COURSE—Write Your Memoir in Six Months. The new course starts in June, 2014. The goal is to help you get 60,000 words written in six months, and teach you the skills and offer the structure to complete a first draft of your memoir.
Free Webinar! The 3 Building Blocks You Need to Write Your Memoir
February 25 at 4pm PT/5pm MT/6pm CT/7pm ET
Memoir writers need support both to write their truths and memories, as well as with how to begin and how to craft their story. In this free webinar, Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner, coaches in the Write Your Memoir in 6 Months program, explore the building blocks you need to get started and build out your memoir into a full book.
Join us to learn how to:
1. Sketch out the main ideas of your memoir—and why you are writing it.
2. Identify the themes in your memoir—and the universal message.
3. Figure out the most important craft decisions you need to make when writing your memoir.
SIGN UP FOR THE FREE WEBINAR!
Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers
Brooke Warner is the founder of Warner Coaching Inc. and the publisher of She Writes Press, a new hybrid publishing option for women writers. Brooke is passionate about books and helping writers finish their books AND get published. Brooke has been in the publishing industry for thirteen years, including seven-and-a-half years as the Executive Editor of Seal Press. She’s the author of What’s Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You from Idea to Published Author (She Writes Press, 2012), a project she completed in six months.
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., MFT, is the President and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, Instructor at Writers Digest,and Huffington Post Blogger.Linda is the author of The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, Becoming Whole, and the award-winning memoir Don’t Call Me Mother, which won the BAPIA Gold Medal prize. Her workbook Journey of Memoir was published by She Writes Press. Linda has won prizes for fiction, memoir, and poetry. She offers workshops nationally, and offers memoir coaching, manuscript evaluation, and speaks on truth in memoir, writing a family memoir, healing through memoir writing, and how to begin–and finish–your memoir.
Watching talented athletes perform gravity defying moves for a week makes me feel a tad bit earthbound, wingless, yet I know that what they are unleashing besides their battle with gravity is a deep creative process, a part of themselves that lives to challenge their limitations, to soar away from “regular reality” into another plane of existence. I felt an aha as I watched skaters lift and soar and skiers fly. As writers we create an alternate world beyond our day to day existence, imaginative spaces where something called Story lives and breathes and takes us away from gravity into another realm. Where magic happens, people are inspired to live differently, to love differently. Where people forgive decades long wounds, where hope is forged—through Story.
I noticed many similarities to writing and the Olympic winter sports on TV all week.
- You have to have discipline—and come back day after day to try again.
- It takes passion that’s renewed day after day to create a special world on the pages of your book.
- You need to develop the skills and craft to create stories that will reach out and inspire others.
- To be a writer means having a commitment to your craft, and to returning humbly to the desk even when you get a rejection slip.
- Even if you “win” by being published, you can still get better. So you come back again to create another story. And another.
- It takes a team to be in the writing Olympics—none of us can do this alone. Your team is your family, friends, writing buddies, editor, agent, publisher, publicist, and your cat or dog.
- You need a coach to help you develop your writing skills—and to challenge you to do more and do better.
- You have to be like Jeremy Abbott, who fell hard in the men’s skating competition. When you fall and things look really bad, you get up again and try again. He got a standing ovation.
- You need to endure hardship, discomfort and disappointment. You become good at cheering on the success of others while you bend down to work hard.
- Being on a team with people like you gives meaning to the challenges, and makes you part of a community that supports you, even if they get the Gold Medal and you don’t.
Some of the sports challengers skied the best they could even when there was no chance for a medal, or they flipped high on the half-pipe, or they skated with all their hearts. Their success was that they did the best they could at that moment, and they completed their event.
Writing a book is a long-term marathon, not a single event. It takes practice—some say an apprenticeship of ten years. In this era of instant everything, the real gold comes with endurance and determination, with stick-to-itiveness and working for the joy of it, not just the reward.
Of course, when we get our gold medal, or an article is published, or someone likes our blog, or we get a great review for our book, we are thrilled. We celebrate and pat ourselves on the back, and we go out there and thank our team. Some stories will never be rewarded with publication or a medal, but if you were proud of it, if you learned something writing that story, if you feel so strongly about it that you continue to try to birth it into the larger world so you can share it, you are a winner.
This week, the teams will go back home. Some competitors will have medals and some the fantastic memories of being part of the Olympics this year. Tomorrow, or perhaps next week, they will don their skates or put on their skis or snowboards and continue their sport. For the love it. And so they will get better.
What are you doing this week with your book?