Journaling Your Way to a Memoir


My first diary was a 6×6 inch leather bound book with a lock and key. I only wrote brief code-like entries. The rules in my house were that I could have no privacy, so I played it safe and didn’t record my truths, but sentences and phrases that reminded me of my memories. Years later, diary and journal writers like Virginia Woolf, Anais Nin, and May Sarton showed me that writing personal stories could invite the reader into musings and intimacies that helped me learn about my own life and showed me new ways to live.

Do you keep a journal? What do you write in it? Is it a place to download your memories, or try out writing ideas? Do you draw, doodle, or vent? Is it a legacy keeper or a way to gather ideas for your memoir?

 I got over my shyness with journals, and I, like many people, have dusty boxes filled with journals. For years, I didn’t look at them, but sometimes I do, which is a mixed blessing when I see the same themes over and over again! But I also see that the basic bones of my memoir appear again and again in my journals. The first drafts of every chapter in my memoir were born in my journals. The pages are torn and stained, a testimony to my efforts to write my memoir over the years.

Writing in a journal means that we can freely write, we have invited our writing to flow without thinking of the critics whispering in our ears because we’re not “really writing.” We are journaling, spending time in the private creative space of our minds, weaving imagination and memory.

I’m looking forward to my monthly teleseminar at the National Association of Memoir Writers on May 18th with journaling expert  and writer Amber Lea Starfire. Her book Week by Week—A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts and Meditations is a wonderful collection of ideas, themes, and writing prompts that will chase away any writer’s block—and inspire a new relationship with your journal. The book will inspire you to investigate memories that you may have forgotten, and lead you to new ways to make the connections in your heart and mind to write more–and better.

We are going to talk about the many ways you can use your journal to enhance your memoir writing—and help you get to “The End” sooner! We all know what a journey it is to write a memoir.

Where are you on your memoir journey?

What books have inspired you the most as you continue to write?

Tell us about your journaling history–do you have boxes and stack of journals?