Inspiration and Flow in Memoir Writing


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, Tessa Smith McGovern founder of, Brooke Warner, Executive Editor at Seal Press and expert coach at Sign up to get the free audios for the day!

Memoir Writing and Creativity in The Year of the Memoir—2012

By now quite a few people in my networks have heard that I decided to call 2012 The Year of the Memoir. Why did she do that, you wonder. What will we call next year?? More importantly–what is Snoopy writing in HIS memoir?

First of all, I trust in the powers of creativity. They are greater than I, or you, or anyone, but the deal is, we have to find ways to listen to that still small voice that whispers brilliance in our ears and we need to find ways to bring our creative thoughts and ideas into form in the world. The idea of a baby is quite different than birthing one, don’t you think? The idea of a book is an idea—until you bring it to life on the page. We need help to get our work born, we need inspiration and support. Techniques and goals.

We need to have a sense of being able to do what we want to do—so declaring it is a way to keep ourselves honest. Think of the writers—Dickens, Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck among others—who wrote and shared with other writers their creative experiences, their doubts and fears.  Each of them announced what they were working on and in so doing, created intentionality and a goal. As well as a well-oiled support group. The Impressionists did this as well, discussing, painting, trying, failing, and still they painted and changed the world.

Inspiration and Perspiration—how much of each?

Inspiration helps many of us get ourselves planted in the chair to write, but as you know, writing requires some effort, some perspiration, in order for us to wrestle with the various ideas coursing through our brains. We wrestle with technique, with images, with memories. With the Inner Critic, with the voice of family.

But we keep writing. That’s the only way. We learn from our reading—how did that author keep ME turning the pages? Why do I find it hard to put down some books and others I can’t finish. Ask those questions, learn from everyone around you. Have a beginner’s mind.

I have likened writing a memoir to a journey in other posts. This week I began teaching my online workshops and was so jazzed to hear the eagerness in the voices of the students in the workshop. They are engaged in such a creative dance on their journey to a finished memoir.

Here’s what some of them said:

  • Writing validates my experience. I feel better about who I am when I write.
  • Not writing made me realize how much I need to write to know who I am.
  • Writing my memoir has helped me get along better with my mother and ex-husband.
  • Writing about the past helped me to let it go.
  • The year of the memoir idea made me realize that I want to get my book done this year!

Having a name for the year set an intention for many of these writers.

How do you set your intention?

How do you keep your goal in mind?

Some people journal, some write out intentions and put them up on the wall.

Others put their intention on the calendar and create accountability.

What method do you want to start this week during the first month of the Year of the Memoir?

How many words will you have written by Feb. 1??

Think of Snoopy writing his memoir, and smile. It keeps you open and flexible, smiling. Keep writing!