Memoir Writers: Write and Build Your Platform Too

 

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 on when our book comes out—and even more than that—they will buy our book and tell their friends about it!

 

Dan Blank is a social media guru and founder of WeGrowMedia.com

Dan spoke to us at the National Association of Memoir Writers 2012 Telesummit Writing in the Digital Age a couple of weeks ago about how to make social media outreach easy to understand.

 

I had a few ahas during the Telesummit:

  • We don’t have to grow huge numbers on Facebook and Twitter. What matters is the message that we are passionate to share, and communicating it in a meaningful ways.
  • We need to be authentic about crafting our message and be real about who we are. After all, our book, our writing, and our presence online needs to match up with who we really are, not some fake persona that we don’t live up to.
  • The best thing we can do is to write, write, write, first and only do the social media activities that we feel comfortable doing. If we hate what we are doing, that will slow us down in creating our platform.
  • Because writers tend to be more inwardly focused, we need to learn how to do outreach at our own pace. It will get easier over time. I have found this to be true.

 

I’m learning a lot from Dan through one of his online courses. I’ll be sure to tune you into my new insights as they come. In the meantime, I set a goal to write two hours a day. No, I don’t always get the full two hours in, but it’s something to aim for. That is how we get the writing done—one day at a time.

What did you write today? How many words did you get on the page? How do you plan to begin tomorrow? Some writers edit to begin their writing day, while others get out the pen and paper and write longhand. Others write morning pages or a poem. What is your best method?

 

Jane Friedman also writes great stuff about platform. Check out her blog. Find others who blog about the topics you want to learn more about and sign up for their blog posts. Bit by bit, you will learn from others about how to write, blog, and create your desired audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Many Memoir Publishing Choices–What Do I Do? | Free Roundtable with Jonna Ivin & Denise Roessle

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!

-Linda Joy

The Revision Process: Rewriting with “Know-How”

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.

* AnalyzeDoes 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!

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 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!

Memoir Writing Workshops and your Creative Journey

 

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.
Thomas Merton

 

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.

Praise:

… 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.

Kathy Pooler

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