Kathleen Pooler was guest here last November and happily agreed to bring her memoir writing wisdom back again. Please welcome Kathleen to Choices. I'm sure you're like me and can't wait to read her memoir once it's launched.
I look forward to your reading Kathleen's six writing tips.
Six Tips for Honoring the Story Within: A Memoir Writer’s Challenge
By Kathleen Pooler
“Your sacred place is where you find yourself again and again.”
Writing a memoir is hard work.
I know because I have been writing mine for the past four years.
That’s not counting the vignettes I started writing about thirteen years ago and the journaling I’ve done since I was a preteen. But I didn’t get serious about my memoir writer’s journey until 2009 when I started memoir writing workshops and started attending regional and national writing conferences.
It’s very humbling to learn what you don’t know, and when I started out, I knew nothing about writing a memoir. I only knew I had a story inside me I wanted to write about it.
It’s a well-known fact in memoir writing circles that writing a memoir is a daunting task fraught with many challenges, not the least being:
* Excavating painful memories
* Standing in your truth
* Dealing with family members or close friends who may not agree with your perception of the truth.
All that on top of a market that says you have to be a celebrity to sell your story. Granted, some of this is changing with digital publishing but the fact still remains—getting your memoir into the hands of readers remains a challenge.
The odds of writing a memoir that sells can feel pretty overwhelming.
But readers love stories they can connect with and we all have a story to share.
How can we honor these stories?
Here are six tips I’ve learned to counteract these odds and honor the story within:
Tip #1: Connect with your purpose for writing.
Be clear about why you want to write your story. Do you want to leave a legacy for your grandchildren or are you determined to seek mainstream publication? Either way is fine. You just need to be clear on your purpose.
Connecting with your purpose for writing the story only you can tell, allows you to have a story to tell.
Tip #2: Put your inner critic in his/her place.
We all have that nagging voice inside that tells us we can’t write; no one will be interested in our story and who cares anyway? Find a way to silence that voice so you can get on with the work of writing. I wrote out this dialogue with my inner critic which helped me.
Tip #3: Find your authentic voice.
Keep writing until you find the story that is begging to be told and once you find it, believe in it. I found this to be the most challenging part. Once I started writing vignettes, the story unfolded and took on a life of its own. I found my voice through writing and rewriting.
Tip #4: Commit to excellence in every step of the process.
Study your craft and seek professional guidance along the way—writing mentors, editors, publishing experts (traditional and self-publishing), marketing experts. You can always do it yourself if you know what is expected in each phase of the process and are sure you can meet these expectations with excellence.
Tip #5: Develop a tough skin:
Be open to having your work critiqued honestly and constructively by readers and writers you respect. Rejection is part of the process. Figure out a way to get over it and get on with the work at hand. Here are two links about not giving up:
Tip #6: Share your stories openly and often.
Ask others –besides your family—to be beta readers for your work-in-progress. Joining Joe Bunting’s Story Cartel has been one of the wisest investments I’ve made. I recently sent my work-in-progress memoir to my second round of beta readers as a result of the encouragement received from Joe and other writers in The Story Cartel Course. I also have developed a whole new network of fellow writers and prospective readers. We help promote one another.
Do what it takes to take care of yourself so you can take care of your writing.
Honor the story within. Not only does it deserve to be told, it deserves to shine.
Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir and a sequel about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal, and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving, and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com and can be found on Twitter @kathypooler and on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads and Facebook: Kathleen Pooler
One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012. Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the mini-anthology: “My Gutsy Story” by Sonia Marsh, 2012.