Everyone has a story to tell, which could become a powerful memoir. We have at our fingertips so many ways to make this easy. Yet, like the Bayeux Tapestry, it can take many years to create. Be grateful you don’t have to embroider your story.
Like the Bayeux Tapestry, within our lives lie moments of joy, triumph, heartbreak, transformation and growth. These stories are not just meant to be lived and forgotten; they deserve to be shared, celebrated, and preserved. Your life story is a unique and powerful narrative waiting to be unleashed and immortalised in the pages of a memoir.
But it’s scary. This intimate journey into the past. Where you are shining a light into the caverns of memory, illuminating forgotten pathways and chipping away at the walls of self-doubt and procrastination. It's a venture that requires patience, perseverance, and a relentless commitment to your writing.
Which all sounds well and good, but first, you have to do some getting over yourself. So, remove those rose-tinted glasses and prepare to present an authentic, vulnerable, packed to the gills with the truth of who you are and the oh-so-human version of yourself. Uncomfortable. But that's the beauty of memoirs. They thrive on you getting over yourself and telling the truth, mindful of morals and ethics even when it stings.
Allied with that, I am going to suggest that you get comfortable with discomfort and get out of your comfort zone. Achieving any sort of goal generally requires taking some risks. This is especially true if the goal is something significant that will require a lot of effort and dedication. In order to achieve such a goal, you'll need to be brave and step outside of your comfort zone. Writing your memoir means diving headfirst into a sea of emotions, some of which may be uncomfortable. But remember, it's these raw emotions that will give your memoir its heart and soul.
Feed your creative spirit, not by eating cake, although I do like cake and creativity, but by reading widely, listening to music to evoke memories and having interesting conversations to illuminate other perspectives on your experiences. Also, reflect often, go for walks and simply be. Delight in the world around you, and let it inspire your writing.
Make friends with writer's block. Yes, you heard that right. If you think it exists, then it surely will. Writer's block isn't your enemy—it's a sign that your brain needs a break. So, instead of fighting it, accept it. Step away, rejuvenate, and come back refreshed. As the bestselling author hilary mantel advises, "If you get stuck, get away from your desk". For me, that is another dog walk or a cuppa with cake.
Along with the above, remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and your memoir won't be either. Break down your task into smaller, achievable goals. Chunk it all down. One page, one paragraph, or even one sentence at a time. Each piece of your past you pen down is a victory. Small progress is still progress. And please remember to celebrate each milestone.
Create a writing schedule. Time, the elusive creature that it is seems to slip through our fingers just when we need it the most. The antidote? Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Yep, make writing a habit. You’ll need to find a place and time that works for you. And then, you rinse and repeat your awesome process. How many times have we been told that research shows that habits, once established, consume less energy and make tasks easier? So, mark your calendar, set a reminder, and make a date with your memoir.
What next, I hear you ask in this list of essential things. Since you asked so nicely, the next is to embrace the mess. Grant yourself the freedom to write poorly, ramble, and create the messiest first draft the world has ever seen. Writing is sculpting with words, and every sculpture starts with a rough piece of stone. I am always amazed when I read back my first draft, yes, it is a mess, but honestly, it’s a fine mess and one which I can do something with after a period of reflection.
Stick with it. Sticking with memoir writing, despite the challenges, is a testament to the value of our stories and your courage. As Dani Shapiro aptly put it, "When you're speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice" (Shapiro, 2019). By committing to the memoir-writing process, you're embarking on a journey of self-discovery and self-expression that resonates with the shared human experience. I believe that our stories deserve to see the light of day, and our journey could inspire many others to stick with it and change their lives.
Embracing the challenge might seem glib, but writing a memoir isn't easy—it requires introspection, vulnerability, and the courage to confront and articulate your past. But as you dig deeper into your life's experiences, you'll discover layers of understanding, compassion, and acceptance for yourself and others. View each challenge as an opportunity for growth and understanding, not a deterrent.
And finally, for now, enjoy the ride. Have fun with your memoir, even in its murkiest moments.
Ready to explore further, then take Ignite Your Memoir.