Updated: Jul 12
Are you writing a memoir? Want to write a one? Like the idea of writing a memoir but have no idea which one to exploit?
I get it; I truly do.
I have written 100’s of 1000’s of words over the years. Some I have published, many I have shaped into books, and they languish like a dastardly rotter on my hard drive, and some are crashing into my brain, screaming write me. Or at least finish.
But there are only so many hours in a day, and it is deciding well which one SHOULD I write.
Which one should I write? Which memoir does my head want me to write? Which one does my heart want to write, and which is the right one for right now?
Writing A Memoir For Right Now
Whenever I talk about writing a memoir or book for right now, it means two things.
One: There will be a story that needs to be written from your heart, which will be healing and cathartic. You may publish this book later, but you need to write it right now. You feel compelled to put your fingers on the keyboard and get it out.
Two: Your right-now book is a book that aligns with your brand and business and is about something you may be known for and want to be known for. It holds a strong message, and you want to build a business and/or speaking career around it.
One is a book that may become a two; you’ll see why soon.
The Evolution Of Writing A Memoir
There is a school of thought that when it comes to writing a book, you do some research, find a gap and exploit it. So if there is a gap in the market for books on bats for children aged 11-15, write it regardless of your business or where you find yourself in life. This has (allegedly) proved useful for people selling this system of writing a book.
Then, of course, you may have a publisher who, through extensive research, spots a gap, and this becomes your next book because you have been identified as the subject matter subject.
However, I am talking about writing a book from your heart that will align with your brand, business, core message, values and mission. This book will excite and inspire your readers to know that if it is possible for you, it is possible for them.
I adore mission-led memoirs and love stories that show courage and resilience.
How Does A Memoir Evolve?
The best way to tell you this is to describe my journey. Or at least part of my journey.
I’m a long-term journaler, and writing has saved my life on more than one occasion.
Some years ago, I had a massive awakening, I’ve had a few, but this one changed the direction of my life completely. I left the UK and went to live in a run-down old house in Spain. As you do…
I was lost and hurt when I arrived in Spain, so I poured my wounds into my journal and went on, as you will have guessed, an adventure with Self-love. Later this became a book called Rude Awakenings – a journey to Self-love. At the same time, I created an e-book and course about, yep – self-love. I needed to do all of these things together because I was, in effect, teaching and coaching myself at the same time. I did the work and wrote the book as I created the course.
This works for me as a method of healing. There’s probably a term for it, like immersive healing, and if there isn’t, there is now.
When the proof book came, I was excited but less than motivated to edit and publish it, so I popped the book into the cupboard and waited for divine inspiration and timing. And it still hasn’t arrived…
I then sat back and thought, what on earth did I do that for – it has nothing to do with writing healing books or journaling. It didn’t feel like something I could hang my hat on and become another Gala Darling. So although I was massively passionate, I concluded thanks for the healing, but this isn’t my mission.
My mission is about inspiring others to write and to heal through writing. Start with a journal and then write your book – share your inspiring story and start an evolution.
What happened next was another big awakening – my spine fractured, and I spent the best part of 18 months in rehabilitation and healing. Again I found solace in my journal and ended up researching almost every system of the body to work out how to heal my bones naturally.
I was determined to walk unaided (it took 6 months) and even more determined that no overzealous doctor would pump me full of drugs.
So I studied and wrote Healing Osteoporosis Naturally. It was part memoir and part self-help. It was also a labour of self-love.
Once again, it helped me heal, so that’s good, right? There came a point when I stopped writing and editing as I needed a break. I set a publication date and took a breather.
Or so I thought.
In The Gaps Comes Opportunity
Once I had put healing osteoporosis naturally to one side, I started to look at my business and how I could simplify it and re-align everything again. Being ill scatters your energy and self-confidence no matter how bolshy you are with the doctors.
My bone density had risen hugely. I was happy dancing on the way home from the hospital. Jubilant that my way worked. And once the euphoria died down and I reflected on the osteoporosis groups, the conversations and what I had been through, I knew being an expert in this was not my calling.
I checked in with my heart to find out what to do next. When I looked at my existing books, they looked tired, so I added new covers and edited them. Except for Plan Your Non-Fiction Book and Writing To Heal, the first books I penned in 2012, nothing resonated with me; besides, these are all self-help and not memoirs.
Several other book projects followed, which were not right for me and left me burned out, battered and bruised. So I stopped and decided no more writing for me. That was it…
My gap has been just over a year, and in that year, stuff has happened. Really? I hear you ask.
I followed my dream of writing a novel and joined a year-long program. My book is Moving In, an amusing coming-of-age tale of a woman whose dead alcoholic father moves in and causes havoc. It’s in the planning stages.
But as life is never a straight line, alcoholism research brought up more ‘stuff’. My dad was an alcoholic, and surprise, surprise, I’d never reconciled the effect his behaviour had on my life. Oh goody, I thought more layers of this huge onion to come off. Damn, you onion!
As you know, I am a multi-project person – god, I hate myself sometimes for this strange brain that loves this way of working.
So, here we have it, a coming-of-age novel and memoir containing a deceased alcoholic father. The novel will be funny, but my life is not so. But this is super helpful as the process has been helping me and my mum heal.
As luck would have it, I have 100’s of thousands of words already written. Ok, not necessarily laid out in the right chunks, but there nonetheless as inspiration.
But what I hear you cry about your mission. That stays the same, but somehow finally, these two books are part of the whole me – the truly authentic, vulnerable and messy me. They are the parts of me I wanted to hide, and now there is nowhere to run.
The answer, but you knew that anyway, is that life evolves, and so does your story, and one day it all becomes clear.
Never Throw Your Words Away
I invite you to look at the journeys you have taken and the words you have written. These can be in your journal, a blog or a series of chapters that you thought might become a book.
Look at your stories lists and the bits of memories you have shared in posts on social media.
Do nothing with them other than acknowledge that you have content you could repurpose. Spend some time reflecting, fiddling with them and pondering what if I turned these into a mission-led or healing memoir.
Ask a few questions:
Am I doing what I love, that I am good at, what the world needs and for which I can be paid? Yes, this is a closed question.
What vision do I have for my brand and business, and would my memoir idea align with this?
What is my mission and core message?
What do I want to be known for?
In what way do I want to help others to transform and grow?
What is my story, and why is this a great story to share?
When you get some clarity around these, you can think about how a memoir fits this and why you would even write one. Take this mini-course. It will also help.
When You Know Why Then Start To Plan Your Memoir
You find your answers only through introspection and allowing what needs to come in the spaces. It takes a while to plan, write, edit and publish a memoir, so it does need to be the right book.
Perhaps like me, you need to write it to heal and let it sit on your hard drive waiting to be birthed, or maybe you know that you want to write and publish this year. Either way, it’s your right way and right book.
Never beat yourself up that you have written loads and can’t think where or how to use it. That will come. And if you need someone to brainstorm with, book in here.
Writing A Memoir Which Evolves Recap
1. You have an awakening, and life changes
2. You start to journal and explore how to heal
3. You write chapters for a book or your blog your journey
4. The writing is deeply cathartic, and you are pleased and motivated
5. Doubt or lack of motivation sets in, and you park your idea
6. Life changes direction, and you work on other things
7. It may keep changing, but there will come a point when you know this is it
8. Through serendipity, aka the gaps, you can see a way forward
9. It all makes sense (finally)
10. You go through the planning and outlining phase of your memoir
11. You undertake a knowledge audit and find what you can repurpose and what needs to be written from scratch
12. You may blog your book to test the waters
13. You write and publish your memoir
14. You develop a product road map and develop products and services around your memoir
So there we have it, the higeldy, piggedly path to writing your memoir.
I hope you feel inspired to go back and look at your stories, perhaps make a story list and ask the question – is it time for this memoir to be written? Come and brainstorm with me.