Monday, August 8, 2016

Strategies for the Writer . . . And a New Memoir

This week I wanted to blog about writing strategies, but also how important it is to have a writing project. I feel motivated as a writer when I have a project. I am happy to be working on new memoir tentatively titled A Woman Alone: Reflections.
Waking up in the morning to write has always been exciting and energizing, even more so now for me, living the life of the writer.

I have found a format/structure that feels right; based on May Sarton’s journaling. I am writing this book in journal format. Each entry represents "a day in the life of" . . . the seasons of one year; themes encompassing friendship, single parenting, aging, just to name a few.

Flashbacks will play prominently as do takeaways – those “pearls” we offer the reader of lessons learned. From those takeaways emerge themes that continue to crop up time and time again in the writing, which I am excited to know I will discover as the writing process unfolds.

I also like the idea of incorporating lists that a woman alone finds useful; how to cope with being single; keeping a house going, raising children, paying bills on time . . . making the most of those special quiet moments.

It will also include photographs; an invitation to the reader to write her own story through useful writing prompts, photographs or images.

One writing strategy that has effectively worked for me in the past is the willingness to take a risk, to be openly honest about my life. How you do that is, of course, up to you, but know that the reader expects and deserves honesty. The question is not what the reader thinks of you, or the main character, but what he or she thinks of your story, whether fiction or memoir.
Another strategy: making effective use of your voice as a writer. No two voices are alike and as I have often said, honor yours. As women we search for our voices and it feels especially relevant now; how little we know about women in strong leadership positions, especially the presidency where verbal assertiveness has always been associated as a masculine trait; nurturing as a feminine one not often valued.

Another writing strategy; know your audience. The Women’s Writing Circle has had a huge spike in readership this summer. Thank you! I wrote almost solely about memoir; about family relationships and using images as writing prompts when journaling or memoir writing. Memoir seems to be where the interest lies. 

I continue to read May Sarton’s memoir Journal of a Solitude and much of it resonates with me. Although, unlike her, I have a family – my sons live nearby and drop in often for visits – I identify with the solitude Sarton writes of . . . the work that must be done every day to write and create and to forge a life as a woman alone without the “safety net” of a routine, going to a job, taking care of children, a husband.

Sarton liked keeping fresh flowers and blooming bulbs around her home in all seasons because they brought life to the house. Yesterday, I bought a small tea rose bush and placed it in a white ceramic container on my kitchen table.

Much of this summer has also been spent reading Virginia Woolf’s life; pondering her unique genius. Woolf, of “a room of her own” fame, offers the writer wonderful lessons in understanding those immensely important relationships that influence the writer and her life stories. Be an avid reader.


Can you share writing strategies that help you move forward with a new project or an existing one; help mold your stories. poems, journals or novels?


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