Sunday, January 23, 2011

Help! I Wish I Had Journaled More!

"Help!  Why didn't I journal more? There are all these gaps!  I can't remember everything that happened! How can I write a memoir?"
I hear this from women time and time again.

This is the voice of panic.  This is the old schoolteacher from second grade rapping your knuckles for not paying better attention.

Relax.  You are not a reporter required to take notes.

You are a seeker of meaning.  You are about to embark on a journey.

While journals are excellent tools for reflection, they are not memoir.  Rather, memoir captures a meaningful time in your life.  And that may have nothing to do with the blow-by-blow account of  May 5, 1997 you jotted down in a journal, long ago stuffed away in a carton at the back of the closet.

My guess is that you know what it is you want  - NEED  - to write. You have known it for a long time.

Points to consider when writing or beginning to write memoir:
  • Select the event or series of events that seem most important to you. 
  • Try to recall names, dates and places where events occurred as best you can, but don't obsess on accuracy.
  • Let go of your "inner critic."  Tell it the way you feel. Tell it from the heart.
  • Take a little license with "the truth." Get creative! Make the scene come alive to bring home the point. 
  • If you don't know what the point is or why you are going there, stop, toss, discard.
  • Don't be afraid.  This is your story, not your mother's, your husband's or your children's. If they don't like it, let them write their own memoir.
  • Join a writing group.  Get feedback on your work.  If someone is too harsh or critical, don't use them again.  If someone sugarcoats you, thank them but look for someone both kind and discerning.
  • Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing . . . .and it doesn't have to mean journaling!

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