Spring, with the fading of snow and cold, tips of new grew crocuses and daffodils, the bursting of blooms in the trees and in the garden, reminds me of the cycles of life, the way that nature parallels our own forays into creative energy as we write our stories. As writers, there’s an ebb and flow to how we create, from moments of silence without words, to the burst of energy and the unfolding of stories, ideas, and memories. We need to keep in mind these waves of energy and creativity, and learn how to tap into them with awareness and focus.
Much of the work I do with memoir writers is to help them tune into their own voice and story and learn how to read the signs of how a story might develop, from the budding of themes, to the development of deeply rooted chapters, plot lines, and the arc of the book. I love tapping into the creative process with people—it’s such a pleasure to be connected on a deep level to the rhythms of the planet and its own deep wisdom. Our creativity is connected to that of all living things—we can learn from the birds, the cycles of life, the way spring unfolds. We learn that we need to trust the process, that it will unfold in its own time, and that we are part of it. Even when the inner critic starts assailing us with voices of doubt and uncertainty, we can know that it’s part of the process too. Our work includes not getting stuck in our beliefs of limitation, and to trust that even in moments of feeling stuck and not writing, that there will be a way out, a new arising of our creative energy.
One of the solutions to being stuck is to write—something—the beginning of a chapter, a list of scenes, a freewrite of memories. The idea is to keep writing, to even write nonsense as we create the famous “shitty first draft” that Anne Lamott talks about in her book Bird by Bird. This means that we don’t stop and critic and edit our work, we just throw up on the page, dump out what’s in our brain, and move on with the writing until we have completed a first draft.
I love the way that Brenda Ueland in her book If You Want to Write encourages people to write, to trust, to blow past the voices of doubt:
“Everyone is talented, original, and has something to say.” She says that if we are human, we are talented and have something to express. We are original, if we tell the truth, and speak from our true selves.
The best antidote to being stuck is to read those two books, write in your journal, and write your morning pages as suggested by Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way. On the site “750 words” you can request an invitation to write 750 words, equivalent to the three pages in Artist’s Way, at any time you designate. It will open to a private page where you can spill whatever is on your mind, a place where you can doodle, dream, and create the first sentences of your next chapter. I have enjoyed the site as a way to get some writing done, and recommend it as one way to out of a writing rut, and return to the invitation to be creative and write.
- What is your creative process?
- Do you have a support team?
- Do you have a writing buddy?
- How do you get unstuck?
You can join us on the open National Association of Memoir Writers Facebook page and talk about what you’re writing about, where you’re stuck, or what books you are reading. We all need a community of support as we tune into our stories. Every month you can join our free Roundtable discussions and get the audio download if you sign up, and we have many free articles and resources on site. Members have access to over 100 audios and more articles about memoir writing, free e-Books, and other benefits.
Workshops and Events
New Spring Workshop Writing a Healing Memoir/Spiritual Autobiography
9 weeks starting April 4, 2013
I’m offering a new workshop Writing a Healing Memoir/Spiritual Autobiography. We meet on the phone for an hour a week, and share our writing through email for feedback each week. This is a small group that invites you to share your raw writing, and work toward your first draft, or it might be a group where you smooth your work into a more developed draft, supported by the feedback of the group and me, your workshop leader.
In this workshop, we silence the noise of everyday life and dig into memories, tune into writing our stories, and learn the skills needed to write a satisfying memoir—to get all the way to “The End.”
It’s important to write freely without worrying about your inner critic or being published just yet—though that may be your ultimate goal. In order to get your memoir done, you need to feed your creative spirit, and have accountability to help get your stories on the page in a first draft.
- Send that week’s story to your classmates through email.
- Workshop members read and write feedback through email—reflecting on what works; offering feedback about what could be different or clarified.
- At class time, we gather by phone to talk about the stories—discussing what comes up as you write, your inner critic, doubts and dreams about your stories, and questions about structure. Find out in person on the call what you want to know from the group that will help you continue and develop your work.
- I guide the group, offer writing tips, and teach techniques that help you keep writing and learn how to grow as a writer.
Learn more here.
Bay Area Writing Workshop with Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
The National Association of Memoir Writers is co-sponsoring a workshop with Cheryl Strayed June 1, 2013 in Petaluma, CA. Click the link to sign up for the great opportunity to work with Cheryl. Learn from the New York Times bestseller about how to write a successful memoir! Her memoir is a classic, and her workshops are always sold out. We’re happy to be one of the sponsors for her workshop. Come and meet us, learn from Cheryl, and enjoy an amazing day focused on memoir writing.
Read more about Cheryl here: http://www.cherylstrayed.com
Blog post about using Wild to help you write your memoir at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com
Free Roundtable Discussion April 11, 2013
4 PM PDT 5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT
You’re feeling good because you finally wrote and published your first memoir. Perhaps you feel complete and think you’re finished writing about your life. Many of us think that we are complete, but life goes on, and the book you wrote takes on a life of its own—thanks to your readers and audience. You find yourself thinking about another book.
Write two books on my life? Will anyone be interested? It’s easy to stop ourselves with these worries.
Susan Weidener has done just that, as have many famous authors like Mary Karr and Frank McCourt. Most of us have more than one story to tell. In this Roundtable discussion, Linda Joy and Susan are going to talk about writing a sequel to your first memoir. Linda Joy added an Afterword to her first edition, while Susan wrote a sequel to her first memoir. Mary Karr wrote three memoirs. You’re in good company here!
Sign up here.
NAMW Member Teleseminar April 26
As I work with memoir writers, I am privileged to see two sides of them as writers—the part that is eager to write, loves the story, and can’t wait to get their unique message out to the world. Then there’s the other part—the one who does NOT want to be edited, feels violated by an editor taking a look at the” gold” there on the pages, and who would rather hike 10 miles in the snow than submit anything to an editor.
The second part of you really has to shift into a new mode—if you want to become a professional writer. Editing is about creating something beautiful and easy to read, and let’s face it—our first efforts, even our 10th or 20th, aren’t likely to give the reader that experience.
In this member teleseminar with an experienced editor, David Colin Carr, we will discuss how you can more about editing—what it is and isn’t, and learn how to become a good editor for yourself.
- What do editors do, anyway?
- Tips for self-editing and becoming your own editor.
- What support can you find for free to help you create your best manuscript?
- How do you work with the demons that writers face?
- What to expect from the relationship between you and your editor.
- Tips for self-editing and preparing the manuscript for an editor
Learn more here.
Free Memoir Telesummit–Memoir in the New Millennium
May 3, 2013
10 AM-4 PM
An All Day Teleconference with Experts in Memoir, Marketing, and Publishing
Memoirs are more popular today than ever—an evolving a grass roots movement where ordinary people, not just the rich and infamous, write and publish their stories. Memoirs are more popular now than fiction. Why? There seems to be a revolution in the personal story world, where thousands of people connect to the worlds of other people, and witness the lives of others. Concurrent with the publishing revolution still in progress, for the first time in history, anyone can write and publish their personal history, memoir, or spiritual autobiography. Of course, it’s important to know how to best present your work as a professional writer, to gain the skills to know what is expected in the book world, how to write and edit your work, and to be familiar with other books in your genre.
We are pleased to present our 10th Memoir Telesummit—a free teleconference with experts in the areas of writing, publishing, blogging, and platform building. Join us for a great day of learning, exploring, and sharing our passion about the ways that memoir writing and reading memoir has united people, and changed how literature and publishing are viewed.
The Memoir Revolution
10:00 AM PDT 11:00 AM MDT 12 PM CDT 1 PM EDT
A Grass Roots Movement: Memoir over the Last Two Decades
11:15 PDT 12:15 MDT 1:15 CDT 2:15 EDT
Own Your Niche on the Internet and Beyond: Simple Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books
12:30 PDT 1:30 MDT 2:30 CDT 3:30 EDT
Publishing Strategies for Self-Publishers
1:45 PDT 2:45 MDT 3:45 CDT 4:45 EDT
Walls Come Tumbling Down: Impact of Change on Publishing, Marketing, and Writing
3 PM PDT 4 P MDT 5 PM CDT 6 PM CDT
Sign up for our Spring Telesummit here and receive your downloadable audio of the all day event.
Call for Personal Stories of Survival, Inspired by Gloria Gaynor’s Song “I Will Survive”
Have you survived an illness, personal tragedy, abusive relationship, financial ruin, or other life experience that brought you to your knees? Did the song “I Will Survive,” by Grammy Award-winning songstress Gloria Gaynor, inspire you to rise, survive, and move forward? If so, we’d love to share your story in a new book of personal narrative essays that tell the story of how you survived the experience and how the song influenced your life (essential). We’re looking for real-life stories that read like fiction—similar to the stories in the Cup of Comfort book series, compiled and edited by Colleen Sell. The book will include 50 stories of 1,000-1,500 words each. For each essay selected for publication in the book, the author will receive $75, a complimentary copy of the book signed by Gloria Gaynor, and a signed photo of Ms. Gaynor. Submit by April 30, 2013, to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Poets and Writers—in the back of this online magazine, you can find literary magazines searching for new work to publish. http://www.pw.org
WriterAdvice seeks flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction running 750 words or less. Enlighten, dazzle, and delight us. Finalists receive responses from all judges.
DEADLINE: Submit to the 8th WriterAdvice Flash Prose Contest by April 18, 2013. http://www.writeradvice.com
Workshop and Book Events with Linda Joy Myers
Day of the Book
John F. Kennedy University
April 20, 2013
10:20 AM – 4:00 PM
Pleasant Hill – Main Campus
100 Ellinwood Way
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523-4817
What’s Your Story? The Heart and Craft of Memoir Writing—Linda Joy Myers
The Three Stages of Memoir Writing
Linda Joy Myers
Menlo Park, CA
Saturday, May 11th, 1-4pm
Writing a memoir is a journey, from the snapshots of memory to a story that offers the reader powerful themes and messages that are entertaining and life changing. And what a journey it is, starting with your passion to write your story, making your way through the “Muddy Middle,” and finally getting to “The End.”
Memoir writers need answers to these kinds of questions:
- Where do I begin?
- What about my family?
- What is my truth and dare I write it?
- How do I structure my memoir?
Learn more here.
SheWrites Press Launch Celebration and Panel Discussion
Women on the Publishing Frontier
Bancroft Hotel Berkeley, CA
Join us for a panel featuring ten She Writes Press authors as they discuss their new books and their paths to publishing. Moderated by She Writes Publisher, Brooke Warner, “Women on the Publishing Frontier” will be a lively conversation about the new era of publishing with ten indie authors of memoir and fiction.
If you’re interested in the changes happening in publishing, this evening is a must. And if you’re a female writer interested in the ways women are supporting one another to fulfill their publishing aspirations, then these ten authors will inspire.
Linda Joy and 9 other authors and the publishers at SheWrites Press will talk about the brave new world of publishing and the contributions they are all making.
Book Release Celebration
May 19, 2013 4 PM
Women Writing Their Lives–A Celebration and Memoir Discussion with Three Memoir Writers
Three memoir writers Linda Joy Myers, Don’t Call Me Mother, Judy Mandel, Replacement Child, and Judith Newton, Tasting Home will talk about their inspiration and process of writing their memoirs. Truth and secrets, the arc of writing a long work, and the transformational journey of writing a memoir will be discussed. Please come and bring your friends to this inspirational memoir writing event and book reading.
In the News
How My Life Came Full Circle
Linda Joy Myers is a blogger on the Huffington Post 50, and her post “How My Life Came Full Circle” has just been published with a slide show of family pictures. The article is about story that her memoir Don’t Call me Mother tells in book length form. Click this link to read the post.
Read more about the book here.