We’re in the New York Times! | October Newsletter


October 15, 2014

11retiring-pic2-articleLargeWe’re in the New York Times!

Did you see the article mentioning the National Association of Memoir Writers in the New York Times this week? The article about memoir writing appears in the October 11 edition in the retirement section—but as many of you know, memoir writing is for everyone, not only retirees. The columnist, Elizabeth Olsen, contacted me a few weeks ago, curious to learn more about memoir writing and asked how many people are interested in it, and how writing a memoir helps them in their lives. She found us through Google, which is great news.


Though one of the themes of her article was about retirees writing their life stories, the article goes beyond that as it discusses the importance for people to capture their story—for their own satisfaction as well as a gift and resource for their family. My colleague Brooke Warner was also interviewed and offered some terrific tips!


Here they are—thank you, Brooke, for sharing these with us.Brooke-2014

Brooke, founder and president of Warner Coaching, offers five tips for writing a memoir.

FIND A WRITING PARTNER and notify him or her by email when you start the day’s writing and when you sign off for the day — no matter whether you get an answer.

JOT DOWN ALL YOUR EXCUSES for not writing or not writing as much as you want to.

PAY YOURSELF FOR SHOWING UP to your writing sessions, even small amounts that you can later set aside to treat yourself or use to pay your writing business, if you have one; write the payment off as a business expense.

KEEP A DAILY JOURNAL on your progress. Record the date and time that you begin, how long you will work and what you will focus on. When you are finished for the day, evaluate your progress by noting how you felt about what you accomplished and, more objectively, how many words you wrote. Then, write down your goals for tomorrow.

TURN OFF your Internet, email and phone.

It’s not every day that your name gets in the New York Times, so I’m grateful that people can learn more about NAMW and the power and possibilities for memoir writing.



October Events at the National Association of Memoir Writers

This month we have two presentations to help you in your writing life. As always, we have a free Roundtable every month, and this week we are going to explore the issue that memoir writers often struggle with: whether to present your life story in a non-fiction memoir, or to expand it as fiction. Sign up for this Roundtable discussion to receive the free audio download afterward as a resource for you to keep.


October 16, Free Roundtable with Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottchalk



At this free Roundtable Teleseminar, we’re going to address a subject that memoir writers struggle with: whether to write their story as a memoir—everything is true!—or as autobiographical fiction—I made it up!

Many memoir writers struggle with this decision, so we’re pleased to present Mary Gottschalk and Carol Bodensteiner, who have gone from a corporate life to writing and publishing memoirs and fiction. They will discuss their often-parallel paths from business writing to creative writing, including their perspective on the differences between memoir and fiction.


Topics will include:

• Memoir vs. Fiction — choosing your genre
• Memoir as a “training tool”
• Getting past the facts
• Factual accuracy vs. spiritual / emotional truth
• The value of a writing group/partner
• Building the writer’s toolkit

Sign up here.


October 24 NAMW Member Webinar

Betsy's PR Shot,_edited-1Date: October 24, 2014
Time: 11 am PDT 12 pm MDT 1 pm CDT 2 pm EDT
Expert: Betsy Graziani Fasbinder
Topic: Public Speaking for Writers and Other Introverts: Simple Mindshifts to Raise Your Confidence and Gather Devoted Fans

We’re so pleased to offer this special webinar to help you break out of your shyness and learn to present your new memoir to the world in a professional and confident manner.

The member webinar this month: Public Speaking for Writers and Other Introverts: Simple Mindshifts to Raise Your Confidence and Gather Devoted Fans with Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, an experienced author coach, writer, and prize winning author.

All members will receive the instructions for finding the webinar link and how to join the program. It’s a presentation only format—you will not be on the camera—and neither will we!


In this webinar, you will:

• Gather five mental shifts to instantly boost your confidence about public speaking
• Acquire simple tips that can help you connect with listeners
• Gain skills that can help you to be at your natural best in formal presentations, book launches, media interviews, and casual encounters.

To join this webinar learn more about becoming a member here.



News from our Write Your Memoir Now Retreat

IMG_1765I just got back from a few days in New York City after leading our Write Your Memoir Now retreat with my colleagues Judy Mandel and Jerry Waxler. The landscape by the ocean was amazing, with clear skies and calm seas, except for Saturday when a big rainstorm made us glad we were inside writing!

On Friday night, we greeted the twenty-three people who had signed up for the retreat, learned the themes of their memoir and what they wanted to learn that weekend. We’d spent the afternoon informally getting acquainted over snacks and drinks, so by evening, many had made new writing friends. In a memoir workshop, people get to know each other deeply and intimately because of the nature of what is revealed in their stories. We dig into our lives, our memories, and the stories of our families, revealing many things we would not otherwise share. As always, there were tears, laughter, and sighs of recognition as people wrote and read their stories.


retreat-vAs the weekend continued on Saturday and Sunday, the depth and the challenges of each person’s story was revealed. Judy, Jerry, and I alternated the craft of memoir writing with the always present issues of truth, family, and the inner critic, and addressed the challenges that memoir writing presents.

By Sunday afternoon, everyone was tired, and we knew that many layers of stories, hearts, and hopes had been revealed. As people said goodbye, it was clear that several of the group members had become best friends. In my years of teaching of memoir, I’ve seen retreats like this to be a hugely transformative process, one that gives back insights and wisdom. As the weekend ended, many of the writers talked about such a transformation.  NAMW is looking at how, where, and when to offer another retreat next year. Stay in touch!




Breaking Silence Teleconference


bysOne thing that was clear in our teaching at the retreat is that all memoir writers struggle with exposing and expressing their truth. They have been silenced for years, and are trying to heal the past as they write their stories. Learning this from yet another memoir group made me glad that we are offering our special Breaking Silence Teleconference in November. If you sign up now, you get the early bird rate and two special bonus gifts.

Hope to see you at the conference!

It’s time to find your voice and break your silence — and write the memoir you want to write! During this day long teleconference, we will be addressing the “secret” issue of shame for writers. We call the voice that creates writer’s block the ”Inner Critic,” but at the core of the Inner Critic is shame and doubt. Please join these amazing women who are willing to share their stories of shame, doubt, and how they have broken through and helped others find their voice. I’m so pleased to have with me at this conference Sue William Silverman, Amy Ferris, Amy Friedman and Brooke Warner.

The talented and courageous presenters of this conference have worked with layers of shame and writing truth in their writing, teaching, and publishing, and have helped many writers find their voices and get their unique and important stories of love, suffering, courage, and trauma out into the world.
Topics and speakers:
  • Confessional and (Finally) Proud of It by Sue William Silverman
  • Awakening to your greatness by Amy Ferris
  • Breaking Open: The Heart of Writing Memoir—Courage and Permission to Write Your Truth by Linda Joy Myers
  • Writing Your Memoir: After the Sorrow and Anger by Amy Friedman
  • Writing Shame and Trauma for Publication—How to Write in the Space between What Happened and What People Can Handle by Brooke Warner

Read more about the conference here.

Writing Your Memoir by Hand


pen & journalStudies about handwriting say that our handwriting reveals many things about us, reflecting attitudes that we may be unaware of. It charts our shifting moods and feelings. Have any of you noticed that your handwriting changes in different moods? Over the years I have observed variations in my writing, and have wondered about what it meant. My handwriting has curves when I’m feeling looser and more flexible, and when I need structure, the letters I form are more upright. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But here’s the question that so many memoir writers ask, and it’s a good one: should I write my memoir with a pen and paper or at the computer?

I believe that everyone needs to find their own best way to write, but I do encourage those who want to get into their emotions more fully to write by hand. I wrote my entire memoir by hand in spiral bound notebooks or on yellow lined paper—I love the practical approach so I don’t feel I’m “wasting” pretty paper and journals. I scrawled at will, I wrote experimentally, trying new things that the computer keyboard wouldn’t have allowed to emerge in the same way. When I wrote on the computer, the prose tended to be drier and with less emotion. I would return to the page to elicit subtlety and layers of feelings. I just could not access these deeper layers on the computer.

Writing a memoir is like picking your way across an ice-bound lake to the other side; it is a journey through the dark forests of soul and family, with side roads beckoning us that we didn’t know we would take. Writing a memoir is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage and a deep connection to who we are and where we came from. It requires that we listen to ourselves with infinite care, thrumming the strings of our hearts, listening to new tones. We need to find the best way to find those melodies.

When I first began writing memoir, I thought that because I knew what happened and to whom, that I was simply capturing what I already knew. But after a while, I came to understand that though I knew the story, how I wrote about it—the language, sentences, paragraphs, the flow—was all new to me. I had to give up even thinking I knew the plot because as I wrote, I discovered new directions and had to explore them. All through writing Don’t Call Me Mother, I was working on healing the wounds of the past three generations as they had been lived by the women whom I loved. As the words flowed from my pen, I came to realize they were in great pain and confusion, and they had done the best they could do.

It was through writing each scene, one by one, scrawled on the page in whatever handwriting the mood brought me that day, that I freed myself from the binds of past wounds. Seeing the beauty of my family as I had loved them written on the page along with writing freely about the pain and confusion I had felt allowed me to find the heart of myself and to find forgiveness for them.

I alternated between hand writing and computer writing, weaving the left and right side of my brain and integrating an ongoing creative process that I still use today. Try experimenting with your writing, in different forms, and writing in different locations and find out the results!

Suggestions to memoir writers:

  1. Write your story in a journal or on ordinary paper so your inner critic doesn’t have a chance to complain about wasting that pretty journal on such terrible stories.
  2. The more you write, the more your unconscious is invited to release its secrets—hidden stories, memories, and insights come out when you create the opportunity regularly.
  3. Select a place and time where you will write at least once a week, three times a week is better. The more you write, the more you will keep writing. Each story, each writing session seeds more ideas and helps you to keep thinking of your stories.
  4. If you have a timeline of your life, or a timeline of your memoir, it will be easier for you to focus in on a particular scene and put yourself in that place and time when you sit down with your notebook.
  5. Make lists of the stories you feel are the most important ones for your memoir, then write them one by one. Check them off when you are done, and go on to the next one.

Back to School/Labor day Sale–Celebrating New Beginnings

Here at NAMW, we think of Labor Day and Back to School as a chance for new beginnings. To us, the start of September is a time to pick up projects that might have languished over the summer. It’s a time to refocus and reset our goals. So we say, let’s KICKSTART our focus with a sale on NAMW annual membership!

To celebrate new beginnings, NAMW is offering $20 off the cost of an annual membership from today through Wednesday September 3rd!

NAMW new Memberships are now just $149 $129 Add to Cart
NAMW Renewals are $139 $119 Add to Cart

Become a member today!

Current and lapsed members are encouraged to take advantage of this sale!

If you’re still unsure about joining, here are just a few great reasons why it pays to be a NAMW member:
• FREE access to Live Monthly Teleseminars and FREE downloadable recordings of over 70 archived Teleseminars
• Free downloadable recordings of our past Telesummits, with valuable topics such as “From Story to Sold! Becoming a Successful Memoir Author”
• Special Member Discounts for Workshops, Online Classes, and Webinars
• Receive three FREE e-books on the memoir-writing craft by renowned authors
• PDF download of the NAMW e-Book: Memoir Writing as a Healing Journey by Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.
• Access to information on contests, grants, and publishers as well as exposure to cutting-edge news and information about the memoir-writing field
• Opportunities to share your successes and new publications with other memoir writers and ask questions on our NAMW Members-Only Facebook group

…And much, much more!

It’s simple! NAMW new Memberships are now just $149 $129 Add to Cart
NAMW Renewals are $139 $119 Add to Cart

We hope in the spirit of the new “school year,” you’ll decide to take your relationship with NAMW to the next level and join as a member.


Our September Member Teleseminar is already upgraded to a Webinar with Michele DeFilippo and Sonia Marsh–a dynamic way to learn. We Do Judge a Book by its Cover–Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design. When you become a member, you automatically receive the member Teleseminars for a full year for free.




retreat pic--water crop

New Beginnings Retreat Discount

Last chance discount for our Memoir Writing Retreat Write Your Memoir Now!

We have a wonderful group already registered, and there are a few openings left for this three day opportunity to be immersed in your memoir and learn from our three experts how you can write and publish your book.

Save $100. Just a few spots left.

To learn about the retreat and see the full schedule for the weekend click here.

Please email us at customersupport@namw.org if you have any questions.

Here’s to new beginnings!


We DO Judge a Book by Its Cover—Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design – See more at: http://www.namw.org/2014/08/we-do-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-secrets-you-dont-know-about-book-cover-design/#sthash.i2FleXlD.dpuf
We DO Judge a Book by Its Cover—Secrets You Don’t Know About Book Cover Design – See more at: http://www.namw.org/2014/08/we-do-judge-a-book-by-its-cover-secrets-you-dont-know-about-book-cover-design/#sthash.i2FleXlD.dpuf

The Joy of Journaling | August Newsletter

The Joy of Journaling

Linda Joy Myers
journalsThink about the delicious feeling of holding a brand new journal and a new pen to go with it as you sit down to write. As you hold it, you imagine what you are going to write, you feel the invitation of the paper and the pen. Some people are journaling online now too, which has a certain appeal to, a safe place complete with locked password. But for many of us, there is something seductive and wonderful about cracking up that new journal. Whatever your method, in your journal you’re inviting the words lead you to new places within yourself as you explore your thoughts, feelings, and your life story.  What you see in the photo is my journals from 40 years ago!

Most of the writers I work with come to memoir writing from having journaled for many years. I remember how some women in my workshops talk about the boxes of journals they’ve hidden in their closets. One woman says, “What will I do if my children find them. Should I shred them now?”
Another one answers, “I want to save my journals so I can draw upon them as I write my memoir.”
Yes, therein lies the dilemma that both journalers and memoir writers have in common: “How do I feel about other people reading my private thoughts and feelings?”

But there is an important difference—we write our journal in an atmosphere of privacy, not for other people to read. In a journal, we write freely, exploring our psyches, digging deep to try to understand ourselves more, seeking peace, transformation, resolution. Sometimes we need to rant, we need to make lists of what we love or hate, we need to write letters that we don’t send, we need to express anger, fear, joy, sorrow, ecstasy, hope. We write to find out what we think, inviting the flow of words to emerge from us in whatever way they wish.

To write a memoir, we need to invite that same kind of free writing at times, to get the juices flowing, but a memoir is written ultimately to be shared with readers. We need to shape our stories, thoughts, and narration so readers can see, hear and feel the world we create on the page. We draw upon fictional tools of description, scenes, character development and sensual details to bring the reader close to our experiences. As memoir writers, we need to learn these tools for creating that world and keep the reader in it. John Gardner calls it “the fictive dream” in his book The Art of Fiction—and the same idea applies to memoir, which reads like a novel—only everything is true!

I advise all my students of memoir writing to dig back into journal writing to keep the flow going, to explore their memories without being self-conscious of the structure and style. In the early stages, your memoir is being assembled, dreamed, quilted together and you need to allow that process to unfold.

This week at the National Association of Memoir Writers member teleseminar, we’re so pleased to speak with a journaling expert Dr. Jackie Swensen. She is going to talk about self-discovery through memoir writing, and bring her considerable skills as a therapist and avid journaler to all of us. Welcome Jackie!

August Member Teleseminar

“What Does Self-discovery Have to do With Memoir Writing?” Member Teleseminar with Jackie Swensen

Friday – August 22, 2014 11 AM PDT/2 PM EDT


Many memoir writers come to their stories from having journaled much of their lives, so we are pleased to offer an expert on journaling and healing to present this August member teleseminar, Jackie Swensen.

Memoir writing requires a host of narrative skills to transform a person’s memories into something that appeals to a wide audience. For example, a sharp eye for detail, a sensitivity to nuances and subtleties of expression, and the kind of empathy that can make even flawed characters sympathetic. Memoir writers also need tenacity to keep digging for truth, especially when faced with a tangled web of conflicting stories. To accomplish that feat requires a high level of self-knowledge.

Society doesn’t really encourage self-reflection and most Americans think of themselves as doers, people of action. So action often trumps reflection. But memoir writers must reflect on a subject purposefully to understand the mysteries of human behavior. In over 20 years as a psychoanalyst, I’ve found journaling to be an effective tool for reflection and self-discovery, and for gaining insights into others. Journaling has proven to be a valuable resource for many of my clients, and so I created Journal to Health™ in order to introduce it to a wider audience. Continue reading…


To learn more about member benefits at the National Association of Memoir Writers or to become a member so you can join the discussion, please click here.

Contest Announcement 

Serendipity Literary Agency and She Writes Press have just teamed up to host their first Memoir Discovery Competition. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a publishing deal with She Writes Press, which will include the full services of the She Writes Press Publishing Package (a $3900 value); the Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one consultation session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents.


Click here to learn more.

There are a Few Spaces left at our Retreat!


There is still time, Sign up now for your bonuses and to reserve your place in the first annual National Association of Memoir Writers Retreat—Write Your Memoir Now!

In an intimate setting on the coast of Connecticut during the fall season, join Linda Joy Myers, Judy Mandel, and Jerry Waxler for this special in-depth weekend on memoir writing.
Learn how to begin, create a structure, wrestle with truth and family, and find your themes, among other topics that will be covered that weekend.

Learn more here!


Become a Member Today!

Breaking Silence Conference

Date: November 14, 2014
Topic: "Healing Shame and Writing the Truth in Memoir"

It’s time to find your voice and break your silence — and write the memoir you want to write! During this day long teleconference, we will be addressing the “secret” issue of shame for writers. We call the voice that creates writer’s block the ”Inner Critic,” but at the core of the Inner Critic is shame and doubt. Please join these amazing women who are willing to share their stories of shame, doubt, and how they have broken through and helped others find their voice.
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Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.
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professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal