Updates

The Art of Slow Writing

DeSalvo_Louise

Date: March 5th, 2015

Time: 4 PM PST / 5  PM MST / 6 PM CST / 7 PM EST

Guest: Louise DeSalvo

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I’m so very pleased and excited to have as our Roundtable guest for March the renowned author and teacher Louise DeSalvo. Over ten years ago, I immersed myself gratefully into her book Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives. There I discovered so many interesting details about how writing had helped to change the lives of writers who were famous, but whose stories about the process of writing weren’t generally known. This book also referenced the then new research by Dr. James Pennebaker about writing as healing, which led to my first book Becoming Whole-Writing Your Healing Story. For years I had worked with writing as a healing art as a therapist, and was excited to hear that the work of healing through writing was being validated in so many ways.

During this Roundtable discussion, Louise DeSalvo will discuss the stages of the writing process and how a writer can best work with—not against—the process. She will describe appropriate behaviors for each stage of the process and she will describe how learning about how “real” writers write can help us begin and complete our work. She will discuss those moments in a writing life—the dreaded middle of the process when nothing seems to be working—that often stop a writer’s work and she’ll discuss how to deal with those difficult moments. Finally, she will discuss some useful tools—the writer’s process journal; the use of a “Next to Do” list; the use of a writing plan—to help writers begin and complete their work.

From our discussion with this amazing teacher and writer:

  • You will learn about the stages of the writing process.
  • You’ll find out what the appropriate behavior will be for each stage of the process.
  • You will discover how knowing about how “real” writers work will facilitate your own
    process.
  • And you will learn a series of techniques to facilitate your work.

In addition to these points we’ll talk about her own process of writing five memoirs, and because I was so inspired by her book on writing as healing, I’d like to talk about that book and that important topic–one that memoir writers encounter regularly.

Sign up today to get the call information. A recording of the call will be emailed to everyone that signs up.

www.writingalife.wordpress.com

Louise DeSalvo is the Jenny Hunter Endowed Scholar for Literature and Creative Writing at Hunter College where she teaches memoir to undergraduates. She has published five memoirs, among them, the award-winning Vertigo and two books about the writing process, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives and, most recently, The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity. She has been studying and writing about the writing process of famous writers for forty years and has recently completed Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War, which took her ten years.

Writing a Spiritual/Healing Memoir Workshop with Linda Joy Myers

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Date: January 22, 2015 to March 26, 2015

Time: 3 PM PST/6 PM EST

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott

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.

The workshop:

  1. Send that week’s story to your classmates through email.
  2. Workshop members read and write feedback through email—reflecting on what works; offering feedback about what could be different or clarified.
  3. 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.
  1. I guide the group, offer writing tips, and teach techniques that help you keep writing and learn how to grow as a writer.

This class is currently full. Fill out the form if you want to be notified of the next workshop.

 

Your Brain on Ink: Writing and Neurobiology

Kathleen-Adams

Date: January 23, 2015

Kathleen-AdamsTime: 11 AM PST  12 PM MST  1 PM CST  2 PM EST

Guest Speakers: Kay Adams and Deborah Ross

If you are a member, log-in to get the call information or listen to the recording. If you are not a member, join today to get full membership benefits.

We’re so pleased to start the new year with a member teleseminar that addresses some of the basic realities of how “story” lives inside us, and how your brain and your writing are connected. It’s our job as writers to learn how to create the magic of story by understanding how to create a story world where your readers can feel and sense it fully. That’s the intersection between writing and neurobiology. So join us for a fascinating conversation that will help you bring your writing to another level.

Did you know that you can enrich the transformative power of story simply by using your attention as a spotlight? Or that creativity does, in fact, favor a relaxed mind? Or that you can use writing to shift the brain’s Velcro bias for negativity? Join two leaders of the writing-as-healing movement to discuss how the neurobiology of expressive writing can unlock more of the powerful storyteller within you.

You’ll learn:
• How writing from the senses brings memory alive
• Why meaning-making through writing is healing
• How writing can help you build resilience
• The role of attention and intention in shaping new neural pathways

Deborah RossDeborah Ross LPC, CJT studied neuroscience at the Mindsight Institute with Dr. Dan Siegel and applied her findings to therapeutic writing. An avid journaler, she recognizes the healing power of expressive writing and believes that this practice can change the way our brains work so that we experience a deeper sense of well-being and great resilience. Deborah is a licensed psychotherapist and a certified journal therapist (Therapeutic Writing Institute). Her first book, Your Brain on Ink, is a workbook co-authored with Kay Adams and will be released Fall 2015.

Kathleen (Kay) Adams LPC is the founder/director of the Center for Journal Therapy and its professional training division, the on-line Therapeutic Writing Institute. She is the author/editor of ten books on therapeutic writing, including the best-selling Journal to the Self and Expressive Writing: Foundations of Practice. In an internet poll, Kay was listed (with Anais Nin and Anne Frank) as one of the three top influencers in personal writing.

If you are a member, log-in to get the call information or listen to the recording. If you are not a member, join today to get full membership benefits.

The Changing Landscape of Memoir

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Remains of 14th century castle in England

Many of you know that the National Association of Memoir Writers and Write your Memoir in Six Months appeared in the New York Times last week in an article about the value of memoir writing. In the Retirement section on Saturdays in the Times, the columnist offers articles of interest to retirees. This week her focus was about the importance of memoir writing for elders and their families as a way to share family stories, and a way to get people to contemplate the meaning of their lives and their legacy. Brooke Warner and I were so pleased that our student in the Write Your Memoir in Six Months workshop, Bob Finertie, was featured in the article, and Bob himself was found in a daze of pleasure and shock that he was featured and photographed.

Mr. Finertie, of Walnut Creek, Calif., said it “has been a healing journey that has helped me reach so many things in my past. My wife says I have never been happier.”

To come up with a draft, which is now 100 pages, Mr. Finertie enrolled in online courses with the writing coach Brooke Warner. She, along with Linda Joy Myers, a Berkeley, Calif., psychologist, teaches “Write Your Memoirs in Six Months.”

Mr. Finertie said the classes helped him focus on the purpose of his memoir and connected him to other aspiring memoirists for inspiration and feedback. (From the article)

Naturally, we were jazzed to be “discovered” in the Google search, but it wasn’t too long ago that memoir writers suffered at the slings and arrows that appeared in a New York Times article by Neal Genzlinger who degraded the importance of memoir, and suggested that we should shut up since we’re focused on “Me,” on only ourselves and our lives, and not contributing to any meaningful literature.

During that same era, various agents and publishers predicted that memoir writing was “dead,” and that people simply needed to forget about it as a valid genre. Though some agents and publishers still hold this view, it’s a less powerful position now since the publishing world has changed so much. Writers have more power to share their stories with the world without encountering as many gatekeepers and barriers to publication. It’s important that publishing be taken seriously however, with writers doing their best to find out the appropriate professional presentation for their book. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to hire a tough editor and professional book designers so you can be proud of your book when it comes out, so it matches in professionalism the best of the books presented in the marketplace.

We are celebrating here at the National Association of Memoir Writers that memoir writers have been elevated as valid and acceptable in those pages three years after the Genzlinger article. Too often memoirists have been relegated to the bottom of the heap because we use “I” too often, or because we are digging around in the rich earth of our psyches uncovering the treasures of new insights and memories that offer a new lens through which to look at our lives. Most of you know that I have been a therapist for many years, and to me, the rewards for such digging are invaluable. Through writing our stories, we learn about ourselves in ways we never would have without writing and exploring the past this way. By applying the skills of craft to our memories and insights by creating believable characters, scenes, and a universal understanding or takeaway of the themes of our lives, we transform not only ourselves but potentially our readers—whether they are our family and friends, or new friends in the reading public.

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

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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.

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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.

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October 16, Free Roundtable with Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottchalk

october-roundtableTHE BIG DECISION: MEMOIR OR FICTION? 

Time: 4 PM PDT 5 PM MDT 6 PM CDT 7 PM EDT

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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

Next Free Roundtable

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Testimonials

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 

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful
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