How far have you gotten in your memoir–you’ve just begun but are not sure how to proceed? Are you stuck in the Muddy Middle? You know what you want to write about, but are tangled up about your theme and structure? As the author of two memoirs–my new memoir Song of the Plains–A Memoir of Family, Secrets, and Silence will be released in June, 2017–and three how-to-write- memoir books, I know what it takes to sort out memories, story, and craft.
When working on a memoir, doubts and important concerns that all memoir writers must deal with arise.
- What will the family say about me writing a memoir?
- There are so many memories–how much do I include?
- What is the structure of my memoir?
- Will anyone else be interested in my story?
- Are there any rules and guidelines for memoir?
These questions need answers for you to proceed in writing your memoir and I can help! To stay focused and learn new skills, you need:
- Help in deciding the focus and sub-genre of your memoir–is it travel, survival, healing, or a spiritual memoir?
- To get clear on what your story is about—the themes and topics that comprise the arc of your story.
- Feedback to develop your skills—story structure, scenes, dialogue, character development, tone, and voice.
- Help with navigating the writing world, from writing and editing to publishing and marketing.
Most of my coaching clients are memoirists, but I also work with non-fiction and self-help. I have published both memoir and nonfiction how-to books, and I know what it takes to go from idea to published book.
Whether you have the seed of your story or are ready for feedback on your work, I can help you develop your writing and learn the skills that can help you get your book published.
What is Coaching for Writers?
The best way to learn to write is through apprenticeship. A mentor/coach guides you learn new skills, and offers accountability and professional level feedback. When we agree to get started, we set up one-hour sessions that include a 1/2 hour of my reading time and schedule 1/2 hour phone calls where we discuss your work, your challenges, and your manuscript–both the reading and the call are a “session.” Chapter by chapter, you will get your book done as you weave your themes, develop your craft skills, and have accountability to keep submitting your work. We all produce more when we know someone is waiting for our work, and when we have made a commitment to our mentor to produce a chapter!
As your writing coach, I will:
- Teach the craft elements you need to know to write a good story
- Offer deadlines and accountability to get your work done
- Walk you through the three stages of memoir writing: Kickstarting Your Memoir, The Muddy Middle, and Birthing Your Book Into the World (learn more about that here!)
- Give you detailed feedback on each piece–what is working well and what you need to develop further
- Assist you with the editing and publishing process
- Send you articles, links, and resources to help you develop your skills
How Does Coaching Work?
A coaching session is divided between a half-hour of reading/editing and a half-hour of one-on-one discussion of your work by phone. Sometimes people want me to read more than 1/2 hour worth of material, so the session time will be balanced accordingly.
Before each session, you write your chapter or make your notes on your outline or theme development and email that week’s submission along with the questions about your work that you want me to focus on–whether it’s character development, voice, narration, or dialogue, for instance. I focus on your questions and offer other suggestions that will help you make important craft decisions as you continue writing.
During our phone appointment, we discuss things like story structure, your audience, and what readers will learn from your story. Sometimes memoirists need emotional support to get through writing about painful times. Drawing upon my thirty years of experience as a therapist, I can help you write through these challenges as they arise so you can make forward progress.
Where Are You in Your Writing Life?
- Do you have ideas, story seeds, and memories that have meaning for you—but you aren’t sure what to do with them?
- Do you wonder whether you should write your family stories in memoir or fiction?
- Are you in the middle of a writing project, but can’t seem to finish it?
- Have you always wanted to write a book, but aren’t sure how?
Wherever you are in your writing journey, I can help you figure out how to tell your story and connect with your readers. Your story is unique, and I know how much courage and skill development it takes to get it done. I look forward to learning more about you and your story and helping you meet your goals.
Contact me today for your complimentary strategy session where we discuss your goals for your memoir and how I can help you.
If you have written your book and need professional eyes on the final product, I can help you. As a memoir writer and coach for over twenty years, and as a judge of contests and anthology submissions, I know how to evaluate a memoir to see if it is ready for a copy edit, or to see if more work is needed to help create the best book you can write. Most people want to know if their work is ready for final editing, if they are understood in the book, or if the book needs a different structure or other craft help.
If you want an evaluation, please contact me to talk about your project and be prepared to tell me: word length of your book; your themes and working title; your desired audience for your memoir; and your questions about the draft you want evaluated. We can discuss your work and the fee at that time.
Don’t Call Me Mother–A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness is about three generations of mothers who abandoned their daughters and how I broke the pattern.
Breaking Ground on Your Memoir–Craft, Inspiration, and Motivation–with my co-author Brooke Warner
Magic of Memoir–Inspiration for the Writing Journey--to be released in November, 2016 with interviews by Mary Karr, Liz Gilbert, Dani Shapiro, and submissions by authors who tell us in their own words how memoir is magic for them.
Memoir Coaching Packages
$595.00 (Premier Coaching Package)
In these six sessions, we work on the craft of writing a memoir, and talk about the process–emotionally and mentally–that is part of writing a long work. A session is 1/2 hour reading and commenting on your work using the edit program in Word, and the 1/2 hour phone consultation. I offer homework assignments and deadlines. This kind of structure keeps you on track and gives you accountability. With accountability, you will get your writing done!
During the coaching process, we examine questions like these:
- How do I get started?
- Should I make an outline, or just start writing my memoir?
- Will the book make sense to the outside reader?
- Is it ready for an agent or publisher to read?
- Was I too judgmental about characters in my memoir?
- What about plot?
- Will the reader think I’m feeling sorry for myself when I write about the dark stories?
- Can I change names in memoir and not call it fiction?
- What about changing places, descriptions, and identifying information—is it still a memoir?
- Can I write well enough to get published?
Private coaching/mentoring at $125/hour
$125.00 (1 hour)
If you’d like to get acquainted with me about how we might work together on your book, a single session can help you figure out if we are a fit. Or you may know what kind of help you need, and want to get some focused feedback. I could review some pages, discover your story arc, and help you plan the next stages of your book. You might have a specific problem you’re having with your writing, and need an experienced writer’s point of view. Sometimes memoir writers get stuck in the inner critic voices, and need to talk it through to get to the next stage. You can let me know how we can best use the hour.
Private coaching/mentoring at $300 for 3 sessions
$300.00 (3 sessions)
A memoir is a story of transformation and change–but as a writer, we realize that we are exposing a great deal about our private selves. Will that silence you? It doesn’t have to!
In three sessions, we can meet on the phone for an in-depth consultation about your work–the craft and the psychological journey of writing a memoir. Let me know what kind of skills and support you need to develop your project, and create success for yourself as a writer and author. You set the agenda for the call–it helps to make a list your questions and the issues where you need the most help. You might want someone to read through a first draft, look at your outline, or have me read a few pages to assess your themes, structure, and voice. Contact me to set up a time to talk!