I’ve been writing my memoir for over three years now, and, as I’ve heard others say after this amount of time, I’m getting pretty sick of it. I read what I’ve written over and over, making corrections, adding new thoughts and stories and memories, rearranging things so they make more sense, and at night, I dream about the past, sometimes remembering something new for another story. But now I’ve reached a stumbling point: Writer’s block to be specific, and that little voice in my head is asking, why am I knocking myself out to do this? What is the point anyway?
So, I thought it would give me some newfound incentive if I could determine why writing about my past is important. Here’s what I found from my research:
- Out of six billion people on earth, each person’s life story is unique and important to someone. How many times have you thought to yourself, if only I had asked so and so about that? Sad to say, this is a normal occurrence at a funeral or later. Don’t let it be your funeral. A memoir is a chance to set the record straight as you remember it.
- Writing memoir is a challenging mental activity. Who out there writing one wouldn’t agree with this? There are a myriad of help and writing prompts to be found on the internet. Answering intimate questions about one’s past and writing them down may lead to some clarity and can give today’s life new meaning.
- Memoir lets you relive the most profound moments of your life, put the reader in your shoes, and gift yourself immortality. Many authors have ended up feeling their memoir was their most important writing and that it became their legacy, regardless of how many other books they had written.
- Your life has been enriched by the achievements and heritage of your ancestors. A memoir gives you the opportunity to pass this on. In written form, your life is documented, allowing others, perhaps generations later, to know you. That’s pretty empowering.
All these things are good reasons, but in the end my memoir is my baby, and if I don’t love the process of writing about my past, not much is going to get done, and what does get written is not going to be very good or interesting to anyone else. Memoir is like writing about anything. There has to be a passion for it. So how do I get back the passion for writing my memoir?
One thing I know for certain: Writing does clarify things, and sharing my writing gives me a sense of self-worth. I share my stories in my blog and through a life history group of which I’m a member, and most importantly, through my writing critique group right here in WAG. Passion comes from many things, but encouragement is a biggie with me, and I get that from my pod buddies. There’s something magical about sharing your life with others, and when members of my group ask questions or say yeah, I remember doing that, or they want to hear more of a particular story, something deep in my soul just dances. And then I am passionate to write more.
In a way, I started writing my life story before I knew anything about a critique group. I’ve always kept a journal, diary if you prefer. I loved writing, and I loved rereading what I had written. It brought me closer to myself somehow, reading the journey of my life. I always caught myself saying I had forgotten about that as I read through.
Memoir is my favorite genre to read. I can’t get enough of hearing about other people’s lives. The book lying on my nightstand today is Harry Crews’ A Childhood, and as I read, I’m right there with him in that little Georgia town growing up in the Depression. I’m nosy but shy about asking personal questions. In memoir, my questions are answered before I think of them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that many things stir my passion for writing my own memoir and when I get a “block,” I have to remember to do those things to get me going again. Just writing this post is making me anxious to pull up “mybook.doc,” read a little and write a little while the passion is flaming. I hope some of these suggestions will help you through a block because your story is important to you, to others, and to me. Get that book on Amazon and I’ll list it here before you can say “finished.”