Do you ever wonder what it would be like to start writing your own memoir? Can you feel the longing to share some of your experiences while reading or listening to stories that capture your imagination? I am often asked, “How do I begin?”
Begin with that impulse, the seed of a story wanting to emerge. Start recording the sensory details of that life-changing event (or events). Begin writing descriptive pieces about ancestors or mentors who have guided you along the way. Memoir is not the strict chronology of a life. Rather it’s diving into the heart of experience, discovering more about what’s underneath the surface.
The writing process involves looking within, which can be a rather scary prospect for anyone going it alone. There is a certain vulnerability involved in sharing personal experience, so finding the right places to open up and get support can be important to carry on the writing journey. This is where joining a writing circle or a program dedicated to memoir writing can be a helpful next step. I firmly believe that writing is not a solitary act. Yes, putting words to paper is solitary. However, the sharing, the feedback, the revising process are all best done with supportive others. Not always easy to find, yet essential to create, seek out, or develop.
Favorite books and authors can become part of your supportive circle. Begin to notice details in your favorite stories to discover more about what you might want to share with others. Ask yourself questions about the style, the pacing, and the content of each story. I’m fascinated by women’s journeys, physical and otherwise. My latest favorite memoir is Educated, by Tara Westover. In this story, the author moves from an extremely isolated life situation, to recognizing and claiming her gifts and talents in the larger world. Her story has vulnerable sharing as old beliefs fall away, and worldviews shift. Some important relationships do not withstand the transformational process. As the old falls away, new mentors and allies step in to support her forward momentum. My favorite stories mirror the trajectory of our own lives; give us hope, a sense of direction and the benefit of the authors’ shared wisdom.
On a smaller scale, each one of us can do the same. We all have powerful stories within us.
Are you called to write? Do you have stories you’re longing to share? I offer support to emerging writers through online and local programs, one-on-one mentoring, as well as longer writing retreats. Find out more on my website: www.mariemaccagno.com , or go to www.mariemaccagno.com/contact schedule a time for a free discovery session.