Cry, Pray, Write
So you want to know how to write a memoir. Well here’s what I know.
Step one: Ask yourself if you’re nuts. If yes, proceed to step two.
Step two: Attend a writing conference for inspiration.
Step three: Go home and cry because you don’t want to reveal the level of detail one conference speaker said you would have to.
Step four: Pray and ask God for direction.
Step five: Write and self-publish an autobiographical poetry book that vaguely addresses the story you want to write.
Step six: Tell yourself the poetry book is a sufficient memoir because, after all, we don’t know what Paul’s thorn was either.
Step seven: Have several people ask when you’re going to write your story.
Step eight: Write an outline of your story in your Color Notes app on your phone, then write two book proposals, one for your memoir and one for a devotional.
Step nine: Attend another writers conference and pitch your book ideas to editors and agents.
Step ten: Get sidetracked for three months working on a “marketable” idea from the agent, ignoring advice from a spiritual writing mentor.
Step eleven: Get further sidetracked writing and self-publishing a holiday poetry book.
Step twelve: Lie awake at night running scenes in your head of what you need to write, but not get up to actually write them down because you don’t want to disturb the sleeping dog.
Step thirteen: Tell your friends and family you’ve decided to write your memoir. (This step may be optional, but is helpful if you’re the kind of person who once they’ve said they are doing something has to do it.)
Step fourteen: Decide you need to learn more about the craft of memoir writing.
Step fifteen: Read memoir by spiritual mentor from writing conference.
Step sixteen: Read another memoir, and a book about how to write memoir, and another memoir, and another book about how to write memoir, then start reading a third memoir but decide it’s not believable and make a mental note not to write your memoir that way.
Step seventeen: Take advice from book on memoir writing and simply start writing one paragraph, one scene at a time.
Step eighteen: Get into text discussion with a friend who suggests yet another book on memoir writing you should read. Order said book on your Kindle, realize what you’ve ordered is actually a different book by that author, then order the paperback of the first book from Amazon.
Step nineteen: Write poems about writing memoir.
Step twenty: Stop worrying that your first draft is terrible (because as Anne Lamott says, they all are), and resolve to write, edit, rewrite, and persevere.
I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve gotten so you’ll have to come back next year for the remaining steps.
The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a “How To” poem. Since I am in the process of writing (or trying to write) my memoir, I thought I’d share a little step-by-step how-to on how to do it.
I love this. Must try one for my own wandering so. I started off with the memoir and told no one and still haven’t ! But have told everyone about my novel, started last July and almost finished, and of course the poems, thanks to Dverse ! Good luck and keep persevering, bit by bit it should happen. I fear the redrafting and must now stop blogging!
Actually, I think you just did! 😉 I’m going to keep blogging through the process, I hope. Though probably not on a daily basis. Only time will tell.
Oh man! If I had known about step 16, I don’t know that you would have had step 18. I knew you were reading up on the genre, but I didn’t have a true idea of your process thus far until this post! Yikes!
Step 12 made me laugh.
Girl, sit down and write the thing. You got everything you need already–story and heart and skill. Go. <3
<3 <3 It's all part of the process. And don't think you're getting out of our Kyra's cupcake bet that easily.
Brilliantly done! I think I can pretty much associate with the majority of this. Although I don’t think my steps would ever end! x
Well, I’m not done yet. I’m sure there will be more steps forward and a few back before the memoir is done. And then I have another one hiding in the back of my mind. 😉
I love steps 1 and 12, especially. And loves me some Anne Lamott. 🙂
I’m just now working my way through “bird by bird” and have gotten some great advice. Now I just need to balance the reading with the writing. 😉
I wrote my memoir while my mom was still living and hoped she’d never read it. Yet, I made up my mind if it pleased the Lord, I’d write it anyway. Isn’t that what our walks should be about? If you want, I will send you a PDF copy of my memoir.
That would be awesome! I’d love to read it.
My email is: email@example.com
Send me your email and I will send it to you. Oh yes! My life has lots of stinky episodes, too.