7 Tips I Have Learned About Connecting with My Purpose for Writing My Memoir
By: Kathleen Pooler
“Say what you have to say, not what you ought to.” Henry David Thoreau
Memoir is a slice of life told as a story. It has a transformative power for both the writer and the reader. I want to invite my reader into my experience in a way that connects them with their own experiences.
In order to do that, I have to connect with my own purpose for writing my story.
Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone feels the need to write about it. Or maybe they don’t feel they have a story worth telling.
I think it starts with believing we have a story to tell.
Like many others, although I have felt for years I have a book inside me, I did not become clear on my intention for writing it until I found my story.
I had to write my way to my purpose… many years of journaling, four years of taking writing classes, writing vignettes, going to conferences and hours of pondering and shooing away my inner critic.
The story that begged to be told revealed itself to me over time and through many hours of doubts and detours.
I’d put it aside for weeks at a time, then feel the nudge to revisit it, each time digging a little deeper. The story was always with me.
Through two rounds of professional developmental edits and two rounds of beta readers, my story is being shaped and polished before sending it to a copy editor.
It’s kind of like cleaning the house in preparation for the cleaning lady.
Through it all, I can say, I have connected to my purpose for writing.
Once I became clear on why I wanted to write my story, I was able to develop a deep connection to it. Consequently it has guided me in my writing.
If I am clear, the reader will be clear. I can dig deeper and speak from deep within.
Connecting with my story, the only one I can tell, allows me to believe I have a story to tell.
Here are 7 tips I have learned about connecting to my purpose:
1. I have to find ways to get past my inner critic. You know, the one who says:
· What makes you think anyone will want to read your story?
· Your story isn’t unique.
· You can’t write that well anyway.
· Who cares?
I had to put my inner critic in her place. Her name is Gertrude. Here’s how I did it by writing out a dialogue with her
2. I need to show up and write on a schedule.
Sometimes just the act of writing words unlocks the creative juices:
· Free write- helps when I’m stuck. Writing words even if they don’t make sense.
· Journal- writing thoughts, feelings, and reactions helps me to clarify and focus.
3. I need to trust in the process.
Sometimes when I start to write, I have no idea how the story will unfold. I may start in the middle and if I let the writing flow, I eventually find the beginning and end.
After I show up, I need to get out the way of the story and let the words flow. I can go back and change later.
4. Connecting with my purpose helped me to identify the main themes of my story.
When I connected with the purpose for writing and found the heart of my story, I was able to identify the themes to shape my story around.
This made it easier to stay true to the themes, which became the foundation for the story structure.
5. Taking time to pause and think has helped me be clear on my purpose.
This has helped me to tap into memories and make connections about their meaning from my adult perspective. Sometimes my best ideas flow when I take time to walk in the garden or sit in church.
As writers know, we really are working when we’re staring out the window.
6. I need to keep my overall purpose in mind as I revise.
If I am clear on my main message and the audience I am targeting, I can approach suggestions from editors and beta readers with a sense of purpose, staying true to my story while remaining open to constructive feedback.
7. Connecting with my purpose for writing has been my guiding light and is helping me get to the finish line:
I am taking the time to write it right because I do believe that I have a story to tell and that I am the only one who can tell it.
How about you? Do you feel connecting with your purpose for writing has helped guide you?
About Kathleen Pooler: Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir and a sequel about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.
She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: http://krpooler.com and can be found on Twitter @kathypooler and on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads and Facebook: Kathleen Pooler
One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: “The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment” by Pat LaPointe, 2012.
Another story: “Choices and Chances” is published in the mini-anthology: “My Gutsy Story” by Sonia Marsh, 2012.