In case you think you’re not up to the challenge of writing, here’s an excellent way to begin. You won’t believe where Laurie Gray started.
Three Simple Steps
by Laurie Gray
You’re working on your memoir, but most of your writing so far has been through journaling. Find opportunities to write and publish short articles that will help you hone your writing skills. Several years ago I started writing short biographical articles for my bimonthly church newsletter. I pick someone from the congregation whose face I know well through church, but that I knew very little about outside of church. I interview the person and write a 500-1000-word article that lets everyone in the congregation get to know this person better.
In addition to the writing practice, interviewing more than a dozen fellow congregants has strengthened my connections with all those I interview and with a growing readership as well. People now see me as a writer, and more opportunities present themselves to connect with both readers and fellow writers. We become friends on Facebook and the creative writing energies flow as I observe what others are thinking and doing and incorporate an expanding range of ideas into my own thoughts.
Writing about other people’s life experiences helps me to process my own, identifying themes, reframing issues, and developing perspective as a nonjudgmental observer and reporter of the beauty that is all around us and within each of us. There exists within each of us a multitude of magnificent stories, all of which can be told 100 different ways. Through writing about others, I practice writing about myself, because the more I learn about others, the more I learn about myself.
Teaching has to be the most rewarding of the professions as one enters the Third Act of life. Seeing the amazing development of former students and then reconnecting with them around shared values and interests thrills me. Former Goshen College student Laurie found me on Facebook.
Laurie’s an author herself. Check out her award-winning first novel about a boy and a homeless woman. It’s about mentoring, time, and timeless values. Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray
Laurie’s own short bio: Attorney, author, teacher and child advocate Laurie Gray is the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC. Her debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) received a Moon Beam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult fiction and was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. Learn more about Laurie’s writing at www.SocraticParenting.com.
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Thanks, Shirley! I hope your followers will share some of the ways that they have found to develop their memoir writing skills and connect with potential readers.
Thanks, Laurie. I hope so too. I forgot to ask for that, so thanks for this suggestion. You have great insight into how small writing projects that involve other people can reward the effort in many ways.
Other readers — any other “start small” projects? How do you practice your writing skills?
I just found this post on your blog, and so glad I did. This is excellent advice and it got me thinking. I’m a newspaper reporter for a weekly paper. I write mostly about government and the courts, but I also do features about people doing interesting things. I love to hear people’s stories. And I agree that everyone has stories. I love finding out what brought people to the place they are now in life. I never thought of it as practice, but I guess it is!
I find that telling people (usually my husband, who always listens) my stories helps my writing. Talking about the things I’m writing about in my memoir brings out more memories, which feeds the writing.
Reflection helps me too. I have found that the mindfulness meditation that I have started to practice helps me in everything, including my writing. I feel more centered, more able to articulate to myself what’s most important in my life. I think it is helping my determination to keep on writing. I’ve always been a writer of sorts, but I’ve never been consistent with it. Meditation helps with that.
And blogging has helped me tremendously. I draw on memories and journals and earlier writings that I did to write my posts. People’s comments and that whole learning experience have been a blessing to me. And blogging keeps me faithful to my writing, too. I post three times a week, even if I’m tired or think I have nothing to share.
Thanks for the great post!