“Say what you have to say, not what you ought.”
– Henry David Thoreau
How do you get to the point of writing from deep-in-your-core, from your heart, to tell the story only
you can tell?
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.
I’d like to share some tips I have learned in the three years I have been working on my memoir about the
power of hope through faith, tips about climbing out of the abyss of divorce, spousal abuse, alcoholism
in a spouse and son, cancer, and heart failure to live the life of joy and gratitude I am living today.
Tip #1: Write with Intention
I had to find my own purpose for telling my story. When I looked around to see the joyful life I was
living, I realized that I wanted to share how the power of hope through faith has helped me to overcome
many obstacles. Why? Because maybe others with similar challenges will relate and gain strength for their
own life through my story. I had a mission.
Tip#2: Connect with Your Own Purpose for Writing Your Story
Once I was 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-in-my-core.
Connecting with my story, the one only I can tell, allows me to believe I have a story to tell.
But first, I have to get by my inner critic. You know, the one who says:
- What makes you think anyone will want to read your story?
- Your story isn’t that unique.
- You can’t write that well anyway.
- Who cares?
Tip#3: Put your inner critic in his/her place.
Here’s a great post by Cheryl Stahle, author of Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing,
on how to do that. I love the idea she poses of talking to stuffed animals! Do whatever it takes. I find
having a deep-in-my-core belief in my story does help keep this pesky one at bay.
Tip#4: 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.
Go with the flow and the heart of your story will reveal itself.
Tip#5: Write Daily
Sometimes just the act of writing words unlocks the creative juices:
- Free write - put any words on paper even if they don’t make sense.
- Journal - thoughts, feelings, reactions
Tip#6: Take time to pause and think
This will help you tap into memories and make connections about their meaning from your adult
perspective. Sometimes my best ideas flow when I take time to walk in the garden or sit in church.
Writers, we really are working when we’re staring out the window!
Tip#7: Shape your writing into a story
Once I connected with the heart of my story through journaling, writing vignettes, reflecting, I began to
think about my story structure, which I explain in this post.
Memoir has a transformative power for both the writer and the reader. I want to invite my readers into my
experience in a way that connects them to the heart of their own stories.
I am in the process of shaping my story with a goal of completing my first draft by January, 2013. I will
take the time it takes to write it right because I do believe deep in my core that I have a story to tell
and that I am the only one who can tell it.
How about you? Have you found the heart of the story? Do you have a deep-in-you-core belief that you have
a story only you can tell?