What’s Taking You So Long!

Sometimes, years after I’ve learned that someone is writing a memoir, I will connect with the writer. Perhaps two or three or four years later, the same writer is working on the same memoir. I don’t get it. So I ask politely, “Why isn’t the memoir finished?” What I know is a memoir needn’t take so long to compose. Why is this one dragging on?

Here are some possible snags:

1. The author is fearful of the reaction s/he will receive with a published book and prefers never finishing the book to facing her/his fears of negative reactions.

2. The author is a perfectionist who is forsaking good for perfect. But, how many times can a line be rewritten before it’s just substitution rather than improvement?

3. S/he is enjoying being a writer and is apprehensive that finishing the memoir will be the end of his/her creativity–or at least the end of her expression of creativity.

4. S/he is indisciplined and never finishes anything. Here some focus on scheduling and goal setting is in order.

5. The writer is simply lacking confidence in his/her ability to write.

For those who would spend less time writing I offer these suggestions.

1. Set a deadline by which the book will be completed. Be realistic but be challenging, too.

2. Break various tasks into sub tasks and created deadlines for each. This will make each phase of the project less daunting.

3. Accept that you will miss something in your memoir and be comfortable with that. You can include the missing part in your next book.

4. Plan another writing project. This will create some excitement for finishing this book and moving on.

Generally speaking it is appropriate to think of the length of a memoir-writing project in terms of two or three years. 

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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