Show Up and Do the Work

To your dismay, you have been writing in snippets. In the mornings, when you show up at your laptop, you face, as does every writer, a demanding master: writing for the day.

Oh, how you wish it were the end of your scheduled writing period!

Like many memoir writers, your memoir writing time is perhaps not long. Then you need to move on to the numerous chores that are attendant on keeping a life and a home going. You feel some urgency to write deathless prose because of the short time allotted.

Perhaps you open a file and find there 200 words you had written, say, several days earlier. Then you think, “OK, today, I bring this vignette to completion,” but it seems that you can only write another few hundred words before you feel like moving on to something else–anything else but this dreadful text on the screen before you! What you have been writing that day seems to be only trash. Any junior high school writer could do better, for heaven’s sake! So you think, “I better move on to another story. Let this ‘meretricious melodrama’ incubate for a while longer.”

You open another document. “What do you know, this story fragment already has 500 words. I’ll pitch right in with some editing. Get those five hundred words into shape.” By the time you get to the end of the text, you are able to add a few hundred new words and, by the time that was done, it has become the end of your hour and, with great relief, you realize you can move on and still call yourself a writer.

But wait, don’t walk away discouraged. Calculate the number of pages you have written. Even snippets add up to many pages if done regularly enough. While none of it is likely to be deathless prose, and you do not know how much of it will survive into a finished memoir, it is nonetheless always easier to rewrite and edit than to produce a fresh text. So–

Be kind to yourself. Keep at your work and you’ll produce some text to serve as a basis for a memoir.

Remember: “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.”


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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