Many people believe that writing a memoir involves heading out to the woods alone for six months and emerging with a shiny glowing manuscript.
Believe it or not, there is a better way.
In a certain sense, a memoir is like a fire. If you keep fire enclosed and cut off its source of oxygen, the fire dies out. So too with a memoir, if you keep it locked up in your computer and never share it, you're headed for disaster.
Based on our research, most people who start a memoir don't actually finish it. These are people who love their family just like you, and want to pass down their family stories with the same fervor that you do. However, many fall victim to a terrible disease that I like to call the rookie author syndrome.
Rookie authors believe that the hard part of writing a book is the actual writing. Experienced authors know that sharing what you wrote, and opening yourself up to the possibility that not everyone likes it, can be far more difficult than actually writing the book! That's why so many rookie authors have a book they've finished sitting on their computers with nobody having ever read it.
The same thing happens with many memoir writers. They start writing, and then give up after a minor setback. This is what happened to my grandmother. None of us knew she was writing a memoir until we found 15 pages worth of stories after she passed away.
Luckily there is a simple trick you can use that will ensure that you do not suffer from rookie author syndrome. Share your stories as you write them.
This strategy benefits all parties concerned. Say your memoir is comprised of fifty stories. Think about how much nicer it would be for your kids if, instead of getting a book at the end, they got to anxiously await each new story. Then after reading each story, they could discuss it with you, and reminisce about old times. They could recommend new story ideas, and help keep you motivated when you don't feel like writing. Instead of being passive onlookers, they get to participate and enjoy this process actively with you. It becomes a wonderful family bonding experience.
For you, your memoir gets the oxygen it needs to flourish. Sharing one day's worth of work is orders of magnitude easier than sharing a years worth of work. Since you are getting consistent feedback and encouragement from your family, you don't need to worry about their reaction. Also, knowing your family and friends are anxiously awaiting your memoir is a great encouragement to keep you motivated and happy as you are writing.
This is why one of the most important features of Memoir Place is the ability to instantly share your stories with you family as you finish them.
Whether you use Memoir Place or not, you should not be working on your memoir alone. Involving your family and friends not only greatly increases your chances of success, but it makes the process so much more enjoyable.
This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.