Block Writer’s Block: Overcoming Challenges When Writing a Memoir

Published: October 31, 2022
Category: Book

Write from the inside out

Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, says that the biggest mistake writers make is that they don’t know what a story is. They have great ideas, beautiful prose, and plenty of plot and action, yet no real story and no driving sense of urgency. Because the human brain is wired for story and story is the language of the brain, stories help us make sense of the world. When a story is compelling, it has an electrical charge that makes you want to keep turning the pages. The next day, you might be tired from staying up half the night reading, but it was so worth it! Getting back to the biggest mistake: Rather than piling on more plot, dialogue, and characters in order to light that spark, successful authors understand that they must write from the protagonist’s eyes so that the reader experiences the book from this vantage point. The electricity comes when readers know things that the protagonist is not yet aware of, creating anticipation and sizzling drama. The electric charge really gets moving when writers show the protagonist’s internal struggle and the mistaken belief that prevents them from reaching their goal. It’s the distance between these two conflicting factors that becomes the story’s third rail. 

 

Writing beloved characters in your memoir with candor

Often people get nervous when there is a writer in their family because they might “reveal all the secrets” … and, many times, they do. I was fortunate to come from a loving, close-knit family. However, I share many zanny, poignant, and nostalgic stories that don’t always showcase me and my family members as picture perfect. When characters are perfectly imperfect, the story is more plausible and believable. It also strengthens the reader’s sense of connection to the characters as real people. One of the messages of SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain is that our vulnerability is our strength.  

 

The project that never ends: Your book isn’t finished until it’s on the printing press

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. A popular expression in the writing community is: KILL YOUR DARLINGS! This means that you can’t be attached to your stories because everything is up for grabs in the editing process. Editors love to mark up a manuscript. Each edit, however, brings you closer to the goal of having a book that people will enjoy reading and recommend to their friends.

 

I’m sending you strength and love,

Lisa

 

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