Redrafting your life writing – key elements

Once you have done a lot of writing and drawn out a wealth of material, the next stage is to think about how to form it into a story. While it’s in its raw form, what you have is a repository of memories particular to you. If you want to create something that others will enjoy reading, these are the elements you need: 1. Structure, pacing and tension – where will these come from? How will you start your story? Not with explanation, which is boring, but with some kind of action. What is the … [Read more...]

7 tips for overcoming life writing blocks

While we might recognize the blocks that stop us writing material from life, we need some practical strategies to get past them. Some methods are practical, some are “sneaky”! Apply whatever works for you. 1. Write each story as fully as you can. In other words, don’t try to censor yourself before you even start. That leads to stops and starts, lack of flow and giving in to doubts. Write everything – literally. Every single detail you can remember or conjure up, including using the five … [Read more...]

The keys to successful life writing

There has been a huge growth in life writing and memoirs over the past decade. Suddenly it’s not just the famous who are worth reading about. People who have done amazing things or suffered horrific life experiences have written their stories (sometimes with help) and published them. Readership has also grown. Why do readers love life writing? We love stories. Many people love fiction more than “real life”, but still, a story is a story. We love to feel we are not alone, and we like to read … [Read more...]

Life writing – scary or liberating?

Recently I’ve been teaching a workshop on life writing, so I thought I would share the main points here – both for participants and anyone else who is interested. When we talk about life writing, it can encompass autobiographical, biographical, oral history and memoir, but it means you are drawing on real life. This might be memories, diaries, photographs, interviews – but the key to life writing is, I think, its emotional depth. This is what makes it scary. Especially if you are writing … [Read more...]