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How I Became a Writer – Steps to Writing a Memoir

Through the book inc program, Shanda McManus learns what she needed to commit to writing her memoir.

By Shanda McManus

March 14, 2022

I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write a memoir. I wanted to tell my story. Trust me, I really did—except that I didn’t write that much. Once a month, I would crank something out because it was due for my writing workshop, but other than that, I believed that I did not have the time to write.

Maybe if I had a deadline and a high word count, I thought, then I would write. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and had a grand total of 500 words by the end of the month.

I thought weekly word counts might get me to the 50,000 words finish line. So, I joined book inc’s Novel Incubator. This is where I found my way to writing practice.

Make Writing a Practice

First, I made the commitment to write and meet the weekly targets. This is critical, kind of like taking marriage vows, you make the promise first. Being in a group of other writers supported me and held me accountable.

Second, I found the time. I am a physician, wife, and mother of five. So, yes, I am busy. Once my day got started, there was never time or energy left over to write. I discovered the only time that would work was before my day started. Literally at 5 am before anyone else was awake.

Third, I found the place. I don’t have an office or dedicated writing space in my house. I tried working in a spare bedroom, the basement, and my closet. Nothing felt right. I was like the princess and the pea. Finally, I just set up in the family room. When my family woke up, they saw me at the desk. And slowly, they began to respect my writing practice, and they left me alone to write.

Being part of a community, I found my commitment, the time, and the place to write. That’s how I became a writer. Through well, writing.

Shanda McManus has been featured in Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine, Midnight & Indigo, and other publications.