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Mistake #4: Imagining All My Long-Lost Friends and Relatives Critiquing My Memoir

After four years of working on my memoir, I (with the help of the Memoir Incubator!) finally finished my first draft. In the hopes of helping out my fellow writers, I’m sharing the top five mistakes I made that slowed down the process of writing my memoir and made me feel pretty cruddy while doing it.

Go to “Mistake #1: Comparing Myself to Other Writers,” Mistake #2: Getting Lost in a Rabbit Hole of Memories,” and “Mistake #3: Telling Anyone and Everyone About My Memoir” to read about how rocky this process has been for me!

Mistake #4: Imagining All My Long-Lost Friends and Relatives Critiquing My Memoir

During the drafting of my own memoir, I found myself burdened with the critical voices of many of my long-lost friends and relatives—even ones I haven’t seen in pretty much forever.

In fact, throughout these last four years of writing I’ve been on the receiving end of countless imaginary scowls, eyebrow raises, and sneers. I’ve had peers from high school turn their noses up at me. Third cousins twice-removed attempt to erase my name from their family tree. And don’t get me started on what my neighbors have said!

My imagination has spent so much time scaring myself silly with all the critiques my writing might possibly receive. While this energy could have been spent crafting scenes, dialogue, and pacing for my memoir, I instead used it to invent reasons to be afraid. Not the most efficient and effortless way to draft a memoir, that’s for sure.

What You Can Learn From My Mistake

Instead of worrying about what people will say, I try to write for myself and myself only. As Stephen King advises, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” As writers, our first drafts are for ourselves only. No long-lost relatives allowed!

If you’ve been finding these tips helpful, be sure to look out for my last drafting no-no: “Mistake #5: Losing Sight of Why I Chose to Write Memoir.”

About the Author

As a writer of nonfiction, memoir, and marketing copy, Elisheva (rhymes with “whateva”) Trenk has been commissioned to write for niche magazines, media companies, and luxury lifestyle brands. She is currently working on a memoir about her strong and sparkling mother. Elisheva’s favorite forms of procrastination include dive-bombing the scented candles at Bath & Body Works and being taken on long walks by her spirited lab-setter mix, Bumble.