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. In case you missed them, read Mistakes #1-4 here!
Mistake #5: Losing Sight of Why I Chose To Write a Memoir
When I embarked on writing a memoir in 2018, I knew exactly why I was doing it. I was honoring my mother and her memory and coming to terms with the grief of losing her.
But when I started writing, somehow my innermost motivations got knocked to the side—and in barged the big, bad, monster questions that were not only unhelpful—but also totally irrelevant.
Big, Bad, Monster Questions
I asked myself questions like:
- Will my memoir be cheesy?
- Will my memoir let loose too many personal stories I’d rather keep to myself?
- What rating will my memoir get on Goodreads?
- Wait, why am I assuming my book will even be on Goodreads? Don’t you need a certain level of author cred for that?
All these questions (and many, many more) caused me to lose sight of the big picture—of the heartbeat that drove me to write my book in the first place.
What You Can Learn From My Mistake
I’ve found that when I’m feeling resistance to the work, a lot of it comes from having disconnected from my ultimate goals for my book. When I realign my vision with what I truly want this book to be, the writing starts to flow.
The truth, as we all know too well, is that writing can be a grind. So much of a grind that we need every spark of inspiration we can get. So much of a grind that we can’t rely on external motivation to get us there. The work has to come from within.
Write From Your Heart
So unless you want your writing process to be fraught with all kinds of distracting and ultimately unhelpful stressors, forget about publishers, agents, and your image as a writer. Instead, write from your heart. Let the work take you where it wants to go. It’s waiting to come out. And we’re waiting to read it.
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.