Just “throw up” on paper!

Image by from

I know it’s a challenge sometimes to just keep going! To just keep writing!

it’s so instinctual for us to want to edit as we go along. But you can break the habit, and you’ll be happier in the long run for it.

Editing along the way interrupts the creative flow in your mind.

It’s better to “throw up on paper” and have a lot of thoughts and ideas, from which you can edit later.

This is mostly about mindset.

You tend to labor over one page again and again, or, you feel a third of the way through that you should go back and fix/change…

photo by Carolyn V. Hamilton

The very idea of bussing through the Andes evokes images of chickens and goats and pigs as fellow passengers. I found this historic South American travel legend to be far removed from my 10-hour bus ride from Cuenca to Quito, Ecuador. The ride was not, however, without its moments.

At 7:00 a.m. lively activity sparks the Terminal Terrestre bus station in Cuenca. …

photos by Pixabay.com

Let’s admit it right up front.

No matter why you’re writing a memoir, I believe everyone would secretly like to have a New York Times best-seller.

For this to happen, first your book has to have that magic “something” that entices and intrigues agents, editors, and ultimately readers.

So right now I want to share with you some ideas of what that could be, so you can be thinking about it.

To borrow from fiction I want you to begin to think in terms of

· a classic plot device

· an enticing topic, or

· a universal theme


Your life story could make a best-selling novel, if you follow these steps

Here are 5 great reasons you can write your personal story as a novel:

1. You can write about scenes and events you didn’t actually witness.

2. You can make up new dialogue.

3. Events can be rearranged to create a new compelling story.

4. You can add or delete people or events according to a more dramatic, creative storyline.

5. Writing about what happened and your feelings about it could be easier for you emotionally.

Your personal story already contains many of the same elements you would use to write a novel.

There will be interesting characters, snappy dialogue…

Background photo courtesy of Pixabay

What are you going to call your personal story? A memoir or an autobiography?

What’s the difference? Is there any difference?

It’s important that you are clear about this because your potential reader wants to know this right up front.

According to Writer’s Digest:

· An autobiography focuses on the chronology of the writer’s entire life

· A memoir covers one specific aspect of the writer’s life.

I’ve noticed recently in the marketing world of Amazon.com that many autobiographies are being labeled as memoir.

For instance, Michelle Obama’s book is called a memoir when in fact it covers her…


Do the PLOT POINTS (that’s “writer-speak”) in your novel make sense?

The last thing you want is for your reader to throw your book down in disgust and declare, “That is so stupid! That would never happen!”

How many times have you heard or read that if you come home and find your door ajar, you should NOT ENTER, but immediately leave and call the police?

Yet in so many television dramas I see the main character walk right in — albeit with caution — while in my head I’m screaming, “That’s STUPID! Don’t do that!”

To me, that is cliché action and borderline “would never happen.”

Even if you write…

“The first step to writing a memoir is getting over your fear of exposure, says memoir editor Kristin McTiernan. “That fear can be crippling.”

As a Success Coach for Memoir Writers and Admin for the Facebook group, , I hear this fear expressed in many different ways.

One big fear of exposure is sharing painful memories and emotions. How much should you tell? What you do leave out? How do you find the right words to explain your strongest, most painful — or even your happiest memory?

This may come easier for writers who have kept a personal journal for years, but what about the rest of us?

The strongest element in any memoir is in emotion.

Readers want to know how what happened to you affected you, and how it…

Image by from

I’m willing to guess that 90% of people who think about writing a memoir will never do it.

Their reasons usually boil down to one or several of these 8:

1 — I really don’t have the time to write

2 — I don’t know how to write

3 — It’s all too painful to write about

4 — No one would be interested

5 — I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings

6 — I don’t want to be sued.

7 — I’m afraid of what my spouse/children/parents/co-workers/ex-boss/ex-spouse/ex-lover/sister/brother/cousin will think.

8 — I don’t know where to start

This guess of mine is based on years of working as a memoir author, a memoir workshop leader and…

PHOTO courtesy of Pixxabay

There’s an old joke that two things in life are inevitable: death and taxes.

To that I’d add, change. Whether we like it or not, our lives are constantly in a state of change.

It’s always been a given in fiction writing that the main character must experience some form of change by the end of the book.

So what does this have to do with writing a memoir, you ask?

Personal experience — and the changes that result — leads to lessons learned.

I’m sure you’ll agree that you know a lot more now than you did when the journey you want to write about in your memoir began.

In some — maybe several — ways that knowledge has changed you.

Here are 21 life events that can cause dramatic change in one’s life:

· Moving to a new…

Did you know that In fiction writing, there are only 6 mini-themes?

1. Love

2. Hate

3. Greed

4. Passion

5. Pain

6. Revenge

Notice these are all strong EMOTIONS.

At least 3 of them should be in a novel in some form.

And this applies to your memoir as well.

Here are the 3 I identified for my first memoir,

1. Love

2. Greed

3. Passion

And here are the 3 I identified for my second memoir,

1. Love

2. Passion

3. Pain

These themes about strong emotions…

Carolyn V. Hamilton

Author, graphic designer & copywriter with 30+years in the real world of “Mad Men.” Love dogs & Chai tea & chocolate.

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