“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”
A published memoir takes introspection, copious time alone, awareness, observation, and lots and lots of writing.
To even get to the point where you have a rich enough field of material in which to harvest for your book involves daily writing.
Journalling is the very best thing you can do to hone the memoir-writing muscle. Why? Because it helps you develop your observation, find your voice, become used to not writing for anyone but you (and simply getting pleasure from this dance across the page), and more importantly, get brave and ‘safe’ enough on the page to explore sensitive topics, deeply.
It’s how you ‘turn pro’ as a writer, and it means that, come time to get your memoir ready to outline or even pitch to a publisher, you have a deep pool of material in which to sift and hone for your gold.
I’m in the process of starting another memoir. It’s that magical part in the process where i’m just messing around with ideas, pooling it all and carving it into themes and an outline that I’ll then develop into the first draft. It’s time to head into the attic (yes, i have one!), sift through my boxes of journals from key points in the journey I’ll be exploring in this book, and mining for gold.
It also has an uncanny way of making your mind feel as though you’ve already ‘half-written’ the book (even though – yes, you’ll need to do quite a bit of structural work to turn those handwritten scrawls publication-ready!).
Journalling is an exquisite practise, and the reason i love it so much is summed up in another lovely May Sarton quote from one of her books (appropriately-titled) Journal of a Solitude:
“There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But… time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.”
Some of my favourite published memoirists who began with a journal:
Do you have a daily memoir journalling practise down pat? If not, take my journalling for memoir e-course. Every time i look at the prompts I find something new to write about. Why? Because we change every day.
Life is overflowing with new things to learn, see, write about and feel. Hit ‘flow’ on your creativity with this course!