A few years ago, I was contacted by a woman who desperately wanted to write down the story of her mother’s life. She wasn’t sure if the book should be in novel form, or more like a memoir, but she knew that she wanted to bring it into being. At the time she contacted me, though, she was suffering from severe writer’s block. She had tried everything, she told me, and nothing worked. She just couldn’t get herself to write the story.
When she signed on for coaching with me, she told me she wanted to share what she had already completed on the project and asked if she could send those materials over to me. I agreed and then checked my email shortly afterward and was astounded at what she sent. Continue Reading
Every year, hundreds of new books on productivity are published on Amazon. Out of all these books, a significant slice is dedicated to productivity for writers. Many of the titles promise to teach us how to write faster, how to schedule our time more efficiently, or how to publish our books more rapidly. But no matter what they promise, they all contain a common theme: The way you are working now is not good enough. You are too slow, and if you are too slow as a writer, you will get left behind.
I shudder when I see these kinds of books, and my heart breaks a little more each time I work with a new client who tells me that they’ve been devouring this kind of material in the hopes that it will help them become a better writer. Because these types of books are intertwined with the dominant mindset of our culture that says that a person’s worth is defined by their productivity, and that there should be no low-energy periods of any creative cycle. It’s best to be always growing, growing, growing, and getting bigger and bigger, like a corporation.
But writers are not corporations. And the belief systems that run corporations are poisonous to the natural cycle of life. Continue Reading
In 2015, I was still an unpublished writer. I had been querying for years with no success. I had sent out queries on three different novels and had queried so many agents I lost count of them all. I had rewritten my first chapters, my opening scenes, my first sentences, over and over and over again. Nothing worked and I was getting nowhere.
By that point I had been querying for years, six years to be exact, and so I had created a system to give myself emotional down time and also keep from losing my damn mind. I sent out a batch of queries every six to eight weeks, received back the rejections (or gave up hope of any answer), and then gave myself “recovery time,” while I recuperated from feeling depressed, discouraged, and despairing.
I went through many cycles on the emotional rollercoaster that we call the querying process. There was the stage where I was sure that if I could just learn more about “my craft” I would get a bite. I also went through the stage where I was convinced I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Then there was the stage where I tried to shove my novels into a genre—any genre—that looked like it might hold some promise. Finally, there was my least-favorite stage—the stage where I couldn’t help but feel I just sucked, and so did my writing. Continue Reading
Even if you’ve been dreaming of writing your memoir for years, it’s very common to sit down to actually start doing it and feel immediately paralyzed and not able to move forward. This is a very specific, very strong form of writer’s block that often hits writers right when they’ve decided to finally take the plunge and begin writing their memoir. It also tends to happen to writers who have already started their memoir, and then they get into the middle of the first draft and don’t know how to keep going.
Symptoms of this kind of resistance show up as feeling paralyzed or frozen. It also shows up as feeling completely confused about how you’re ever going to pull all the pieces together, finish the book, or make it into anything worthwhile.
When this feeling of paralysis comes over you, it’s a sure sign that your system is overwhelmed. And when we go into overwhelm, we shut down and our creative energy goes into hiding. Continue Reading
It’s very common for writers to begin writing their memoir and then tell me, “Oh wow, I wish I’d started this years ago. I can’t believe I put off writing my book for this long.” This is because, once the writer starts actually writing, they realize that they’ve been getting clear signs all along that writing their memoir was an important life task they are supposed to complete.
So, why do we ignore clear signs and still keep procrastinating on writing our memoir? Well, it’s pretty simple really. It’s fear. Every writer who has ever considered writing a memoir has felt this fear—and it’s no easy thing to conquer.
However, there are handful of BIG signs (5 in particular) that only happen when it’s truly time for a person to get serious about writing their memoir.
I outline these 5 signs in the video below:
I’m teaching a new class this June called Memoir Writing for Everyone and we’re going to be diving deep into the memoir writing process. We’ll be learning:
How to start your first draft
How to edit and structure your memoir
How to deal with fear of judgment
The class will also include Directed Writing Sessions, in which I’ll be giving memoir-specific prompts to get you going on writing some of the actual pieces of your memoir, so you’ll have something substantial to work with once the class ends.
To get all the updates on the class as I announce them, be sure to sign up for my newsletter HERE, and if you have any questions about the class, you can them to me here.
I’ll be releasing the third and final video in this series in just a couple of days. See you then!
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer, The INFJ Revolution, and the creator of Intuitive Writing, an online video course for INFJ and INFP writers who struggle with traditional writing methods. You can get a free copy of her book on creative marketing for writers by signing up for her newsletter HERE.