My biggest challenge in writing a memoir

I’m writing a memoir this year. If you’d told me that I would do that at this same time last year, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s something I need to do now.

The challenge in writing my memoir is writing those scenes about really difficult parts of my life.

I know what those parts are as I’ve made an outline (a complete shocker for someone who is more a pantser, aka a seat of the pants writer, aka not a natural outline creator).

I’m not writing my book in order, I’m just letting myself write what wants to be written for the memoir, no matter where in the book the scene is (this is so easy to do in Novlr).

Some of the scenes I’ve planned for my memoir are very hard to write about. They are very painful to remember and bring up.

I have one chapter that gets a few lines a time. It’s awfully painful, and hard to look at.

Then again, every line I write makes it less hard. Every line I write pulls those tough memories out of my mind and adds them to the memoir.

It is a most wonderful way of letting go.

The challenge comes after I’ve written my words. You see, I notice a tendency: I immediately want to start editing my words.

It’s as if my mind can’t handle the rawness of my very first draft words, and tries to contain them into a neatly crafted block of text.

If I let myself, I could be working on those lines for days. Polishing them up until they are just perfect.

writing a memoir

The thing is, if I do that, I’m not writing anything else that I need to write about. I’m not writing about the joyful times, about the silly things that happened, and about the blessings I’ve received.

I also take the raw energy of that first draft away immediately. The memories ARE intense but I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve to stay as they are.

I need to keep reminding myself that what matters is that I made it through that time in my life. Not unscathed, but with a new level of understanding myself and what makes me tick.

That matters more than endlessly polishing up words about a past that I’ve lived through already. A past I’m more than proud to write in all its rawness, in all its deep, dark, unfiltered nature.

Yes, the time to edit will come eventually. But not as I write it. It will come when the book is finished and I’m sitting with a printed copy and go through it with a red pen.

That’s when I can make the book into what it’s supposed to be. Not by anxiously polishing up words so they are less scary to re-read.

And you know what? I think that the chapters I will edit the least will be the ones where my emotion are at its most raw. Because as a reader, those chapters always make the biggest impressions on me.

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