Memoir Writing For Dummies
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Writing is a solitary act, so finding ways to combat the sense of loneliness is a good idea. Here are a few ways to create and develop a community to help support you in writing your memoir. Few people can appreciate the struggles a writer faces like another writer can.

  • Take a writing course at a university, community college, or community center. The structure these groups — having a certain number of pages due at firm dates — is very helpful for some writers. Just remember that it’s less about the grade than it is the skills you master and the feedback you receive. Another thing to remember is that there are plenty of great teachers without huge bestselling books to their credit. Pay attention to what former students say about teachers. That’s a great way to find the right class for you.

  • Join an online writers’ group. They’re cheap, easy to find, and come in an endless variety of options in terms of meeting frequency, experience level of participants, and general level of seriousness. Members are often eager to share information about submitting a manuscript for publication, sending work to literary agents, and, of course, doing the writing itself. Try out a few so you can fully see what your options are before completely committing to a group.

  • Join a book club. Although having thoughtful discussions on any book can be helpful, you want to seek out clubs that specialize in memoirs and biographies. Really take notes on the type of things the other readers admire in the books as well as what they don’t like. This information can prove invaluable to you when writing your own memoir.

  • Write a short letter to a writer you admire and ask for one specific piece of advice to help you with your memoir. Doing this the old pen-and-paper way versus email is recommended — writers appreciate the extra effort.

  • Attend book festivals and local literary readings. Be a part of the world of books and writing at the grassroots level. Listen to poets read work at local coffeehouses where the ink is still fresh on the page. Talk to authors who are selling their own titles off card tables they rent in conference rooms. Take note of what you plan to do when your memoir is out, and also take note of what you absolutely don’t want to do. In any case, you can develop new friendships, learn new lessons, and appreciate books. This is the world you will one day be a part of.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Ryan G. Van Cleave, PhD, is the author of 20 books, including creative writing textbooks, an illustrated humor book, a young adult novel, and a bestselling memoir.?He lives in Sarasota, Florida, where he works as an international speaker, a freelance writer, and the creative writing coordinator for The Ringling College of Art + Design. He has taught memoir writing at numerous universities as well as at prisons, community centers, and urban at-risk youth programs.

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