If you asked me a few years ago the benefits of writing a memoir, I’d probably still hesitate over the question as I still didn’t quite understand the genre of memoir let alone its benefits. Now that I’m one month away from finishing a very polished draft of my memoir, Accidental Soldier: What My Service in the Israel Defense Forces Taught me about Faith, Courage and Love, I’m completely cognizant of how powerful this journey has become. Here’s some of the benefits I personally discovered along the way.
1. You develop important habits and rituals. You need the right mindset including your Whys for writing, and be able to work with the inner critic along the way. Having a tool box that can enable you to move forward with the writing even on hard days is crucial. You need to constantly see the bigger thematic issues that are representative of your story arc.
2. You preserve the past in story form. The well-known quote states: “The present moment is what we desire and become.” What you now know about the past makes you a stronger storyteller. Setting your truth free can be a very enlightening and powerful experience. Going back and forth in time then becomes an easier task. We don’t live in the past, yet our job as memoirists obligates us to write about the past in such a way that connect s with the reader to the present moment of his/her reading.
When the snow is falling and the garbage truck guy is right outside my window, I still need to connect with that 19 year old on an IDF base near Lebanon or Gaza strip. I need to let my present day obligations as a wife and mother lay low for a while. This isn’t always easy, but the more I write, the more I step into my role as a storyteller.
3. People will connect with you much more deeply than with a regular how-to book. You’re putting yourself out there. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and yet, it is the highest level of generosity. You’ll find people all over resonating with your story and message because you dared to write it.
4. The art of the craft. Memoir is not as one editor put it – ME-moir. There is a special craft to “putting yourself out there.” Hiring a fantastic editor who comes from the genre of memoir who asks you “big thematic questions” at each stage of your manuscript, will force you to see your life as story, not just an incident. A writer’s goal should hopefully be to become a better writer, no?
5. You build your business. Having a published book can open many doors. Bureaus, organizations and groups will ask you to speak. Your book is a ticket to radio shows and other media venues. You can conduct workshops, and other informal talks. With a memoir, you position yourself in two ways: your story AND your message. If your message is powerful, your peeps will get that from reading the book. And don’t forget that word of mouth is the best form of advertising, so take your time, and write the best book you can.
Memoir writing can be a challenging and rewarding pursuit. There’s no better time to write your memoir than the present time. What other benefits do you associate with memoir writing?
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