Personal Writing is Rarely Just About the End Product

Personal Writing is Rarely Just About the End Product

 

Personal writing is rarely just about the end product. It’s a process. And that process can be a real gift, requiring deep thought and reflection. Yes, it often comes with challenges and surprises, but it’s a bit like going fishing. You never know what you’re going to find. (Or what finds you!) Even the difficult parts of life, when written about, take on different hues, and allow you to look from a different perspective.

My two memoirs have been about powerful personal experiences: one in a war zone, the other accompanying my mother with dementia. I might have thought I was writing about human rights, or breaking down barriers about dementia. But looking back, I realise I was just trying to make sense of it all — of the madness of life.

That’s why I encourage people who are thinking about writing — perhaps daring themselves to give it a go — to dive in. It’s not so much the end product as the process of writing that’s the real gift.

Over the years I’ve been contacted by quite a few people wanting to write part of their own story, but wondering where to start. Here’s my suggested strategy — three questions to ask yourself.

  1. If you were to choose six parts of your life to write about (they could be events, experiences, life stages, transitions, or times when you learnt something significant) what would they be?
  2. Why do you now feel the urge to write? Is it because you promised yourself you would before your turned, 30, 50 or 75? Perhaps you want to hand stories down to family members. Or to reflect on your journey so far? Is it to tell the story of others through your own eyes? Or to let your creative self flourish and see what emerges?
  3. Who would you like the audience for your writing to be? Are you writing for anyone in particular? Or just for yourself? Would you like your prose or poetry to be published?

Once you’ve answered the questions, start thinking about those six things you’ve chosen to write about. Then pick up a pen or tap away at the keyboard. It’s fine to only write a paragraph on each. Or pages.

Then put it all down and leave it for a bit. Unless you just can’t stop writing. Then, come back to what you’ve written. Is there one part that stands out? Is there a common thread? What would you like to replace or add?

This might give you an idea of what you really want to write about. Or at least give you a starting point.

And remember, rather than pressuring yourself to write a bestseller, write with freedom. No one is watching.

You never quite know what’s going to happen once you start on your own personal writing adventure. Be brave, be creative, and allow the  story to emerge.

Go for it!

Michele

ps for those who say they can’t write, then speak it, record it, and get hold of some technology that can type it for you.

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Text and Image © Michele Gierck

Photo at Peggy’s Cove, Canada

Staying Upbeat

Staying Upbeat


Dear Friends, Readers, Community,

Here’s a quote for the day that someone I’ve never met was kind enough to send me.
Necessity is the mother of invention. In these challenging times get creative!

Creativity and curiosity are great gifts to have, especially now. They help us stay upbeat.

Friends have been sending me links to useful online sites. No point keeping them to myself, so here they are.
For some relaxing yoga — as good for the mind as the body — check out this online session.

If you’re up for a free short course, you might like to have a look at the broad selection on offer at Future Learn, from screen writing to health and history.

Feel free to contact me via the contact page on my website if you have ideas or comments.

Photo and text copyright Michele Gierck

Hunkering Down? Get Creative. Start Writing…

Hunkering down at home due to COVID-19 (coronavirus)? Now might be the perfect time to start that story you’ve always wanted to tell. Michele Gierck, a specialist memoir writer and professional biographer can work with you, via Skype or phone, to write, or help you write, your story. For those of you who are not sure where to begin, YOU MIGHT ONLY NEED A COUPLE OF SESSIONS WITH MICHELE TO KICK-START YOUR CREATIVITY.

If you’d like to discuss your writing project with Michele, please get in touch with her via the contact page on her website.

Although based in Australia, Michele has been working with people in the USA and Europe for a number of years.
You can check out her author profile at, Amazon or on her website.

Recent praise for Michele’s writing, or help writing, memoirs:

‘Michele genuinely loves what she does. This is evident not only by the finished product but the way she goes above and beyond throughout the process of writing a book. I highly recommend Michele.’ (Tracey Hughes – Biography/Family History)
“I decided to put pen to paper and write my migrant journey. I am indebted to Michele Gierck for her guidance, incredible insight and structural ability so that my story flowed, resulting in the completion of a magnificent outcome, both as a literary achievement and quality of finished book. I can confidently recommend Michele as a true professional.’
Sam Tarascio, Founder and Executive Chairman of Salta Properties, one of Australia’s Top 50 privately-owned companies.

Image copyright Michele Gierck (Michele speaking at a literary event)

Can You Think of a Title for My New Book?

Can You Think of a Title for My New Book?

The front garden view from my writing room

I’m just about to send the first few chapters of my latest non-fiction book to my agent who loved the earlier draft. All I need is a title. If you can think of one, I’d sure appreciate hearing from you.
Just drop a line via the contact page of my website: www.michelegierck.com.au

About the manuscript

It’s a post-injury come-back tale in which the bush, the ocean, a bloke (a fellow) and travel all play their part.

Here’s the pitch.
When Michele, a broken down sojourner, meets Mac, a dedicated river scientist, she is drawn into his orbit, the gravity of which propels her onto an uncharted trajectory. And yes folks, it’s a true story!

If you’d like to know more about this book, including the title that we choose or publication date, just sign up to the newsletter on my website.

Image and text copyright Michele Gierck

Pottering in the Garden Generates Creative Ideas

Pottering in the Garden Generates Creative Ideas

There’s nothing like pottering in the garden, losing yourself in spring blooms, to get creative ideas. The garden is my writer’s retreat. I’m most appreciative of this space as I edge closer to finishing the writing of my next book.

There’s nothing like pottering in the garden to generate creative ideas.

Image and writing © Michele Gierck

Writing and Travel have Much in Common

Working on a new non-fiction book can be as adventurous as living the experience. I’m also amazed how much writing and travel have in common, taking you to places you never imagined. I’ve just completed the first draft on my latest writing project. Now awaiting my agent’s thoughts.

A stunning view across Lord Howe Island

Image and text © Michele Gierck

The Twelfth Raven – a fabulous read

The Twelfth Raven – a fabulous read


The Twelfth Raven is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read — non-fiction — in a while. It’s upbeat and insightful even though it’s mainly the story of Doris Brett’s husband’s stroke and recovery, and Doris’s role accompanying him. Anyone who has found themselves thrust into the medical system, and has experienced it as an outsider, will relate to this account. It’s an inspiring recollection of lives that are well lived, and also well reflected upon.

Text © Michele Gierck

Take your time to really listen to others

‘Take your time to really hear others'< was a an article which appeared in Australian newspapers and led to ABC radio interviews around the country. The article was based on interviews Michele did in Australia and the US.

The article seemed to hit home with quite a few people.

If you have any memorable or interesting stories or experiences about listening that you’d like to share, feel free to send them to Michele via the contact page on her website.

Enjoy

Image and text © Michele Gierck

Who Really Listens?

Who Really Listens?

The headline for my latest article on listening, which appeared in The Age (Australia) and other Fairfax media, was titled: The Opposite of Talking? Too often, it’s not Listening. But it could be. The article has created quite a bit of interest, drawing on the insights and experiences of people from Australia and the USA.

Listening, what an art it is. Hopefully not a lost art!

I’m currently collecting stories about listening. So if you have one you’d like to share, please send it via the contact page on my website.

Image and text © Michele Gierck

We All Have Our Stories

We All Have Our Stories

Sunset Lake Eyre July 2010

We all have our stories. But so often our stories are not heard. And if not written down, at least in Western culture, they are often forgotten.

I was reminded of this during an early morning visit to the local pool. (I’ve been swimming at the same pool for nine years.) Today, instead of laps I was walking up and down in the aqua play area, and so was a retired fellow called Joe. We always say hello to each other, but this morning, since we were walking at the same pace, we started chatting. And before I knew it, I was listening to an amazing story.

In ten minutes I learnt that Joe was from Italy and had migrated to Australia as a 24 or 25 year old. Married to a woman from his own village, and determined to support his family and have a life, once in Australia, Joe worked in the textile industry — 7 days a week! And he worked hard.

Truth be known, Joe had always worked hard. His parents died when he was seven years old, and his 16-year-old sister — who had one leg amputated — had brought up Joe and his younger brother. By nine years of age, Joe was accustomed to walking 35 kilometres to the nearest town to sell goods, and then 35 kilometres back home. All in the one day! And I can just imagine the condition of his shoes.

By nine years of age, Joe had become the man of the house.

Now a grandfather, when I suggested that Joe write his story, so his kids and grandkids could understand the sheer guts and determination that is part of their family roots, and their DNA, he confided that he’d learnt to read, but not to write.

And that got me thinking. (I can’t help it. I am a memoir writer, having written two of my own memoirs, and quite a number for other people. I’m always thinking about life stories.) What would be the best way for someone who is not able to write in their second language to record their story? It’s an important question because Joe is one of the many many people whose story is so worthy of being on the public record — not just for the public, but for his own family, and for generations to come.

Image and text © Michele Gierck