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

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

Writing Your Own Life Story Can Be Like Scaling A Mountain

Writing your own story can be like scaling a mountain. It takes a lot of effort. Lots and lots. Along the way there will be times when you chug along; times when you sweat it out; and moments when the peak seems so far off in the distance that giving up seems more than reasonable. (My attempt scaling Mount Aspiring in NZ springs to mind.) Here’s some ideas to get you going — writing not mountaineering.

Thinking about the following questions before you depart, might be one way to ensure you make it to the mountain top. (Or help you figure out, before expending loads of energy, that it’s not for you.)

If you’re thinking of embarking on that journey — of autobiography, biography or memoir — here’s some questions that might help.
1) Do you really want to do this?
2) Why do you really want to do this?
3) Who is your audience; who are you writing for?
4) Which voice do you want this written in?
5) Am I happy to do this even if it’s not a best seller? Or published by a major publishing house? Or I have to self-publish?
6) If I could only tell six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflectionss, which ones would they be?
7) Why do those six stories/scenarios/scenes or reflections stand out? Are they linked?

ps It’s quite normal to change your answers as you venture along the writing track.

I hope this helps.
Remember, nearly every book, whether for the family or the wider world, starts as an idea and a blank page!