Learn the inner and outer dimensions of memoir writing

by Jerry Waxler

I have been a fan of Linda Joy Myers ever since I read her memoir “Don’t Call Me Mother.” (Also see my essay “Mothers and Daughters Don’t Always Mix“) The book was straightforward and elegant, transforming a painful past into a compelling story. When I reached out to learn more about how she wrote it, she explained that writing the memoir was itself a journey that lasted more than a decade. During that period, she developed a more sophisticated understanding of her own childhood and at the same time learned the craft of storytelling.

Linda Joy wanted to share these benefits with others so she offered memoir writing workshops and then started the National Association of Memoir Writers, an organization that offers courses, teleseminars, support, and other benefits to aspiring memoir writers everywhere.

I already knew that Linda Joy brings compassion and insight to the memoir field, so I was eager to read her new book “The Power of Memoirs, Writing Your Healing Story.” The book covers the basics of scene and plot to help writers weave the skein of events into a story worth reading. It also offers valuable tips for writers you won’t find in other books, such as insight into the knack of accepting feedback from a critique group, in my opinion one of the most important tools any writer can have.

And then, Linda Joy goes beyond craft and turns inward towards the heart of the matter. As a professional psychotherapist, Linda Joy helps her clients work through their memories. In this book, she performs a similar service for aspiring memoir writers. In hefty, substantive chapters like “Psychology of Memoir Writing,” “The Dark Stuff,” and “The Power of Writing to Heal” Linda Joy provides excellent guidance to help you decipher your memories and bring them to the page.

Families matter

A key goal of a memoir is to portray other characters in your life. This can be especially complex when trying to explain parents, grandparents, and siblings who were influencing you while you were under construction. They are part of you. And so, the more you understand those relationships the better you understand yourself. “The Power of Memoir” offers tips about how to write about family. By seeing them through the eyes of a writer, you will gain fresh perspectives and piece together a more sensible story about your family than the one that was shapelessly tangled in memory.

Spirituality

I have been searching for years to find language to express the spirituality of life. Linda Joy’s “Power of Memoir” contains a superb section about this topic. When writing a memoir, we review our past and explore the way we were influenced by our higher power, our religious framework, and other aspects of the inner connections known broadly as “spirituality.”

However, the past is not the only time frame at work here. You actually write the memoir in the present, a journey that both require spiritual strength and generates it. Linda Joy lovingly offers guidance that fosters this connection with the inner self, to help you get in touch with spirituality right here and now.

Psychology Research

While many authors and teachers observe the healing nature of memoir writing, these observations do not constitute the kind of scientific research that would support its use as a form of therapy. To find such evidence, Linda Joy turns to the research of psychologist James Pennebaker from the University of Texas who has spent his academic career studying this question. His research offers a fascinating look at the emotional benefits of writing. Linda Joy also cites brain imaging research that offers additional evidence for these benefits.

This book will help you write yours

So whether you want to write your memoir because you are curious about yourself, or you want to heal old hurts, or you want to share your journey with other people, or you want to strengthen your brain, or you consider writing to be a wonderful hobby, or you wish to publish a book and enter the stream of culture – for any of these reasons, you will benefit from traveling in Linda Joy’s company while discovering the Healing Power of your own memoir.

Home page for Power of Memoir

Click here to read my essay about Linda Joy’s Memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother

“Don’t Call Me Mother” Amazon Link

Click for my essay about Linda Joy’s Memoir

Read an interview with Linda Joy Myers here.

More memoir writing resources

To see brief descriptions and links to all the essays on this blog, click here.

To order my short, step-by-step how-to guide to write your memoir, click here.

4 thoughts on “Learn the inner and outer dimensions of memoir writing

  1. I love the paragraphs about family and spirituality. Those are interesting topics to write about without mixing perspectives between the now and then. Thanks for this great post.

  2. Thanks, Travelinoma. I used to think spirituality was a hidden concept that people don’t talk about. It seems that over the years, the word spirituality has increasing appeal. It’s one of the pleasures of my age that over the decades I see an occasional uplifting trend in culture and it makes me happy to be living through this trend now. Jerry

  3. Jerry, I have to read Linda Joy’s “Power of memoir.” book at least two more times to retain the substance in my brain. Families matter a lot, the elders leave their prints on the next generations. Some habits could be bad (like being obsessive and very strict), and it is hard to stop them. That bothers me. Spirituality is the core in many lives. It pulls the person out when the calamities try to put you under. Sometimes that trust in God..the blind faith. is the only thing the person has .

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