So You’ve Been Told, “You Should Write A Book!” What Now?

Dear Readers,

Have you ever been told, “You should write a book!”? Thought about accepting this challenge?

This morning I received an inquiry from a gentleman who has–& is finding it not so easy. He wrote:

I’ve been told by a number of people that I should write a book about my life experiences. I can write but have found there’s a huge difference in being able to write and being a writer! (Jenna’s comment: True, dat.) I have so many life experiences that I have a hard time putting them together so they “flow”. I know others who’ve had authors tell their story. I’ve written a synopsis but am overwhelmed with more. I need help! Thank you for any guidance you may have 🙂

Does this sound like you?

If so, I hope my response helps.

Dear Overwhelmed,

Thanks for writing to me. I’m glad you’ve written a synopsis–that always helps provide a backbone for your story. At this point, my best advice to you would be to identify the “so what?”, the central idea of your memoir. You may have many hundreds of fascinating life experiences–being a bullfighter, being the child of a pyromaniac, being a heart surgeon to the stars. But which one are you going to write about, and why?

You must choose ONE guiding principle–

I will CUT you

–because identifying what you want MOST to write about will be your organizational filter. It will help you sieve out the parts of your story that are not relevant to *that* story. (And you can use  them for your other stories.)

I expanded on this idea for Grub Street Daily’s Friday Five-O advice column a couple of years back. (You might have to sign up for Grub Daily to read the whole thing–but since you are writing, you should do that anyway; the Daily is full of invaluable advice!) Please click here: “SO WHAT? THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE TO YOUR MEMOIR.”

Thanks for giving me an excuse to cite myself. That always makes it a good day.

Good luck to you, sir! Write on!

And happy memoir-writing to you all!




2 Responses to So You’ve Been Told, “You Should Write A Book!” What Now?

  1. Dear Sue,

    I’m so glad my advice was helpful! We all need a polestar when we’re writing, especially in the later drafts when we’ve already told ourselves what the story is and are now shaping it for our readers.

    Write on!

    Jenna. x

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