blog memoir

You should write a book!

Have you ever thought of publishing your story?

Wow, other people should really hear what you’ve been through.

Have you heard these words? Perhaps you’ve survived cancer, divorce, or the death of a child. Or maybe you’ve stepped out of poverty into prosperity. Out of depression into a life of happiness. If so, then someone has likely insisted that you write a book.

But should you? Should you really?

Yes.

And no.

Allow us to offer some advice from established authors who know a thing or two about the world of publishing:

1. Don’t write because you think it is the only way to tell your story

Christian author Nancy Guthrie offers this counsel in her post People say I should write a book. Should I?

I think the biggest question is this: Is writing a book the only, the best, or the most natural way for you to be a good steward of this experience so that God might use it in the lives of others?   It is for a few people. For others, there are other ways that are a far better fit with their personality, their strengths, and the opportunities presented to them.

2. Don’t write your story if the rejection will deepen your pain

Again we look to Ms. Guthrie:

When the book is about loved ones who have died, we want to extend their lives and give meaning to their deaths by seeing their story in print, so when a publisher isn’t interested, it can feel like another death, and certainly another deep disappointment, a sense that we have failed in extending their impact.

3. Do write your story once you are a proficient memoir writer

Simply having a story to tell does not mean that you are equipped to tell it through the written word. Writing is a gift and talent that is separate from your life-changing experience. Only those who have become proficient as memoir writers should attempt to get their story published.

Literary agent Rachel Gardner offers this advice in her post Telling Your Personal Story:

Create a reading plan for yourself. Set a goal for the next year or so of reading at least 20 good memoirs and 5 books about writing memoir.

Begin to craft your book. After you’ve spent months (or years) writing down the stories of your life and learning about the craft of memoir, you’ll be ready to start putting those stories together and creating a cohesive manuscript — your memoir. That may take many more months. You’ll want to get feedback on it from some readers, perhaps join a critique group, and do as many revisions as necessary to make your memoir shine.

4. Do write your story once you are in a healthy place

While it may be cathartic to write a memoir as a form of therapy, doing so will not produce the caliber of writing needed to get published.

Ange de Lumiere, who works as a book coach, advises:

When I wrote the book about my father dying, I did expect to be taken back to the emotions that I felt when he was given one month to live. But I was grateful that I had done a lot of work on myself so that it was not too painful.

I wasn’t writing for the sake of sharing my pain; I had a message to share, which is that death is not the end. My book’s purpose is to show that there is another way to see death and to start a revolution in the way we approach it. So it is very important to be clear about the purpose of your memoir and to allow yourself to be vulnerable and authentic.

The truth is that there is much more to writing a memoir than many would imagine. At Certa Publishing, we endeavor to prepare our authors to navigate the unique struggles of each genre. If you are considering putting your story on paper, we would be happy to come alongside you in the process. Contact us today.

Why you should (and should not) write a memoir

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