While attending a genealogy conference, I participated in several sessions on writing family stories. I came out energized and even more motivated than before. In several quickwrites, I was able to overcome the block that had me buffaloed for some time, how to organize and structure my memoir. It was suddenly clear that I could begin with a number of significant issues/events and didn't have to write it according to a timeline. It made a huge difference in getting me going instead of being stuck.
The other thing I got, was the suggestion that I find a writing group to join. That advice was gold!
IT GETS YOU WRITING The group met monthly and each participant brought something to be discussed. That meant you had a date certain by which you have to have something written. We e-mailed our work to each other a few days ahead. This way we had time to look it over and give it some thought. It was sometimes as little as 3 pages and as much as a whole chapter.
The First month, I wrote 3 pages the night before.
The second month I wrote 5 pages, also the night before.
By the third month, I was off to the races.
YOU GET AN AUTHENTIC AUDIENCE REACTION
You can tell very quickly if your audience is engaged or bored or confused. When you're engrossed in your writing and know what you're trying to communicate, it's easy to think it's there...in black and white. The first month, the reaction to my words was rapt...but confused. It was about the Holocaust. The second month, I wrote more clearly but I could tell that it didn't pack the same emotional wallop. The third month, I deliberately tried to integrate the two and it was awesome! When your audience sees or hears it first hand in a small group, you understand more clearly if you've gotten across what you wanted to say.
IT HELPS WITH THE EDITS.
You can read what you write over and over and over again, and still not see some errors. You tend to see what you expect to be there because you know what you meant to say. Also, some of the other team members have particular skills that complement those of others in the group.
In our group, we have writers particularly skilled in descriptive verse, in writing good dialogue, in grammar and punctuation. Some are lifelong experts in research and genealogy. As story-tellers, the whole of the group is greater than its parts!
IT OFFERS ENCOURAGEMENT
That too is worth gold! Each member of the group appreciates what's involved in writing. They understand and care about each other as people and as writers.
IT GETS RESULTS!
Here are a few books that came out of our little local writing group. All are available for purchase on Fastpencil.com If you're a writer or want to be, let me pass on the same advice that I got. Join a writing group. By Barbara Anne WarrenBOOKS FOR ALL, THE GOLD THIMBLE
By Anne Tetley Butcher TOWNFOLK
By Helen Buske Wyers AN OKIE SPROUT
By Sara Borczuk Applebaum LOST AND FOUND,A Family Memoir, POMORSKA STREET