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  • Freewrite regularly. Don’t take your pen off the paper—write quickly and freely.
  • Write your truth for 20 minutes every day.
  • Tune out the critic. Or work with it: write down what it says and answer it back. Create a dialogue where your creative voice has the last word.
  • Discover the source of the critic—parental voices, teachers, or society.
  • Write stories about the origin of that negative, critical voice.
  • Go back and forth between the dark and the light stories in your life.
  • Use the timeline to help organize and structure your stories.
  • Write vignettes—don’t worry about a whole story or book.
  • Research the background, setting, and history of the times and places you are writing about.
  • Fictionalize as needed to create scenes and story flow.
  • Use photos to help you remember. Write what happened before and after the photo was taken.
  • Write the untold stories of your mother, father, grandparents.
  • You can heal the past of your ancestors through writing the truth and letting it go.
  • Write about the future. Studies show that writing positive stories is healing too.

Be Your Best Writing Pal

  • Nurture your writing self. Give yourself a “writing date,” like a coffee date at a café. Enjoy your coffee while you write. Turn off your phone and the Internet.
  • Alice Miller, a psychologist who specializes in healing abuse, talks about how we need a “Compassionate Witness” to help us heal. Your writing group is a way to have your past and your dark and light stories be witnessed.
  • Join organizations that support writers.
  • Go to book readings to hear how authors get their work done.
  • Join a writing group that respects memoir and true stories.
  • Protect your writing from intrusion. Treat it like a tender, young plant.

The National Association of Memoir Writers

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