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Yes, it’s still NaNoWriMo month and perhaps many of you have taken the challenge to write 50,000 words this month! Fast words, no inner critic allowed, words that grab the memories and mind-photos, words that express your voice and who you are. It’s the 14th day at NaNo WriMo, and you could still join and get a lot done. 50,000 words is 6.5 pages a day. All you have to do if you join now is 13 pages a day! If you are on vacation or are not working right now, it’s a great opportunity to blow through a lot of writing.

When writing fast, you don’t have time for

  • Doubts and worries about family and friends’ criticism of your story.
  • Guilt about revealing family secrets. This version is just for you!
  • Your inner critic—those negative comments that roam around in your head.
  • Perfectionism—keep writing and change grammar and spelling after you’re done.
  • Editing—if a scene is in the wrong place, you can change it later. Use real names in your first drafts.


Last week at our Roundtable discussion, Nina Amir talked about creating her own challenge over at Nonfiction Writing in November. Get something finished this month—an essay, an article, a poem. You will feel happy that you completed something, and you can move on to a new piece. Denis LeDoux created National Lifewriting Month to celebrate the importance of personal story writing. He says that a memoir is like an iceberg: most of it is not visible. We need to get the words on the page so we can see what we have.


Tips to help you capitalize on your experience at MemoirWriMo or NaNoWriMo:


  1. First, is the prewriting stage. Before you start, think about what you want to write about—the theme or point of your stories.
  2. What’s the message that you want to get across in your memoir?
  3. List 5-10 important “characters” you want to include. Of course, these are the real people in your life in a memoir. If you use their real names, you’ll write about them with more focus and emotion.
  4. Be sure to write portraits of them—you can do them one at a time and incorporate them later into the story.
  5. Make a timeline for your story—where does it begin and end? A memoir typically is not your whole life—it’s a slice of your life or a theme you explore.
  6. List 10-20 Turning Points—significant moments in your life. Your plot and timeline can revolve around these.
  7. Write each of these moments, and more if you remember them. Get them on the page.


Join SheWrites to celebrate SheWriMo. I have a blog post there too.

Start writing—now!

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