Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Be Fearless: Overcoming our Fears of Writing Memoir

I run to the bathroom choking on my tears!  How could I be reacting this way?  My best friend, who has been trying to conceive for months, has just shared her great news that she is safely into her second trimester!  I should be ecstatic for her, joining in on her celebration of the life growing inside of her; but it’s all I can do to keep from losing the avocado eggrolls we just ate. 

How do I do this?  How do I honor my dear friend’s happiness while coming to terms with the loss of my dream of becoming a mother?  Miscarriage after miscarriage, resulting in my divorce at thirty-six, has left me hopeless, fearing I will never become a mom. 

Everywhere I go, I am reminded of my failings, my inability to have a child; watching mommies play with their children at the beach, strolling past families picnicking at the park, bumping into strollers as we navigate the same, narrow grocery store aisles.  And now, my best friend, whom I have turned to for comfort time and time again, to whom I have provided comfort in return, is one of those painful reminders. 

After a short time in the stall, I wipe my eyes, splash my face with frigidly cold water, and go back out to rejoice in my friend’s pregnancy because, really, what other choice is there?”

Writing memoir is a reflection of who we are; it is the acceptance and celebration of the person we used to be, even in those darkest of moments.  When we write, we open ourselves up from the inside, sharing our inner-most feelings and emotions.  We are forced to remember the very same experiences we have tried so hard to forget!    
Because of the intimacy involved, writing memoir can be a difficult journey to embark on.  The fear of being ridiculed or rejected, that our feelings will not be validated, or that the person we were ashamed of will be exposed, paralyzes us in our writing.  But, if you can overcome these fears, writing memoir can be transformational!  Through the act of writing, you can celebrate who you are by validating who you were.

If you have been wanting to write memoir but have found it hard to begin, here are some insights that have helped me face my fears along my memoir journey:

1.       Begin with one single line; this first step will give you the courage to continue.

2.      Writing is a craft and, like any art form, takes time to perfect; be patient with yourself as you tend to it.

3.      Create a quiet, comfortable place to write, somewhere you enjoy being; this will motivate you to want to write.

4.      Writing is much like exercising, the more you do it, the stronger you become, so exercise that muscle every single day.

5.      Set smaller, more measurable goals for yourself; aim for 200, 500, or 1,000 words per day.  These “little” successes build your confidence.

6.      Don’t begin at the beginning; weave your story like a basket, over and under and revisiting places you’ve already been.

7.      Write with all five senses; this will help you discover new perspectives.

8.      If you are having trouble starting, create a visual story board by first sketching your memories.

9.      Writing helps you remember; give yourself permission to just write and don’t worry about the correctness of what you are writing.

10.  Write fearlessly, passionately and honestly, like no one else is reading!

11.    And remember, every life has a story worthy of sharing, worthy of being preserved through writing, even if you are the only person to ever read it!

How do you face your fear of putting pencil to paper in your quest to honor your memories?  Share with us your writing successes in the comments section below!

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