November 11, 2020

Is writing a book like moving this boulder to you? You do
both one step at a time.

Introductory exercise:

We started the Veterans’ Day class with a time of writing dedicated to our veterans and their families. If you couldn’t be with us, I suggest you might want to do this exercise to honor the veterans that you know.

Imagine you are a veteran or related to a veteran. Then imagine you are standing in a park at a service to honor veterans. You watch as a 12-year-old boy plays taps, and a stiff breeze whips the American flag straight out in the air. Then a former Marine stands up to speak.

Think about what you see, what you feel, and what memories surface. All we want now is a glimpse of what is running through your mind as you stand there. Write for five minutes. Share your memory. If you are going to be back with us next week, bring it along.

Assignment for next week:

  1. Write a two page story of your life, being sure to include the most significant influences and events.
  2. Then write another two page story of your life that focuses on a thread, rather than being comprehensive.
  3. I encourage you to spend no more than 90 minutes for each paper in actual writing time -just letting the writing flow.
  4. You might spend a day or two thinking about the first paper before you sit down and write it. Then as it sits, before you edit it, do the same thing in preparation for writing the second paper. Collect ideas. Then the next day, write it. Bring both papers to class.
  5. Read them out loud several times before you bring them to class. Select parts of the papers or one whole paper, or a total of five minutes of reading to share in class.

Creative Writing Notes

If you want to publish a book, you have to develop an audience to buy your book. You do that by building a platform – a tool you use to promote yourself and sell your writing. Your writing platform proves your ability as a writer to promote and sell your books. It shows a publisher or agent that you have name recognition and a vehicle to promote your book and you, the writer. Think social media: facebook or blogs, for example.

  1. Publishing stories is one way to get your name and work out there.
  2. Blogging is another way, and we will look at that next.
  3. Facebook or other types of social media are other places where you can connect with readers, and buyers.
  4. The point is you must get your name out there.

Why You Should Start Blogging

Here are the some of the biggest reasons why I think YOU should should start blogging immediately.

1. Attracts an Audience: Blogging enables you to reach the people who use the Internet. Blogging can help you promote yourself and your work. Blogging provides something of value to readers before asking for anything in return.

2. Establishes you as an Authority: Having a blog and writing about important topics relevant to your audience establishes you as an authority. A blog is to professionals in the 2000s what a business card was in the 1990s.

3. Build Rapport and Engagement: Blogging can convert your readers to book purchasers, or into opportunities to speak on the subject you are writing about.

4. Helps You to Organize Your Thoughts and Learn: Blogging forces you to teach yourself what you don’t know and to articulate what you do know. When you begin writing a blog post, you are forced to organize your thoughts and to learn more about your topic.

5. Tell Your Story: When you are writing about a topic of your own interest, you can decide how to portray a story, what information to include, and what information to exclude. Blogging allows you to ensure that all information included in the blog is factual.

WHAT BLOGGING DOES FOR YOU!

borrowed and adapted from Michael B. Fishbein

Here are the some of the biggest reasons why I think YOU should should start blogging immediately.

1. Attract an Audience: Blogging enables you to reach the billions of people that use the Internet. Blogging can help you promote yourself or your business. Blogging works as a method for attracting an audience because it provides something of value to them before asking for anything in return.

What would you rather click on, a page titled “How to Promote Your Blog“, or a page titled “Buy My Consulting Services”? By creating a blog that is of value, you can attract an audience and eventually convert them to customers, partners, friends, or otherwise.

2. Establish Authority: Having a blog and writing about important topics that are relevant to your audience establishes yourself as an authority in the space. It enhances your professional image. A blog is to professionals in the 2000s what a business card was in the 1990s. Blogs are the new business cards.

3. Build Rapport and Engagement: Blogging can convert traffic into leads and leads into customers. Blogging can “warm up” your cold calls and traffic from other sources. If someone receives your cold call, they may be more receptive if they’ve read your blog and received value from it.

4. Create Opportunities: Blogging can lead to other business/traffic generating opportunities. For example, speaking engagements or press. I’ve had people contact me to speak at conferences who found me through my blog. Blogging enables anyone with something interesting or valuable to say to be identified as an expert.

5. Organize Your Thoughts and Learn: Blogging forces you to teach yourself what you don’t know and to articulate what you do know. When you begin writing a blog post, you are forced to organize your thoughts. If there are any gaps in the topic that you are writing about, you will have to learn about it. Writing out and articulating your thoughts is a great way to internalize something you’ve learned or experienced. Writing helps you become more familiar with the topic you’re writing about.

6. Tell Your Story: Blogging enables you to be your own media company. You can tell your story the way you want to tell it without being dependent on journalists. When you are writing about a topic of your own interest, you can decide how to portray a story, what information to include, and what information to exclude. Blogging allows you to ensure that all information included in the blog is factual.

7. Meet New People: The audience you attract through blogging doesn’t have to just be your “audience.” They can become your friends, colleagues, partners, or lovers. I’ve had many people reach out to me directly after reading my blog. Some of those people have become friends or good business contacts.

8. Stand Out: According to “the 1 percent rule,” only 1 percent of Internet users actively create new content, while the other 99 percent of the participants simply view it. By blogging, you separate yourself from the 99 percent of people that don’t blog. Standing out is essential in an increasingly competitive economy.

8. Validate Expertise: Blogs are the new resumes. Blogging about a topic you would like to be viewed as an expert in, can illustrate to readers, employers, and your network, that you are are skilled and knowledgeable.

9. Make Money: It is true, you can “sell” space on your blog to merchandisers with a product to sell. BUT BE WARNED! You may not be able to control what is advertised or where it shows up on your blog. I chose not to monetize my blog because I wanted readers to get to the content without wading through all kinds of information or products they are not intersted in.

However, if you are a young mom writing to, or for, young moms, you may be able to monetize your blog in such a way that the only products advertised on your blog are products they want. When it comes time to make that choice, I encourage you to research it thoroughly before you “sign on the bottom line.”

Memoir Writers: Four ways you can organize your memoir

1. Chronologically — If you choose a chronological order, you organize your memoir in a way that most nearly replicates the sequence in which events happened.

I encourage you to develop a timeline of your life; think ten year periods. You might choose to make lists for each decade of your life and what happened during that period. Then go shopping for the most interesting or useful topics and events.

For example, what happened in your childhood is placed first in the narration, what happened in your youth is second, your middle-age, third; and so forth. If you organize all your stories in this way, there will be a natural continuum among them based on time connection. This is an easy organization for the reader to follow.

2. Subject — You might choose to put together everything about one relationship in one chapter and everything about another in a second chapter. This gives a clear account of your subject but omits interactions that might change the way we perceive a character. The collection of stories may seem disconnected unless you are intentional about the arrangement and tell your reader what you are doing.

3. Theme or themes — You might write about a specific theme that is of interest to you. In this way, your story might be a story about labor unions or about dedication to art. Everything is chosen or omitted according to how it develops your theme. This can make for a very focused book and can be a good way to organize your memoir.

Alternately, you can choose topics across the generations or among family members. These topics might include religion, careers, marriage, or interests. For example, you might look at how your family viewed work during your childhood. You might write about how your grandparents and your parents viewed the intersection between work and family life. Then you might consider other themes in their lives during your childhood: parenting, or faith or vacations.

Another possibility is to write about a theme in your grandparents’ lives and then go on to its appearance in your parents’ lives and then in yours and lastly in your children’s. You can choose to give an internal chronological development to each of your themes: start with youth and proceed to old age or the present with each generation. Then, as you organize your memoir, start the whole process over again with another theme.

4. Both chronology and theme — Although you may begin to write your pieces chronologically or thematically, you may find yourself combining both of these elements in your final product.

These approaches can easily be integrated into your life story as a whole.

One thought on “Creative Writing/ Memoir Class Notes

  1. Thanks Carol. And yes, sometimes it does feel as if my book is like a boulder… except that I could never ever move a boulder and I will… as you say “one stepo at a time” get that book poublished! Hope yours is moving along well!

    Best wishes for a happy holiday. Will you see your family? At this point, we’re expecting Diane and COlin to come for a couple of days. Fingers crossed!

    Love, Josette

    Like

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