The above quote from Maya Angelou is at the beginning of a book I published this year called Memoir Writing. How to Write a Story from Your Life. I'm writing my second memoir ... well I say writing but I haven't touched it for about 4-5 months. I hit some problems with the story and then other life events intervened.
Anyway she did give some tips which I sat down with yesterday evening. Well, questions rather than tips, which she asks her new clients before they even get started. She said they were extremely important to think about, and should be focused on before you even look at plot.
Firstly she gave a suggestion about keeping up the momentum. Writers work alone and are not (unless they have a conventional publisher breathing down their necks) accountable to anyone. Who cares how long your book takes to write? Her suggestion is to find an accountability partner, someone who is not focused on your narrative or design - just, 'have you finished chapter ten yet - you said you would finish it by today?'
I pondered the questions and wrote out the answers and they were enormously helpful and thought provoking. Having come to a dead end with my second memoir a few months ago, I realised that I didn't know where the story was going to end. Also it felt like the drama of the story had hit a dead end too, sort of petered out. Having focused on the answers to her questions, I have a whole new momentum and feel excited about the story again and why I'm writing it.
So here's the questions and for all you writers, I challenge you to apply them to your latest project and see what you come up with. The questions may seem obvious but ...
1. Why do you write? Why do you like to write?
2. What called you to write THAT story?
3. What do you want to capture in the story?
4. Why do you care?
5. What are you trying to convey in this book?
6. Why is the protagonist there? (not the surface reason) What do they want?
IT'S DEEPER THAN PLOT