Since I have been reading a lot of memoir, I have been thinking about how you write a memoir. I have been an obsessive journaler since I was thirteen. In my early twenties I wanted to do something more than just journal. A writing mentor introduced me to Natalie Goldberg’s WRITING DOWN THE BONES and I was hooked. I didn’t know there were books about writing books!
The most important thing I learned from this book was to get in the habit of writing every day in my writer’s notebook. This is the first tool in your toolkit. So, I set the goal that I was going to write in my notebook for ten minutes every day. Soon, I discovered that I was writing for thirty minutes every day. My notebook turned into notebooks! These notebooks gave me the building blocks that I needed to translate messy journal passages into thoughtful, personal essays (more on that, later). If you are interested in starting a writing practice or enriching your journaling process, check out these books from our catalogue.
WRITING DOWN THE BONES
By Natalie Goldberg
This is the book that started it all. Goldberg is full of energy and excitement. Go get a notebook! Sit down! Breathe! Write! But she doesn’t leave you hanging. Every chapter is about an aspect of writing. Say you want more help with wordiness; she has a chapter for that. Maybe you have writer’s block; there’s a chapter for that. You can either read straight through, or focus on different aspects of your writing.
THE RIGHT TO WRITE
By Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron’s first book THE ARTIST’S WAY introduces the idea of morning pages. That you roll out of bed and walk over to your desk and write for thirty minutes to an hour. In this book , every chapter introduces a myth that we have been taught about writing and ways to give away those myths and keep writing. Then she gives an invitation to write. These prompts are really fun and insightful. I really enjoyed them.
THE WRITER’S IDEA BOOK
By Jack Heffron
If you want practical advice and prompts for what to write about, this is your book. Building off the ideas that you will see in Cameron and Goldberg, Heffron gives you pages and pages of writing prompts that range from the tender to the hysterical (you wake up and find a clown in your room, what do you do?)
BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE
By Anne Lamott
Lamott weaves stories of her childhood throughout solid, step by step writing advice. She is inspiring in her advice to get the first draft out in your notebook and then build from there. She also encourages you to keep your heart and your eyes open because writing is everywhere and anywhere and always within us.
ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT
By Stephen King
Don’t be scared. This book is amazing. For those who love King’s stories, he does talk about how he wrote his books; for those who are a leery, he focuses on the tools of the craft more than the scary details of his demented tales. King’s biggest piece of advice is to read. Read, read, read. “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t the time or the tools to write.”