If you’re a regular Writing Through Life reader, you know that, in addition to the Weekly Journaling Prompts, I also write and teach about Journaling for Memoir. Recently, I guest blogged on the topic for NAMW and Sharon Lippincott’s site, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. I also post monthly blogs in the Journaling category of womensmemoirs.com. So I’m always interested in articles and blog posts about the integration of journaling and memoir.
Jeff Rasley’s recent article on Indies Unlimited about Memoir Writing from Diary to Publishable Piece makes some good points. He writes about how to use your journal as a resource for experiences, lessons learned, and insights that might be of interest or valuable to others.
Essential to making a memoir interesting and worthy of publication is to have a central theme that carries the narrative forward. Without a thematic narrative, we are back to mere observation or a random collection of insights without a guiding light. The narrative must include factual details to make it interesting. A point made in the abstract is likely to be forgotten as soon as the reading device is turned off.
Suzanne Sherman’s recent Q & A article about shaping memoir (on Story Circle Network’s Telling Herstories blog) gives excellent advice for getting started, using timelines and honing in on the emotional turning points of your life. What better place than your journal to explore these topics?
And finally, a 2010 blog post by Jerry Waxler, of Memory Writers Network, captures the difference between journaling and memoir writing, as well as how journaling can contribute to the memoir writing process:
Of course, informal [journal] writing had its advantages. During those relaxed sessions, I was able to catch my inner critics off guard, allowing me to engage my psyche in an authentic discussion. I didn’t want to give that up. And it turned out, I didn’t need to. On the contrary, memoir writing has become a natural extension of my earlier experience. Now, instead of letting my mind roam wherever it wants, I simply direct it towards particular situations. Once I start thinking about a scene, I am back in journal writing mode, allowing words to flow freely.
I would love to hear from you. How do you use journaling for essay writing and memoir?