Every article relating to:

Writing Prompts

Happy New Year! A Deeper Way to Engage Your Writing Group

by Matilda Butler on January 1, 2016

Writing Prompt LogoPost #224 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler

Welcome to 2016

2016 memoir blogIt’s time to celebrate. Out with the old. In with the new. And take a fresh look at your life and your writing.

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? For many years now I have spent a quiet New Year’s Eve with my life partner, sitting side by side on a comfy sofa in our living room with a composition book in hand. We each talk through our resolutions for the coming year and then write them down. Sometimes we make suggestions for the other person.

For this Women’s Memoirs blog, I have often crafted a set of resolutions for writers to consider. But this year I decided to offer instead a different perspective on writing in the memoir genre and how to use a writing group.

Memoir Writing Can Go Deeper With the Help of Your Writing Group

Last year, I was reading about the Inklings, the small group of writers who regularly met to share their writing and get critiques, and perhaps more importantly, to explore their genre. The Inklings were (primarily) J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. These four met each week at the University of Oxford. Yes, they were an all male group, although it is sometimes (inaccurately) said that Dorothy L. Sayers was a member of the group.

The lives of these four men have been recently illuminated in a new book by Carol and Philip Zaleski. The book is The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. James Parker reviewed the book in the September 15, 2015 issue of “The Atlantic”.

It was two of Parker’s comments that helped me see that there can be an additional dimension to writing and critique groups that is often underplayed or ignored. Parker wrote that the time these four men spent in their critique group “redoubled commitment to the world behind the world.” It seems that while the writers read aloud from their ongoing efforts, they also talked about the what and the why of their genre. He goes on to mention: “In the intensity of their communion, their accelerating effect upon one another, and their impact on posterity, …”

We sometimes forget the accelerating effect we can have on one another in our writing groups. We often alternate between the personal (what’s going on in our lives) and the specific critiquing of a piece of writing. We neglect to talk about our genre, to seek different points of view on how memoir is best handled, or perspectives on drawing out the most from a life story.

So whether you are in a writing/critique group or not, consider this:

#1. The Inklings talked about how to create the “world behind the world.” Memoirists have different issues and considerations–what is truth, how to find more historical details to add to the story, what can be revealed and what does not seem appropriate, what is a good balance between “happy talk” and the “darker side of the story.” Etc. Talk with your writing/critique group about beginning discussions of the genre of memoir.

#2. Come to your next group meeting with one or two questions that you can all discuss. No one knows the answers. But by exploring topics that are important to the memoir genre, you will have an opportunity to figure out your well-reasoned personal answer.

#3. Take turns at future meetings so that one person brings a couple of specific questions and others can bring up any issues they are thinking about.

#4. Don’t belong to a writing/critique group? Then come up with your personal list of questions and use the Internet to explore what other writers of memoir have said about these topics. Sometimes you will disagree; sometimes you may agree. Use the time to think deeply about your chosen genre. Then with opinions and facts in hand, you can decide where you stand on these issues. Memoir is about more than your personal story. It is about the genre within which you have decided to tell that story.

Happy New Year. I hope that 2016 will be a fulfilling year for you.

{ 0 comments }

Writing Prompt: What a Knee Replacement Teaches Us About Writing Prompts

by Matilda ButlerDecember 8, 2015
Writing Prompt: What a Knee Replacement Teaches Us About Writing Prompts

Matilda Butler shares an unusual look at memoir writing prompts. Then try her physical exercise/writing exercise combos.

Read the full article →

Why Use Details? Thoughts for Memoir Writers

by Matilda ButlerDecember 1, 2015
Why Use Details? Thoughts for Memoir Writers

Matilda Butler turns to Laurie R. King to investigate the value of details in memoir writing.

Read the full article →

5 Tips for Getting Your Memoir Published in 2016

by Pamela JaneNovember 10, 2015
5 Tips for Getting Your Memoir Published in 2016

Pamela Jane shares her wisdom and insights on getting your memoir published.

Read the full article →

More on Story Structure for Memoir Writers

by Matilda ButlerNovember 3, 2015
More on Story Structure for Memoir Writers

A sight in Hawaii brought to light a new way to think about memoir story structure.

Read the full article →

Memoir Writers: Win a Free Copy of FAMILIES by Jan Marquart and Stretch Your Writing Goals

by Matilda ButlerOctober 27, 2015
Memoir Writers: Win a Free Copy of FAMILIES by Jan Marquart and Stretch Your Writing Goals

Women’s Memoirs is delighted to welcome Jan Marquart as she talks about cross-writing. Be sure to leave a comment and you just might win a copy of her new book for children–Can You Find My Love?: Families. This is a perfect gift for your young child, grandchild, or even great grandchild.

Read the full article →

Developing Character in Memoir: 5 Essential Tips

by Pamela JaneOctober 13, 2015
Developing Character in Memoir: 5 Essential Tips

Pamela Jane shares her top five writing tips about characters in memoirs. It’s the story, of course, but characters bring it to life. Be sure to check out her writing prompts as well. They will help you put her tips into practice.

Read the full article →
Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category