Memoir Writing Tip: Motivational Technique

by Matilda Butler on May 2, 2017

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #236 – Memoir Writing Tips – Matilda Butler



Try This Memoir Writing Motivational Tip

I recently read an amazing statistic. Since Fitbit introduced its first fitness tracker, the millions of users using it have walked more than 23.2 trillion steps. First of all, that number is incredible. Second, I wonder why so many steps? It turns out that tracking physical activity provides its own motivation. And with greater motivation a person is eager to become even more fit and hence walk more steps.

It certainly works for me. When I go out on my daily (well, almost daily) walk, I always measure the number of steps. The software I use isn’t a Fitbit, but an app on my iPhone. Not only does it keep track of steps, it also converts the steps into miles and lets me know how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed. I can look at the day-to-day changes, look at the past week, the past month, etc. When I see a drop in activity, I know it’s time to renew my walking plan of action.

Get Fit With Your Memoir Writing: Try This

Motivation for Memoir WritingHere’s a suggestion. Keep track of how many words you write each time you sit down to work. All word processing software lets you highlight a section of text and it will report on the number of words. Keep a small notebook by your work area and write down the daily total along with the date.

Prefer to work by the clock? Write down the date and how long you wrote. Add data each day that you write.

Before you know it, you’ll have your own statistics. 10,000 words in a month? 20 hours in a month?

Set your own goals and then measure your progress.

Here’s what a few other writers say are their daily goals:

3000 Words, Anne Rice
3000 Words, Anthony Trollope
3000 Words, Arthur Conan Doyle
2500 Words, Maya Angelou
2000 Words, Stephen King
1500 Words, Jack London
1500 Words, Susan Wittig Albert (Founder of Story Circle Network and author of several New York Times Bestselling series)

I’ve left out one well-known author who wrote much less per day:
500 Words, Ernest Hemingway

And then there is always the famous James Joyce story. One day a friend asked him if he’d had a good day writing. He smiled and said “Yes.” When asked how much he had written, he responded, “Three sentences.”

So whether you write three sentences or 3000 words, I suggest you try tracking your progress, your writing fitness, as your log just may be the motivational force that keeps you moving forward.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Gabriel May 29, 2017 at

Dear Matilda – People have been telling me for years I should write my memoir. I do have stories I want to tell..about growing up, about surviving a stroke, about living solo, etc. Who would be interested in such memoirs? I have just finished my first novel called “Shooting from the Heart” which will be published by Balboa Press in a few months. Can you give me some guidance re: short story memoirs or longer ones? Thank you.

Matilda Butler June 1, 2017 at

Hi Melissa:
Good question. There are many varieties of memoir and all have their place. Short story memoirs appeal to some writers and some readers. Others prefer to write a continuous narrative with a powerful arc. These approaches, as well as others (graphic memoir, for example) can all work. You need to look at the story elements you want to capture and then see what is best for you. The most important aspect of memoir writing is to dig deeply into your story and give your readers an engaging and honest look at your life experiences.
Best wishes to you.

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