Memoir Writing Tip: Don’t Workout, Train

by Matilda Butler on April 25, 2012

catnav-alchemy-activePost #40 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Memoir Writing as Exercise

Have your seen the advice to “Train, Don’t Workout?” It is making the rounds on various exercise websites. Most of the time the author means this literally. But since I view the world through memoir-tinted glasses, I quickly saw that the advice could be as useful to memoir writers as to athletes. After all, we all strive to be word champions.

The point of the mantra is that a person in training has a long-term performance goal in mind. The person who regularly engages in workouts is inclined to repeat the same exercise over and over without real concern for improvement. It’s more a matter of just getting it done.

How Can a Memoir Writer Use This Advice?

Memoir writers, of course, prefer improvement over repetition. But do we really see ourselves in training? Do you write some days but don’t make it part of your regular life routine? Do you find a great writing prompt and dash off a few paragraphs only to forget why you spent time on it? Do you work on dialogue one day and wander off to work on character development the next day without really training yourself day after day — staying with the same writing element until you can see improvement?

Women’s Memoirs Has a Solution

We have a suggestion that will make it easy for you to get into the mode of memoir training. In addition, for the coming week, we have a special reduced price — much less than you’d pay for a gym membership and no recurring fees. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist keeping the metaphor going.)

Our StoryMap: The Neverending Writing Prompt ™ is a beautiful 11 x 17 map of the fictive town of Five Points, Oklahoma. The store owners (think characters), establishments (think creative ideas) and locations (think time and place) are just some of writing elements in StoryMap. You’ll even find hints of the five senses and some dialogue embedded in the map.

Here’s how you can turn StoryMap into your memoir training program. Start out with a once-a-week program. Let’s just say that Saturday is your day to train. Get out your StoryMap (we have lots of people who say they keep it on their desk or on the cork board right over their desk) and suddenly you’re in the fictive town of Five Points.

Consider This Sample Memoir Training Program

Month 1, Week 1: For the first month of your memoir writing training program, focus on character development. Look around Five Points and see who interests you. Write a story about that person emphasizing physical characteristics and relationships to a few others in the town.

Month 1, Week 2: Begin with the same person in last week’s training. But go deeper this time. Get into her background — her education, where she grew up, what her parents were like, her current economic status. But do all of this within the context of a Five Points story. Her background will help explain her current actions and perhaps even her obsessions.

Month 1, Week 3: Now your goal is in sight. Your training is beginning to pay off. You already know much more about your protagonist. This week craft a fun story that lets you dig into her (or his) personality. Is she primarily an extravert or an introvert? How does she make decisions? Maybe she looks into all the options before making up her mind or maybe she treats decisions like a to-do list and just sees to it that she checks them off as quickly as possible. Now you’re really exercising. Your goal, to develop fully a character, is getting near.

Month 1, Week 4: Round out this first month of memoir training by writing a fourth story about your protagonist. This time, delve into her need type as that will influence her motivations and therefore her actions. Henry Murray, the well-known social scientist, spent his life researching needs. There are five major ones including ambition and affection and each of the five have several related needs. For this week’s training, assume that your character is high on the ambition need and high on the affection need. Now create a situation where her behavior is motivated by these two needs. As you train, examine how she would behave differently if she had a high need for ambition but a low need for affection.

[You may be thinking: “personality type?” “Henry Murray?” Kendra and I bring you the best research from the social sciences to help you become better writers and we’ve put all of it in our new book, Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep. We’ve based the book on a revolutionary new writing process that will change the way you write forever.]

Congratulations. If you already are one of our many readers who has StoryMap, then you are well on your way to your training goal of writing more believable characters.

Eager to get started on your memoir training program but don’t have your own copy of StoryMap: The Neverending Writing Prompt? Don’t worry, we have a SPECIAL OFFER that is good for this week only. StoryMap is regularly $19.97. Because we want you to start your own Memoir Training Program with as little expense as possible, we’re offering StoryMap for just $12 (plus shipping). That’s a gigantic 40% discount.

Just click on the link below. Then enter STORYMAP12 in the box for the coupon code. This special offer goes away May 2, so be sure to take advantage of it right away. UPDATE: WE ARE EXTENDING THIS OFFER UNTIL MAY 8.

Want To Know More How to Use StoryMap?

Our soon to be released book — Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep — is the perfect complement to StoryMap. Each chapter of Writing Alchemy shows you how to dig deeply and effectively into the five elements of writing — character, emotions, dialogue, sensory detail, time and place. Read a chapter — even a section of a chapter — and then put what you’ve learned into your training practice.

This is a winning combination.

Get Your Winning Combination for a Special Price, This Week Only

During this week (April 25-May 2) you can get both StoryMap and Writing Alchemy for just $27 plus shipping. Writing Alchemy is available for a pre-publication price of $15 but will soon go to its full price of $24.95. UPDATE: THIS OFFER IS NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH MAY 8.

StoryMap is usually $19.97 and Writing Alchemy is $24.95 for a total price of $44.92. You can get both, this week only, for just $27. Take advantage of this special, limited- time offer — a huge 40% off.

Just click on the link below the picture. StoryMap will be automatically added to your shopping cart. Below it you will be given the option of adding Writing Alchemy at the pre-publication price of $15.

Be sure to enter the coupon code: STORYMAP12 and click on Apply Coupon.

StoryMap, memoir writing, storytelling
StoryMap: The Neverending Writing Prompt

Just interested in Writing Alchemy? Perhaps you already have StoryMap. If so, just click on the link below:

Writing Alchemy: How to Write Fast and Deep

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