How to Give Birth to a Memoir

memoirs productivity writing tips Sep 14, 2022
Give birth to a book

This summer, my two daughters-in-law gave birth to beautiful baby girls. I experienced everything from the thrill of my sons and their new wives announcing that they were expecting, to watching them grow over the course of 40 weeks, and then finally, wondrously, welcoming two perfect girls into the world. 

Writing a memoir is oddly similar to giving birth. Pregnancies last about 40 weeks. This is a reasonable amount of time to cook up a baby. It’s also a completely reasonable amount of time to write a book. Sadly, my memoir took me about seven years to write a complete draft. That’s 364 weeks! Trust me when I tell you, it doesn’t need to take—shouldn’t take—this long to write a memoir.

5 Tips for Giving Birth to Your Memoir

My memoir writing journey took so many twists and turns and stalls, many of which I could have avoided. I’ve learned a lot writing my own memoir versus editing other people’s stories. Here are five quick ways to help you keep your writing momentum going so you can conceive of and give birth to your memoir in 40 weeks (or less!):

1. Download my “7 Tips to Get Started Writing Your Life Story.” In this free PDF guide, you’ll find seven no-nonsense ways to get started writing your memoir and keep the writing momentum going.

2. Set your writing schedule based on your word count goal. Memoirs range from 40,000–80,000 words. To determine how much writing you need to do to complete a first draft of your memoir within, say, 40 weeks, divide your target word count by the number of weeks. For example:

60,000 words / 40 weeks = 1500 words per week

80,000 / 40 weeks = 2,000 words per week

Determine what your weekly writing rhythm will look like so you know how many words to write each time you sit down. When I finally got serious about finishing my memoir, I tried to write at least five days a week.

1500 words / 5 days = 300 words per day

If I had simply pre-determined my writing goals at the front end, I would have had a target to shoot for to help me stay on track. Instead, I meandered around in my memoir, writing when I felt like it and letting days, sometimes weeks, slip by without writing at all. I failed to follow the advice I give to writers about how to stay on track. 🤦 I know better, and now I practice my own coaching.

3. Track your progress to stay on course. It’s motivating to set a writing goal and then monitor how you’ve done each week. I created a Writing Tracker to monitor my writing progress. Please download it and use it for yourself! It’s a fun way to keep your writing momentum going.

4. Find a birthing partner (aka writing buddy), someone to keep you accountable to your progress and with whom you can talk about your writing. Check in with them regularly and talk about where you’re stuck, what memories are triggering you, and what’s causing you to stall out.

5. Schedule your due date. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as setting a deadline for getting your book done and then hitting it

What's Your Book Birth Plan? 

How about you? Where are you in your memoir writing process?

Have you conceived a memoir idea yet?

How far along are you in your writing—weeks, months, or years?

What’s your estimated delivery date?

Do you have someone who can cheer you on as you labor over your memoir and celebrate with you once you give birth to it?

If you’re ready to get started, be sure to download my free guide to help you get your book-baby underway. Follow the tips above and soon you’ll be ready to give birth to your memoir!

Get started writing your life stories.

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