You want to write your life story
Great. I thought it was about time. That’s quite the life you’ve lived, and it’ll make quite the autobiography!
Don’t let anything hold you back. Good luck!
Oh, still here?
Perhaps you’re worried that, even though you’ve got a great story to tell, you don’t think it will interest anyone? I’ve worked with scores of people with stories to tell, and every one of them has wrestled with the question: Is my story worth telling?
Whoever you are, whatever life you’re living, I’m certain your story is worth telling. Everybody’s story matters to someone. Don’t confuse the concern that your story may not be commercially viable for a publisher with ‘my story is not worth telling’. Self-publishing makes it easier than ever for all of us to tell our stories for very small audiences. And, as we’ll see, a writing mentor can help you tell your story.
So that’s that question deal with! Here’s another big one…
Autobiography vs memoir – which is best for you?
To work this one out, ask yourself: Do I want to write my whole life story? (That’s an autobiography) Or am I more interested in focusing in on one or two very specific incidents, activities, or experiences? (That’s a memoir.)
The boundaries between autobiography and memoir don’t have to be so tightly enforced, but it will help your planning and preparation to work out what kind of story you’re telling early on.
In my experience, people who want to write memoirs come into the process with a very clear idea of an area of their personal or professional life that will carry the whole narrative. You could explore how a specific incident or experience changed your life. You could write an overview of your life in business. Or your life in love. Or your journey as a parent.
You could write your survival story, having overcome a personal difficulty. I’ve worked with lots of people who have written memoirs to help them come to terms with difficult experiences, learn from them, and hep others overcome something similar, in stories like Up To Me, and Broken Roads Lead Me Here.
Ten reasons to hire a writing mentor if you’re writing your own story
Working with a writing mentor on your life story comes with all sorts of benefits. Perhaps most importantly of all, it makes the process feel like you’re in charge. If you’ve thought about working with a ghostwriter and decided against it, but still feel like you need a little help in writing a book about your life, this is the way to go. And here are your your ten reasons why writing a book about your life will feel easier with a little help…
Life story writing prompts
Even though it feels like writing a book about your life ought to be straightforward, it’s surprisingly easy to get stuck. A writing mentor will come armed with scores of prompts to push you in the right direction. From telling questions about your life, through to queries that push your narrative in a more revealing direction, they’ll give you fresh inspiration whenever you need it.
One of the best things about having a writing mentor at the end of an email is the opportunity it gives for ongoing feedback.
I’ve worked with people who have set off on writing their memoir like a train, belting out complete chapters with seeming ease… until they reach a fork in the line. They take one way and then suddenly realise – several thousand words later – that they’ve gone the wrong way. The prospect of putting their manuscript back on track can be absolutely crushing. Many memoir writers stop at that point and never return to their book.
That doesn’t happen when you work with a writing mentor. They’ll advise you on the right ways to structure your memoir or autobiography, and they can assess your manuscript at critical points helping you to identify the best next steps.
As well as keeping you on track as your manuscript develops, your writing mentor can help you find new ways of telling your story. Any good autobiography or memoir can be made even better by the addition of some narrative tricks derived from fiction. Your writing mentor can help you covey dialogue more convincingly, structure effective chapters (and chapter endings) and give your story real dramatic momentum.
Get feedback on your writing
It might not feel like the nicest thing in the world to have your work critically assessed by a writing mentor, but it’s worth it. Every writer improves with feedback. Really, your writing mentor is performing the same job as an editor, working with you to hone your writing and make it shine.
You’ll gain fresh insights into the things you do well, and the traps you fall into. You’ll hear how simple changes can make your writing better. You’ll learn to make writing feel more natural and more authentic as your confidence in your writing voice begins to grow.
A writing mentor brings a reader’s eye
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of our personal stories without sparing a thought for things our readers might not understand. Your writing mentor will guard against that, helping you to make your autobiography or memoir comprehensible to a wider range of readers.
Unstinting encouragement to foster your own style
It’s amazing how far a bit of encouragement can take you. Not blind, unfocused encouragement, but the sort of informed support and encouragement from a professional who knows good work when they see it. Most first-time writers constantly hold themselves to very high standards; they invariably worry that what they’re doing isn’t good enough…
When you work with a writing mentor, you can get the objective assessment you need to help you believe in yourself. There may well be things you’re not going so well, but when they’re pointed out to you – with suggestions for ways of doing things better – you can overcome them.
It’s even more important to be shown what you are doing well. You might not even appreciate the quality of your own work, but when it’s pointed out to you, it will inspire you to keep going, secure in the knowledge that you’re doing good work.
A writing mentor will streamline your writing process
From helping you plan your book effectively to keeping you focused chapter by chapter, your writing mentor will help you make more productive use of your writing time. You’ll be able to start each writing session with clear objectives, and defined path to follow.
Learn to tell your story and more stories!
The single best part of working with a writing mentor is the confidence it gives you to go on writing. Once you’ve written one book, you’ll feel equipped to write another. Perhaps you can follow your first book with a follow-up, a different kind of memoir or business book, or even a book about someone in your family. Whatever stories you have to tell, you’ll have the skills and you’ll have the confidence to tell them.
Help with autobiography publishing / Help with memoir publishing
Some people choose to write their memoir or autobiography to preserve their story for future generations. Some do it to help others learn from the experiences they’ve lived through. Some stories are deliberately very niche; the sorts of books that friends and family will enjoy. Some have a potentially large audience.
Your writing mentor can advise you on the best course of action, whether you want to self-publish your memoir, or you’re looking for a mainstream publisher. They may even be able to make some introductions or suggest some suitable contacts for you to follow up.
After all the hours you’ll have spent working together, you’ll know you can trust your writing mentor to tell you the truth about your chances of snaring a publisher, or whether your book would be better served through self-publishing.
Writing mentors give you the best thing of all…
They give you honesty.
You can tell your story and you can give your manuscript to friends and family to assess, but you can’t guarantee they’ll give you their honest, unvarnished feedback. Working with a writing mentor is different. You’ll get their absolute honesty – and when you get over the slight shock of it – you’ll be thankful for it!
The more honest they are, the more you’ll learn, and the better your book will be. Not only that, you’ll find the whole process of telling your story a lot more satisfying.
Looking for a writing mentor?
Get in touch to tell me about your idea for your book, and I’ll tell you a bit more about the ways in which I can help you. Book yourself a free half hour consultation about my writing mentor service.