Memoirs: Turning Fear Into Fire

Let’s face it: we memoir writers are a sensitive lot. After all, this is our life we’re writing about!

What if no one likes it? What if someone says my writing’s no good? What if I piss off Great-Aunt Martha or that grumpy uncle who shows up at our house at Christmas? Worse yet, what if I can’t think of anything to say after page one? And besides, no one’s going to want to read it when it’s done. Right??!

It’s so easy to let those fears bring us to a screeching halt, right in our memoir-writing tracks.     

So how do you turn fear into fire? They’re so close, after all! “Fear” and “fire” — just one letter different!

Here’s one simple trick:  Look for the story inside the fear. Worried about whether your writing’s any good? Tell the story of that English teacher who used to torment you. Afraid Great-Aunt Martha will hate your family stories? Write about her fabulous Thanksgiving apple pies. (Trust me, she’ll love it!)

And nervous you’ll run out of stories? Use “nervousness” as a prompt. When have you felt nervous or fearful? When did you manage to overcome those fears? What leaps of faith have you taken? Whether you soared to success or fell flat on your face, those are all great stories!  After all, some of the greatest stories of all are about picking ourselves up and finding the courage to continue our journey.

As for family critics? Remember you can’t please everyone. That grumpy uncle — he doesn’t need a copy.

Look for the story inside
 the fear.

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