I have good news and bad news. In spite of all of the hype and in spite of all of the people who are selling you books saying that you can write a book in 30 days, you really cannot. It takes a lifetime to write a book, and it takes at least several months to capture oneself for the pages of a book. I know, Amazon is selling dozens of books that swear that if you will buy this book or that, you can write a novel or a memoir or some other kind of book in 30 days, but I would have to challenge that claim. People who had already been writing the book for a great deal of time, before the 30 days began ticking away, might be able to pull something together in a month, but I really doubt that anyone can discover a new idea and write about it and edit it and sequence it within that short amount of time. Writing a book is simply more complicated than that, and that is the bad news. The good news is that I have created a more do-able plan for writing a book of memoir, and beginning October 1, you can participate in aFree Run of the Entire Course, which will require several months to complete.
The First Challenge for Writing Your Memoir Is Rediscovering What It Is That Truly Makes You Tick–It Is Rediscovering What Separates You from the Herd.
Great writing is deliberate and specific, and poor writing is generalized. One of the biggest mistakes that a writer can make is to write about things that seem to interest everyone else but that only vaguely interests himself. That is like being the person who always tries to please everyone and who continuously straddles the fence. Invariably, the fence straddlers are those people who want to please everyone and in doing so, they please no one at all.
“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
In the current realm of Social Media, where being “liked” becomes the raison d’etre, it becomes tempting to simply chit chat when we write. In other words, it becomes tempting to use meaningless words that won’t offend anyone at all. Being liked is important to most people. It has certainly always been important for me, and at times, I have stayed in the middle of the road–striving to please everyone, but I didn’t even like myself when I was doing that.
During my teen years, I jumped through hoop after hoop, hoping to be liked. Most people do that when they are teens. Being a teenager in America is difficult, and because of social media, we are somewhat trapped into being a perpetual teen. Facebook is a prime example of that. Facebook is a place where we contine liking or disliking people by the mere clicks of our mouse. How 7th grade is that!
I want to be liked, and I dislike, as much as anyone else, for people to disagree with me. I do not even like the conflict of disagreeing with others, but I decided long ago that I would notbe a person who has no opinions. People without opinions are like piles of mashed potatoes. The life has been boiled and whipped completely out of them. People who continuously ride the fence either have not thought deeply enough to formulate an opinion, or they are living a lie–trying to hide behind the veil of seeming to have no opinion. We must have opinions. We must take a stand in life. In taking a stand, we can be differentiated from the faceless mob. The only way to be meaningful in life is to let your life mean–to let it actually stand–and to stand out.
In taking a stand, our lives can be differentiated. In taking stands in life, we do more than exist–we mean. The only way to be meaningful in life is to allow your life to mean. – Jacki Kellum
There will be people who absolutely hate us for our opinions; but in taking stands in life, we also offer other people something concrete to love. We become more than wobbling globs of jello. When writers dare to take a stand in life, they offer their readers an authentic mind. They offer them words that have meaning, and they offer their readers a vital and feeling heart that has the capacity to care. People who ride the fence do not have those things to give. They are empty; they are flat; they are zero. Risking being disliked by a few is essential to becoming more than a pile of mashed potatoes.
Herein lies the key: If you try to please all of the people all of the time, you have elected to stand for nothing yourself. To stand for something is to get off the fence–out of the middle of the road.
“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” – Margaret Thatcher
“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”– Margaret Thatcher
For several weeks, I have been promising that I’ll be launching a Free Writing Class or Blogging Event on October 1, 2016, and I initially called that event Mine Your Memories: Find Your Voice. Because it seemed to be the trend, I suggested in the title of the event that within 36 days of participating in the course, writers would have found their voices and would have potentially written an entire book. As I began pulling the material for the course together, however, I realized that the idea that anyone can write a book in 36 days or less is hog wash.
As I said before, writing a book is complicated. The process of extracting oneself from the middle of the road and discovering what it is that you truly want to write is a complicated process, and that is only the first step. But it is the crucial first step of rediscovering what truly makes you tick and rediscovering what is unique about yourself. This is a complicated and soul-searching process. It is a time-consuming unfolding of oneself and of looking at what lurks inside. The good news, however, is that valid and authentic and deliberate writing is an excellent way to allow that unveiling to take place. Beginning on October 1, 2016, in Find Your Path, my readers and I will thrust ourselves into the process of exploring our memories and our minds to rediscover our authentic selves.
“The only way to be meaningful in life is to allow your life to mean.” – Jacki Kellum
Beginning October 1, I’ll share 36 days of writing prompts with the participants of the event, and in responding deliberately and truthfully to the prompts, the writers will begin to rediscover who they actually are, and that is the first step toward writing the books that continuously well up inside yourself, begging to be written
After that first part of the course, Find Your Path, I’ll allow the participants to take a couple of months for rewriting and editing and thinking before they resubmerge themselves into the second segment, which will begin January 1, 2017. During the interim between segments of the event, however, I’ll begin to conduct a weekly event, which will offer writers one prompt or one group of prompts to polish over the course of that week. Beginning January 1, 2017, the writers will be invited back into another 36-day intensive event, Paint Your Past, where they will practice writing more descriptively.
The third part of the course, Mine Your Voice, will begin April 1, and by that time, the participant should have begun expressing himself in clearly distinguishable ways. During this part of the course, the writers will be offered more writing prompts and will also be offered some exercises to help them turn their memoir writing or any other kind of writing into poetry. There is no shortcut to finding your writing voice. The only way to accomplish that is to write and to write a lot more. Trying different styles of writing and writing about a variety of things will also help, and that is the goal of Mine Your Voice.
The fourth part of the course will be the crucial step of collating our best writings and discovering how we want to be published. During this part of the course, I’ll share what I have learned about the publishing industry–including what I have learned about self-publishing. Although I’ll challenge participants throughout the course to begin from day 1 marketing themselves and building their Search Engine Optimization, during the last part of the course Retail Your Book, I’ll share some final marketing and publishing tips.
Although I’d like to sell you a get-rich, get-published-instantly plan for writing and publishing your book in 30 days or less, the truth is that in doing so, I’d be feeding you a lie and I’d be riding that non-specific fence of telling you what you want to hear, primarily to sell. But in absolute honesty, I cannot do that. I wouldn’t want to read the book that you would write in 30 days or less, and I doubt that you would even want to read it yourself. To do the job correctly, I suggest that you allow yourself several months to write your book, and I suggest that you stay the course or as they say in the country, “Plow to the end of the row.” Several months may sound like a large time investment, but the best news of all is that if you start with a more realistic plan than trying to write a book in 30 days, you will allow yourself the chance to actually succeed.
©Jacki Kellum August 14, 2016