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Turn the Page

December 3, 2009

Cindy Battles

This post was contributed by Cindy Battles, a freelance writer based in Rutland, VT who’s been diagnosed with and managing bipolar disorder for many years.

Consider that sometimes the only thing between you and your dream is… you. Meaning, sometimes you have to get out of your own way.

Take me for example. You know how I like a good read. In particular, inspiring memoirs written by people with disabilities.  Which got me thinking — got me dreaming — with one thought top of mind: I can, too.

Yet still, something in me was fighting it. I was dragging my feet, putting it off. Until eventually, I sent some family stories to my sister, who surreptitiously passed them along to a published friend. The friend then passed them along to her New York agent. The agent accepted my first bunch of stories — and asked for more! That one small action towards achieving my dream propelled it into a reality. All I had to do was… do it.

So if this is the year you’ve promised yourself you’ll get your life history on paper too, heck, even get it made into a movie by writing your own story, here are a few tips from that New York agent that I’ve found extremely useful:

1.  Write at least a page a day. That way you’ll have 365 pages in a year and will be done.

2.  Start in essays. A smaller format. This will make your endeavor easier.

3.  Relive the details. Listen to the music, eat childhood foods, revisit old hangouts, quiz family members, study old photos.

4.  Tell your truth. Don’t worry about offending someone until you’re finished and then make changes if necessary. And remember, your life story isn’t perfect — a good thing! It’s the pots in the road that make the reader turn the page.

5.  Don’t forget to get out of your own way! You can do it, too.

For more tips and inspiration, check out How to Write A Memoir or Ten Great Memoirs to Read.

See you on the shelves!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sher permalink
    December 4, 2009 7:22 pm

    Splendid suggestions Cindy! Getting out of our own way is so critical. You made such good points about how sometimes it just takes some concrete action.

    Wonderful advice about eating childhood foods, and listening to period music to get those memories flowing. I shall definitely try that.

    I like what you said about the pot holes in the road being interesting, especially as the idea of writing ‘perfection’ is terrifying. Many thanks!


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