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Memoir writing and protecting yourself

Tutor Spiri Tsintziras has a tip for memoir writers in the lead-up to her workshop on Protecting Yourself: name your fears, give it a few days, and be your own trusted friend.

Often we are our own worst enemy when it comes to writing memoir. It is my experience that fear underpins much of what we are concerned about: fear that our story is boring, fear that we will get lost in the painful memories we are writing about, and fear of people’s responses to elements of our story. Does any of this sound familiar?

“Is my life interesting enough for a memoir?”

“How will I feel when I am writing about (insert difficult/traumatic/disturbing) events?”

“What will (insert name of important/difficult/tyrannical person) say when they read it?”

There are no easy answers to these questions, but it may help to start by naming your fears.

Today’s therapeutic exercise

Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. Respond to the following statements quickly – don’t overthink it.

My biggest concern when writing my memoir/story is…

I am really worried about…

What’s stopping me from writing is…

Fold the paper up and put it away. Let the answers percolate in your mind for the next few days.

A few days later…

Come back to what you have written and review your answers. Then imagine you are a trusted friend. As the trusted friend, respond to the following statements:

Some ways you might address your biggest concerns are…

What would help you to overcome your worries?

Is there anything I can do to help?

Review your answers and act on at least one constructive piece of advice from your “trusted friend”.

About Spiri Tsintziras

Spiri Tsintziras is the author of several books and stories, most recently the memoir ‘Afternoons in Ithaka’. She teaches creative and corporate writing at Swinburne University and regularly blogs at www.tribaltomato.com.

Spiri will be running a Business Writing workshop on Annual Reports in Melbourneand a workshop on This Fascinating Life – Writing Memoir in Woodend in June 2017. And she is available for in-house training through our Business Writing program.


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