Below are a few recommended books to help you tell your story. Even if you have no intention of writing a memoir, these recommendations can help you figure out what you’d like to share here with us at We the Story.
What’s Your Book? is an aspiring author’s go-to guide for getting from idea to publication. Brooke Warner is a publishing expert with thirteen years’ experience as an acquiring editor for major trade houses. In her book, she brings her unique understanding of book publishing (from the vantage point of coach, editor, and publisher) to each of the book’s five chapters, which include understanding the art of becoming an author, getting over common hurdles, challenging counterproductive mindsets, building an author platform, and ultimately getting published. Brooke is known for her straightforward delivery, honest assessments, and compassionate touch with authors. What’s Your Book? contains the inspiration and information every writer needs to publish their first or next book.
Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing, by Linda Joy Myers
Journey of Memoir —The Three Stages of Memoir Writing is a workshop in a book. Guiding you from your reasons to write a memoir, to how to begin, you will discover the answers to the questions you have about memoir writing. There are lessons on how to write a great scene; information on the difference between freewriting and outlining, and why you need both. Timeline and turning point exercises help you get started and create structure, and you’ll learn what the narrative arc is and how to create plot in memoir.
The Magic of Memoir, Inspiration for the Writing Journey (an anthology) edited by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers
The Magic of Memoir is a memoirist’s companion for when the going gets tough. Editors Linda Joy Myers and Brooke Warner have taught and coached hundreds of memoirists to the completion of their memoirs, and they know that the journey is fraught with belittling messages from both the inner critic and naysayers, voices that make it hard to stay on course with the writing and completion of a book.
In The Magic of Memoir, 38 writers share their hard-won wisdom, stories, and writing tips. Included are Myers’s and Warner’s interviews with best-selling and widely renown memoirists Mary Karr, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dr. Azar Nafisi, Dani Shapiro, Margo Jefferson, Raquel Cepeda, Jessica Valenti, Daisy Hernández, Mark Matousek, and Sue William Silverman.
This collection has something for anyone who’s on the journey or about to embark on it. If you’re looking for inspiration, The Magic of Memoir will be a valuable companion.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg
With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write. Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.
The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse. (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.
Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told— and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.
Joining such classics as Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, The Art of Memoir is an elegant and accessible exploration of one of today’s most popular literary forms—a tour de force from an accomplished master pulling back the curtain on her craft.
On Writing, by Stephen King
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future, by Dan Allender
Would you willingly overlook clear direction from God that speaks directly to you and where you are in life right now?
God’s guidance is near at hand. He is not only your Authority, he is also your Author. As God writes the stories of your life, he uses your past to open up your future.
It is your privilege to listen to your own story so you can live boldly for the sake of the Greatest Story, the good news of Jesus Christ. God reveals himself to you–and to others–through the story he has written in your life.
In this insightful and compelling book, Dr. Dan B. Allender shows you how to read the stories of your life. He helps you understand the meaning that God has written into every detail of who you are. As a result, you can share your story with others and listen to their story, revealing unique aspects of God’s hand at work.
Starting today, you can find deeper meaning in your story–a story To Be Told.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.