Tuesday, July 27, 2021

So You Want to Write a Memoir? by Judy Sheer Watters #memoir #writing tips #giveaway


Memoirs and More--4th Wednesday of the Month

Hello and Welcome to the Memoirs and More monthly post!

This week, I am so happy to host my friend Judy Sheeer Watters. She is an author, freelance writer, editor, and life storytelling teacher. She offers valuable tips for you who are thinking about, beginning, in the middle of or finishing up a story about your life. She has published three memoirs and teaches the art of memoir, so her tips are tried and true. You can apply many of her tips to writing fiction and non-fiction books, as well.

Judy also has writing prompts and author interviews on her Youtube channel. I was excited to be her guest for an interview about my memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir. I'll share that video with you in August.

So what is the difference between writing your life story and writing a memoir? If you think of your entire life from birth to the present as a great big cherry pie, then one slice out of the pie would be a memoir. Please read to the end of the page to find out how to connect to Judy online and discover her books and more!

Judy has generously offered an e-copy of her memoir, The Road Home, to a lucky commenter. Don't forget to leave a comment below to be eligible to win her memoir. Enter to win the drawing before Sunday, August 1, 10:00 pm EDST. Good luck!!

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Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Welcome, Judy! We want to know more about writing a memoir. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks, Janet, for inviting me to your blog.

Write a Memoir
Image by Darkmoon_Art from Pixabay

So You Want to Write a Memoir? by Judy Sheer Watters

So you want to write a memoir? Why not? How I wish I had known my paternal grandmother. I would have loved to hear her stories of escaping Russia and the Bolshevik Revolution. Those stories were lost forever when she came through Ellis Island and died after giving birth to my father. Many of Daddy’s experiences in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City are also lost to me and to the generations that follow me.

The first question we need to consider in writing our memoir is what will we write? Usually, a memoir covers only a small segment of a person's life. The focus could be on early school days and how different family members helped to develop your own character. Perhaps it covers the long-term care you gave to a loved one and how you coped with letting go at his/her death. It might reveal the turmoil in a troubled marriage or with problem children and lessons learned by both you and your spouse as your bond strengthened and healed.

The next question goes hand-in-hand with your first question. What is your purpose for writing your memoir? Several people who I have worked with have the burning desire to finish their written memoir to give as gifts to their family. Their hope is that many generations to come will read their story and know some of the family struggles and joys. On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you dream of being the next New York Times bestseller with your memoir of how you pulled yourself out of a devastating pit of despair and lived to tell it all. Your end goal will determine your voice. If it's written for your family alone, you might use a more familiar tone than if you are writing for the outside world.


 The Road Home by Judy Sheer Waters
A city boy from a New York City orphanage, well-versed in the school of hard knocks,
meets a country girl who thinks she wants a life of travel and excitement.

What format will you write your story in? In my first memoir, The Road Home: The Legacy that was, is and is to Come, I used life lessons. Each chapter's story ended with a moral—something I learned through that experience. Alma Wakefield wrote her memoir, Amanda Grace, of her Downs Syndrome daughter, using character traits her daughter taught her through the years. One chapter she titled "Patience" and another, “Acceptance.” Sheri Hunt wrote her memoir The Oldest Sin in the Book as a self-help book. Through her own pain of food addiction, she writes about how she found the source of her healing. In my third memoir, Panning for Gold in Our Golden Years, I wrote short stories of how my mom met the aging process head-on every step of the way. Then I offered writing prompts for the reader to tell of their own experience in giving up the car keys or accepting a walker or wheelchair.

Panning for Gold in Our Golden Years

Now that you know what you will write and how you will format your story, you are ready to outline your book. Some writers prefer to just wing it. They start writing and let the pen take them through their story. I actually did this until I got so confused, I had to stop and organize my stories. So here's my old-fashioned suggestion. Get 3 X 5 cards and write a short one to two-sentence synopsis of each chapter or just give that story a title. For instance, one chapter in my own book involved my older sister knocking out my brother’s two front teeth. I wrote “Life is Painful at Times.” Under that, I wrote “Virginia knocks out Rodney's teeth.” After I had finished thirty cards, I organized my cards in a logical storyline and started again. I understand the Scrivener software program does the same thing, but I have not tried this yet. I'm still of the old school.

Now that you know your purpose for writing, what you will write, the format in which you write your story, and you have outlined your book, you are ready to write. It's at this time that your marketing begins, but that's for another post.

Get those stories written down for the generations to come, and be sure to enjoy the process.

 And as I tell my writing students: Get your BIC (butt in chair) and start writing, NOW.

Stop in and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I bring you Author interviews of ordinary people who had a story to share with the world. I also bring short writing prompts to get your creative juices going so you can write your own stories for your generations to come. 

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Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

About Judy:

Author Judy Sheer Watters

All life can be counted as joyful; just some days are more joyful than others. And it’s all those days, the joyful and the not so joyful, that makes life worth living. And when you put all those days together, a pattern of life lessons emerges that ultimately becomes your legacy.
Judy Watters’ love and focus on memoir stems from the realization that her children would never know the richness of their grandparents’ lives or her childhood farm unless she put it into writing. Judy’s expertise comes from many years of studying the craft of memoir writing. She works closely with others to teach the art of memoir and to help new authors leave the gift of legacy for their families. As Judy sees it, “Everyone has a legacy to leave for their generations to come. Leaving your written legacy and the life lessons learned allows your future generations to realize they are not alone in this journey we call life.”

A retired English teacher and secondary principal, Judy is an author of three memoirs and more than 30 low content books (puzzle, activity, journals, logbooks). She is a freelance writer and editor and the founder of Hill Country Christian Writers and Hill Country Legacy Writers. Judy and her husband reside in Spring Branch, Texas. Along with their three grown children, one daughter-in-law, the most gorgeous granddaughter, two grandcats, and a one-eyed rescue dog named Lacey. They continue to create a rich legacy of their own.

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Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

 Click the links below to connect with Judy online:

If you have any questions, contact her at: sheermemoirs@gmail.com

Judy's Facebook page at Judy Sheer Watters, Author

Judy's YouTube channel 

Judy's website 

Judy Sheer Watters Author Central page  

Book trailer for The Road Home

Click the book title to purchase your copy of The Road Home by Judy Sheer Waters

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J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for being my guest this week, Judy!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great post, Judy. I appreciate the way you broke it down so the process wouldn't feel so overwhelming.

Lynn La Vita said...

Thank you for introducing us to Judy Sheeer Watters. Her basic questions caused me to reflect on my life and what to write. As you say: BIC is not jus the brand name of a pen. Thanks for the YouTube link.

denisse warshak said...

Thanks for sharing your advice, Judy! So helpful! Now I just need to do the hardest part... get my BIC!!! :-)

Helena Fairfax said...

Thanks for the advice, Judy. In my work as a freelance editor, I edit a lot of memoirs. I love how you've broken down the advice, and I particularly like your advice to think about who your readers are likely to be - whether this is for your family, or if you'd like to reach a much wider audience.
Great tips!

Judy Watters said...

Thanks for inviting me. It was fun, and I hope your subscribers got some little tidbit that will help them in their writing journey.

J.Q. Rose said...

Joylene, I think that breaking it down as Judy did really does help folks plan out how to go about writing a memoir. It's like eating an elephant--one bite at a time.!!

J.Q. Rose said...

Lynn, I hope you write down some of your reflections or capture them on video using your phone. It's amazing how much we learn and understand looking at the past through the lens of time.

J.Q. Rose said...

LOL---Indeed!! Good luck. You can do it!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks, Helena.

Marsha said...

Hey JQ. Nice to meet you, Judy. Interesting way to break down the project of writing a memoir. I've shared. :)

Judy Watters said...

Thanks, Joylene. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Judy Watters said...

Hi Denisse. You already have a lot done. Keep going. Won't be long and it will be published!

Judy Watters said...

Hi Helena, Yes, it's important to know your readers before you even start. Glad you enjoyed the blog.

Judy Watters said...

Thanks, Marsha, for the share. Breaking it down into smaller steps makes the process so much easier and more fun.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Marsha, have you tried jotting down a few things for your kids? I'm sure you have some great stories to tell! Thanks for sharing!

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