Other girls wanted to be veterinarians, to marry rich, to be Rockettes. From that moment on, what I wanted most was a place of my own in the Dewey decimal system.[
What is the book about?
“The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life ” is written by Marion Roach Smith, a journalist , accomplished author of many blog posts, articles and books and the teacher of a renowned class on writing. Her website, which is quite remarkable in its own right, is available here.
The purpose of this book is to help you learn to write with intent. Marion Roach Smith explains the steps to writing your memoir (or any other work) in a direct and concise form. Along the way, she also gives us the tools and techniques required to do so as well as avoiding common pitfalls like ‘writer’s block’ etc.
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What does this book cover?
The introduction in “The Memoir Project” gets right to the point by asking us to be receptive to learning to write with intent. This is then followed by five chapters, each of which is a step in the journey towards writing. The steps are
figure out the idea
figure out what is important and not
Write, write, write
(I must apologize to Marion Roach Smith for trying to distill her ideas into five steps. The book is richer in detail and, obviously, does a much better job of communicating what is needed than I can.)
The book ends with a punch list, reproduced below
Toss out your writing prompts
Write with intent
Write what you know
Tell the truth
Make every page drive one story forward
Ask yourself “What is this about?”
Use the algorithm
Refer to reference books
Focus your lens
Think in propinquities
Read the news
Make your argument
Map out your structure
Vomit up a draft
Plant your arrows
Choose your audience
Edit with murder on your mind
What did I like?
“The Memoir Project” is filled with practical advice that will help potential writers tremendously. The author’s vast experience in writing comes through and helps in making this advice grounded in reality and genuine.
The author has made the tone of the book conversational. This makes it easy to read and comprehend. In addition, the personal vignettes and anecdotes adds that human touch. As a result, this book moves to a place beyond being a textbook on writing.
What did I not like?
“The Memoir Project” is a short book in terms of pages but long on content. It is an excellent book for people who want to start writing and need a helping hand.
I strongly recommend this book for those looking to write.