|Ten Tips to Help You Finish Writing Your
by: Ann Roscopf Allen
Full Article ]
- Set aside a time to write and keep it sacred.
- Remove all distractions while you write.
- Outline your plot.
- Avoid the intimidation of a blank computer screen.
- Keep a draft mentality.
- Don't feel compelled to begin at the beginning.
- Organize your files, especially if you are not
going to write in order.
- Revise, revise, revise.
- Don't be afraid of putting yourself out there.
- Only you can determine when you are finished.
Writing a Book
Writing Your Life Stories
by: LeAnn R. Ralph
Remember the time that you got into 'big trouble' when
you were a kid because. . .?
Or what about the time that your little sister. . .?
Or how about the time that your mom was making. . .and
burned the. . .?
You probably have hundreds of these stories tucked away
in your memory. Perhaps you've even thought that someday
you would like to write about them. There's only one problem.
"I don't know where to start I wouldn't know
what to write," you think to yourself.
One simple technique that will help you recall those stories
and put them into written form is called "clustering,"
which is featured in a book titled Writing the Natural
Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico (copyright 1983; J.P. Tarcher,
Whether you are aiming for publication or whether you
just want to write down your stories for your children
and grandchildren isn't important. The technique will
help you to recall your life stories.
Materials needed: several sheets of paper; a pen or a
1. Find a comfortable place that's quiet where you can
work for 15 to 30 minutes without being interrupted (kitchen
table; desk in your office; easy chair in your living
2. Think of a subject that is meaningful for you, such
as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day,
Fourth of July, Easter, New Year's Day. Other possibilities
include birthdays, a beloved pet, a best friend, an older
brother or sister, a younger brother or sister, a cousin,
grandmother, grandfather, your mom or dad, a neighbor
who was like a mother/father/grandmother/grandfather.
Additional possibilities could include an enjoyable hobby,
such as growing flowers, vegetable gardening, baking cookies,
baking cakes, making candy, or sewing.
Write the subject that you have selected in the center
of one of the sheets of paper and then circle it.
4. Draw a line with an arrow from your central word. Put
it wherever it feels "right" to you. Up or down.
Left or right. At an angle. Fill in the point of the arrow.
Filling in the arrow will give your brain a few seconds
to make the connection to the next word or phrase associated
with your subject. The basis of the whole exercise is
to allow your left brain and right brain to work together
(to coordinate the analytical and the creative).
5. Draw another circle and write down the word or phrase
inside the circle that has popped into your mind.
6. Repeat the steps of drawing arrows and circles and
writing down the words or phrases that come to mind.
7. At some point in the exercise, you will suddenly think
of an introductory sentence and you will feel a STRONG
urge to start writing. Do not ignore the urge. Take another
sheet of paper and start writing immediately. Do not try
to edit what you are writing. Do not try to over-think
what you are writing. Let yourself write what comes to
8. Write for as long as the words keep coming.
9. When you feel that you have nothing more to say on
the subject, put down your pen or pencil and relax for
a few moments, then read what you have written. Whether
it's one paragraph, a whole page, or several pages
congratulations! You have just written the first of your
10. Set your story aside for an hour or two or even a
day or two. When you read it again, you may find that
you have remembered more details that you would like to
add. If so, go ahead and add them. If not, and you are
satisfied with the piece, that's fine, too.
This exercise can be repeated for virtually any subject.
You can also use it to help flesh out parts of your story
to add more detail. Focus on a key word for a certain
section of the story and see where the clustering technique
If you are interested in interviewing family members to
record their life stories, be sure to check out LeAnn's
e-book: "Preserve Your Family History (A Step-by-Step
Guide for Writing Oral Histories)" at http://ruralroute2.com
-- "Preserve Your Family History" ($7.95) contains
more than 400 questions on 30 different topics to help
you conduct your interviews. Even if you only record those
interviews on tape (and don't actually write the oral
history), you will still have collected some of your family
stories. And isn't that the important thing?
Copyright LeAnn R. Ralph 2004
About The Author
LeAnn R. Ralph is an expert at writing her life stories.
She is the author of the books "Christmas in Dairyland
(True Stories from a Wisconsin Farm)" (July 2003)
and "Give Me a Home Where the Dairy Cows Roam"
(October 2004). "Highly recommended reading
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief/Midwest Book Review. You
are invited to read sample chapters and to sign up for
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