Jerry Waxler compares the benefits of journal and memoir writing

I'm so pleased to host Jerry Waxler on his third WOW! Women on Writing blog tour stop. He generously allowed me to conduct a two-part interview with him in September 2013 about the role of memoir in our lives today (here and here). At that time he also discussed his wonderful and very informative book about memoir writing, Memoir Revolution (see my review below). Today Jerry writes about the many benefits of journal and memoir writing and compares the two forms. Thanks so much, Jerry, for being here and providing your expertise to the many readers here at Choices. Comparing the Benefits of Journal Writing and Memoir Writing By Jerry Waxler I discovered the benefits of journal writing in the late 1970s when a spiritual teacher suggested, I write my thoughts as if in a letter to God. Allowing my thoughts and feelings to flow onto the page helped me maintain my poise so effectively, I kept going for years. When I began to read about the healing benefits of journal writing, I wasn … [Read more...]

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My WOW blog tour dance card is filling up

I'm always thrilled to host authors on a Women on Writing WOW blog tour. WOW created such a great tour for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, when it first launched, I never hesitate to return the favor. Right now I have six authors scheduled to appear here on Choices in the next few months. I don't think it hurts to give you a little advance notice, but I won't spoil the fun now with too many details. I'll just give you their names, book titles, and dates they will be my guests. Elizabeth Maria Naranjo, The Fourth Wall on August 4 Paige Strickland, Akin to the Truth: A Memoir of Adoption and Identity on August 11 Lorraine Ash, Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life on August 20 Tara Meissner, Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis on October 1 Kathleen Pooler, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse on October 7 Jerry Waxler, Memoir Revolution, on November 5 However, by no means is my calendar fully booked. Plea … [Read more...]

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Universal memoir themes

As promised a few days ago, I’d like to offer a list of universal memoir themes. Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story: The Art of the Personal Narrative, says: “Every work of literature has both a situation and a story. The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer – the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say.” The story is the work of literature’s theme. In my book: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide Plot (situation) = the suicide of a gifted bipolar musician brings parents grief, guilt, and anger Theme (story) = 1) limits the mother has in controlling and protecting her son, 2) surviving the son’s suicide, and 3) the mother’s journey to claim her own creative powers I’ve listed below some other universal theme ideas for lifestory and memoir writers who are writing … [Read more...]

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7 awards in one – paying it forward

I am thrilled and  honored to be nominated by author and blogger Kathy Pooler for the 7-in-1 Award—a collection of seven shiny awards all rolled in one. About Kathy: Kathy retired as a  family nurse practitioner  in 2011 after forty-four years as a registered nurse. She and her  husband, Wayne have a blended family of six children, ten grandsons, ages 5-24, and a Golden Retriever, Max. They live on the 135-acre land that used to be Wayne’s grandfather’s dairy farm  where he grows organic vegetables. Life is good. Kathy's goal for 2014 is to publish her first memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: A Memoir About Choices and to complete my second memoir, Hope Matters: A Memoir of Faith. Thank you so much Kathy for nominating me for the 7-in-1 blog award (and thank you for allowing me to use some of your words here). Now it's my turn to nominate some of my favorite blogs for the award as well. First things first: Here are the rules for the 7-in-1 awards: Display the logo on your b … [Read more...]

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Back to work

First of all I want to thank all my friends who participated in the Choices Guest Post Festival from the end of August to mid September:  Susan Weidener  Deborah Kalan  Viki Noe  Ace Antonio Hall  Meryl Hartstein  Chanel Brenner  Eleanor Vincent  Jerry Waxler  Sherrey Meyer  Linda Joy Myers  Karen Levy  Kathy Pooler  You all certainly raised the bar over here. During the last three and a half weeks the number of views more than doubled because of your contributions. So it’s time for me to get back to work. I need to keep the momentum going by posting myself and hosting guests as much as possible. Please let me know if you’d like to share your writing story on Choices in the near future.  On Wednesday, my guests will be Cami Ostman and Susan Tive who will share about their anthology, Beyond Belief: what happens when women of extreme relig … [Read more...]

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The psychology of memoir writing – Jerry Waxler (Part 2)

I'm so pleased to have Jerry Waxler back here with us. He has so much knowledge and interesting information about memoir, I'm sure we could go on and on. However, we'll touch on just a few topics here and hopefully you'll buy and read his book Memoir Revolution to learn more. Back to Jerry. In Memoir Revolution you talk about the psychology of memoir writing. I’m interested in that aspect as well and would like to ask you a few questions about it.   Madeline: Please discuss Dr. Pennebaker and his contribution to memoir.   Jerry: Dr. James Pennebaker is a researcher who studies the positive influence of writing. In a landmark study he demonstrated that students who wrote in their journals about some serious emotional dilemma ended up visiting the infirmary fewer times than students who merely wrote unemotional events, like what movie they saw. The results show in a controlled scientific way that writing heals not only the mind but also the body. Such research hel … [Read more...]

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Welcome Jerry Waxler, memoir and life story expert (Part 1)

I am honored to have Jerry Waxler, author of the Memoir Revolution, as my guest today. He generously answers my many questions about the role of memoir in our lives today, and as a result I've divided our interview into two parts. Part 1 is here today. Part 2 will go live on September 15. Please come back then to continue enjoying our discussion. Jerry is passionate about life story writing and as a result has read hundreds of memoirs in researching his his book. Jerry Waxler knows about memoir.   Madeline: What does the Memoir Revolution mean? Why is it important? Jerry: The Memoir Revolution is my name for the groundswell of interest in reading and writing life stories. I believe that this is an important development for our culture, a renaissance that teaches us how to use the ancient power of Story to interpret our own lives. As the collective interest in memoirs continues to grow, more and more of us are discovering the value of it for ourselves. The … [Read more...]

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Please welcome Sherrey Meyer

I am thrilled to have Sherrey Meyer here as my guest today. She echoes my thoughts about the benefits of writing to heal, and provides Dr. Pennebaker's proof that it is so. Yes, for me writing is a way to put my pain on the page. It is a soothing balm. What do you think? Benefits of Writing Your Story by Sherrey Meyer In 2001, when my mother died, the story of our lives together had traversed many years and battled many storms. Yet at the end, something unusual and unexpected happened. I tucked that memory away knowing it was possibly the core for a memoir. When I retired in 2006, I remembered how often I had said, “When I have time, I want to write a book.” Little did I know when I began accumulating my memories on the computer and sorting through family photos the benefit writing this story would give. Never had it occurred to me that writing could be a restorative, healing process. With each word typed, I felt changes taking place. The invisible scars created by years of ver … [Read more...]

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Please meet Kathleen Pooler

I’m so happy to introduce my guest today, Kathleen Pooler. Her discussion of the sensory details needed to bring readers into our scenes is spot on. Please click on all the links Kathy provides for very powerful examples. The Power of Sensory Details in Memoir Writing by Kathleen Pooler "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth It's a well-known expectation in writing circles that the key to a compelling read is to use the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste – to invite the reader into the scene. What better way to evoke emotions than to enable the reader to see the setting sun behind the snow-laced trees or to see a character's facial expression and the color of his eyes, to hear the calmness in his voice, to feel the softness of his skin, to smell the aroma of baking bread then to taste the steaming bread as the butter melts into it... When I have an idea for a story, I'll admit, I begin recounting the scene as I remem … [Read more...]

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