Jul 28 • 45M

You Are the Protagonist (memoirs need ideas too) with Rachael Herron

Ep 369 / Idea Factory 4

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

But wait, isn’t a memoir a book about my life? What do you mean, I need an idea?

We mean, you need an idea. Because your whole life is… really not book material. But one thematic chunk of it? One recurring event, one series of catastrophes, one relationship, one moment that changed everything?

Now you’re talking—and so are we, to the amazing Rachael Herron, host of the How Do You Write Podcast, author of Fast Draft Your Memoir and leader of a recurring, very hard to get into multi-week class of the same name. We talk about what does and doesn’t serve as memoir material and how to get from a vague glimmer of an idea to something that will carry you (and your reader) through chapter after chapter, and we quote a line from Cami Osmond: In memoir there’s the what and the so what.

Go where the sparkle is.

A few assorted links from the pod:

The Art of the Book Proposal, Eric Maisel

Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

Broken, Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson

The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr

Devotion, Inheritance, Hourglass, Slow Motion, Dani Shapiro

Bittersweet, Susan Cain

I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy

When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams

A Life in Stitches, Rachael Herron

I Miss You When I Blink, Bomb Shelter (Memoirs in Essays), Mary Laura Philpott

Essays that start light, then hit hard: Episode 312 with Mary Laura Philpott

Still Writing, Dani Shapiro

The Shepherd’s Life, James Rebanks

Good news for memoir writers! Y’all probably know how much I love Jennie Nash’s Blueprint books. They really are the closest thing I’ve found to a guide for getting through draft after draft. I start with them, and I go back to them when I’m stuck. The Blueprints keep me on track and help me write the book I set out to write for the readers I hope to reach.

Her newest, Blueprint for a Memoir: How to Write a Memoir for the Marketplace Is coming August 1, 2023. If you’re seeing this in July 2023, there’s a fantastic event available only to those who pre-order: a live—or recorded—deep dive into the four key steps of memoir writing, with a chance for Jennie Nash to select you for a live Hot Seat coaching session to review your work and an entry to win the Grand Prize: a written review of your Blueprint and an exclusive 50-minute strategy session with Jennie.

I think this Blueprint is Jennie’s best yet, with insights into story-telling that I’ll be using in all my work. Find all the details for the book and the pre-order event at bookcoaches.com/podcasts.

Head here for deets!

Hey you! Are you following Jess on TikTok?

Find her here!