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Tips for Writing Memoir with Louis Nayer
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Friday, November 27, 2020


Louise Nayer is the author of Burned: A Memoir, an Oprah Great Read and winner of the Wisconsin Library Association Award.

When asked about the biggest mistakes new memoirists make, Louise noted that many authors make the false assumption that writing memoir is like journaling. Instead, she explained, it’s about being able to create a work of art out of a segment of one’s life.

She added that memoir is often mistakenly confused, too, with autobiography.

Louise suggested that memoirists first create a timeline, since memoir often has multiple stories. Creating a timeline up front can make it easier to interweave stories.

Asked about the potential for memoir as a means of catharsis, Louise stressed that she doesn’t see writing as therapy or being cathartic. To the contrary, she pointed out that it’s often necessary to get to a certain point in one’s life, i.e., likely already experiencing understanding, healing, catharsis, etc. before even being able to write about trauma in a memoir.

Since writing about traumatic events can be triggering, Louise recommended; getting help; adding humor; writing about the present; possibly writing about traumatic events as fiction versus memoir.

Louise’s writing practice has evolved. Whereas she used to spend a couple of days a week in an office setting, she now works more at home. She does not adhere to a specific writing schedule.

Louise’s current project is an adventure story that takes place in Morocco, NYC, and while driving along across country.

While working on that project, Louise was reminded that sometimes a writer thinks a memoir is about one thing, but it turns out to be about something else.

Podcast editing and episode notes by author and podcast producer and host Matthew Félix (matthewfelix.com).

The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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