Lyn Alderson

Copywriter, Journalist, Blogger

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The magnetic pull of memoir writing

Memoir writing is an exploding genre. Creative writing courses are packed with eager students of all ages, poised to learn the craft of artful storytelling.

And phenomenal numbers of memoirs are being published as it becomes not just acceptable, but highly fashionable, to spill the beans.

image by Damian Gadal

Image by Damien Gadal

I see the current trend as a heartening one; a move away from the sound bite culture which really took off in the 1990s and has been dominating mass communications ever since. And although some critics of the genre say there are too many badly-written memoirs out there, there are a lot of good ones too.

So why this magnetic pull towards memoir writing?

Writing therapy

As a journalist for more than two decades, I’ve listened to a lot of people telling their stories- and I know it’s often very therapeutic. Telling your story at length addresses a deep human need to be heard and acknowledged, and that’s something that can’t happen on social media platforms.

Writing a memoir helps us to see the narrative thread in our lives, reflect on the consequences of past choices, and even find redemption or closure. It gives us permission to articulate feelings that we couldn’t express in the past, and writing about the trauma we have experienced has scientifically proven healing effects.

It looks very much as if writing therapy, whether in the form of keeping a journal, or publishing a full-length memoir, is gradually taking over from the talking therapies in Western culture. It’s not hard to see why. For some people, psychotherapy still has a stigma attached and has to be approached in a covert fashion, while becoming a writer carries societal approval but allows you to bare your soul in much the same way.

Connecting to like-minded souls

And writing, even if you are still honing your skills, allows you to connect to other like-minded people.

As New York Times columnist and short story writer Steve Almond so succinctly put it: “writing allows you to join a flesh-and-blood community of fellow writers, readers and critics, all of whom have chosen the rigors of narrative over the emotional fragmentation of the digital age”.

Publishing a memoir is more than an act of self-expression and connecting to others, however. Your story may help someone else who is going through similar issues and that is a great motivator for many memoir writers.

So if you’ve started a memoir, I’d encourage you to keep going. You could be doing yourself and other people a big favour.

For more information on the therapeutic aspects of writing, see The Write Therapy: How Keeping a Journal Can Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Productive : many of the benefits of journaling apply to memoir writing too!

To see more Damien Gadal images click here






Writing a memoir: what are the benefits?

woman-41201_1280Should you write a memoir, and what are the benefits of such a project?

I’ve been thinking this through while ghost writing two very different memoirs for ladies who both have fascinating stories.

These women are inspirational characters who have given a lot to other people, and they both have great insights: the world needs to hear what they have to say.

So think about whether you have a great story that will benefit others when they read it. You don’t need to be famous or wealthy, although you might be. But you do need an eventful life story, one that involves overcoming challenges, or triumphing over adversity.

The best and the worst memoirs

In the best memoirs I’ve read, people have reflected on- and owned up to- their mistakes as human beings and found a positive way forward despite what life has thrown at them. The worst memoirs are the ones that people write to settle old scores, where they insist on blaming everyone else for everything that’s gone wrong.

True life stories are more entertaining than fiction, as long as they are courageously and honestly narrated. And memoirs can have many different angles. They can be about business or career achievements, traveling or hobbies, or family and personal relationships- or a mixture of many varied elements.

Many memoirs are about illness, or coping with the illness of significant others in your life. Memoirs don’t always involve high drama, because sometimes it’s not external factors that have the most impact on us, but what happens on the inside as we go through life.

The healing power of memoir

book-841171_1280So consider writing a memoir if you have something to say to inspire or encourage others, or if you want to record your experiences for future generations.

Telling your story often has a healing effect: we feel purged of negative emotions as we write them down. So it can be positively therapeutic to write a memoir. Psychologists say that memories of traumatic events are reorganised internally as we speak about them, and filed away more neatly in long term memory, so they become less intrusive and less disturbing in the here and now.

And it’s not just about coming to terms with the past. Don’t forget the joy you can experience again as you relive mountain top experiences of your life! At the very least, writing a memoir will increase your self- awareness and that’s a positive gain.

It also gives you something unique to pass on to family members, a treasured possession that helps them understand you and their family history.

The difficult part in memoir-writing is coaxing the story out, and deciding which bits are relevant to your narrative. Planning the central themes in advance is paramount. Work out what is important to you- it’s your story after all.

Help with memoir writing

You may have something important to say but lack the spare time or skills needed for a book project. In this case, don’t be deterred. You could employ a ghost writer to help you do justice to the story. They could interview you face-to-face or on Skype, and write the narrative on your behalf- I’ve used this process with clients and it works well. There are lots of people out there who can assist you with writing and publishing a book.

Remember that the process of story-telling is valuable for you, whether you write every word yourself or engage a professional to help you. Your book will be an accomplishment and treasured by those who love you. And you never know, it might be a best-seller too!

How an e-book can help your business

What’s your business?

Marketing? Landscape gardening? Selling beauty products? Fixing cars?

It really doesn’t matter what your profession is, writing an e-book can have huge commercial benefits, and all sorts of positive knock-on effects.

After writing my e-book The Write Therapy: How Keeping a Journal Can Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive,  I gained a new client in the US.

She had read my book, connected with the subject matter, visited my website, and decided I was the right person to help her with some projects. It was a great experience to gain my first international client and I have had a brilliant time working with a very talented and inspirational lady.

You may not think of yourself as an author, but an e-book might be just what your business needs.

Enhance your reputation

why not enhance your business reputation with an e-book?

Writing an e-book can establish you as an expert

One clever chap wrote about the best way to construct swimming pools, and he has since acquired a huge reputation as an expert in this area. He’s been asked to manage projects, act as an expert witness in court cases, and do many other things  as a result of his book.

Unsure what to write about? Think about a problem you have an answer for. Then turn the answer into a book; it really is that simple.

If you’re not great at writing, just come up with the content and let someone else knock it into shape for you.

Writing an e-book need not cost much if you work on it in your spare time, and it’s free to publish on Amazon and many other platforms.

An e-book can be considerably shorter than a novel. Around 50- 100 pages is a good length, but it could be even shorter depending on its purpose.

Reasons to write an e-book

Here’s four good reasons why your business really needs an e-book:

 To establish yourself as a leading authority in your field

Don’t under-estimate the value of your expert knowledge to people outside your profession or trade. Writing an e-book will raise your profile and help you reach your target audience. You may end up learning even more about your specialist subject as you research your chosen topic. Don’t be afraid to explain your vision and say why your approach makes sense

To earn a passive income

You only have to write your book once. After that it will potentially keep on earning you money. Of course, you will have to publicise it to maximise sales, but you can do that virtually cost-free through social media and press releases.

To grow your email list

You can use an e-book as a modestly priced or free-of-charge incentive for potential clients to join your mailing list. Make your book available for download on your website, and get people to sign up with their name and email address. Don’t abuse this privilege by bombarding people with constant messages, but send out timely offers on your products or services.

To increase traffic to your website

Promote your book through Facebook, Twitter, and other SM channels, and provide a link to drive traffic to your website. That’s likely to lead to further sales for your range of products or services

Integrate your e-book into your business strategy and you will add value and growth to your business. So what’s holding you back?

If you need help from a ghost writer, email

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Blogging for businesses- what are the benefits?

In just a few short years, blogging has become phenomenally popular in the business world.

Giant corporations like McDonalds and Microsoft do it, and very small businesses are catching on to its potential as a free marketing tool.
Schools, charities, and non-profit organisations are all blogging, because a blog is a great way to increase traffic to your website, and generate a buzz about your products or services.
Blogging allows you to engage with your customers, and potential customers, in a friendly and low pressure way. You are offering advice, information and tips free of charge to the reader, rather than a hard sell.

Build your reputation through blogging

Your blog can enhance your reputation as an expert in your field, and greatly improve your communication with your public. If your business is small, you can punch above your weight with a good blog and generate a lot of publicity for your products or services. And a blog can certainly make your company more approachable to customers.

blogging for business

blogging for business- picture by Paul Ingles

It’s possible to run online surveys once you have established your blog, and generate valuable research data to help your business develop. These benefits cost very little financially as most blogging software is open source and free of charge.

Plan your blog

Although a blog is written in an informal style, it still needs to be planned carefully. Work out what you want to achieve with your target audience and the topics you will cover in advance.
Is your primary goal to build a reputation as a “thought leader” in your industry, or is the aim to get to the top of the search engines? You might decide you want to add some advertising to your blog to generate extra revenue.
When your goals are clear, you can choose your topics and decide who will write it- yourself, or someone else.
The person selected needs to enjoy writing and be proficient at it. If you don’t have anyone in house, a freelance writer is often an affordable option. It’s probably more cost effective to pay a freelance to write your blog in an hour or two than spend a whole day working on it yourself when you need to be doing something else.

Tips for writing your blog

If you’re going to be writing for publication then you need to approach it with the same care as a good journalist. Check your facts carefully, and differentiate between facts and opinion.
Find ways of livening up your blog, like question and answer sessions, or an interview with a well-known figure or celebrity. Take a creative approach, and be as honest and open as possible without giving away commercial secrets or confidential information.
And stay positive- running down competitors is usually a turn-off and can even lead to legal problems. You don’t want your blog to turn into a giant argument that deflects attention away from your achievements.
Do include keywords in your blog. These are the words people will type into the search engines when looking for information related to the subject of your blog. Put lots of keywords in your headings, where Google will find them.
Once you’ve started, keep on posting. You will probably aim to write at least one post a week to keep people loyal to your blog.
Finally, let your readers interact and tell you their opinions. They are sure to thank you for it.