So where do you start? How do you actually write that memoir?
How do you get your story to come to life on the page? How do you navigate the technical aspects of memoir? How do you make your story sing?
And what do you do when you get stuck?
Hi, I'm Tanja Pajevic, author of The Secret Life of Grief, winner of the Nautilus Silver Book Award in memoir.
I have 20 years of experience helping others tell their stories and I want to help you tell yours. From teaching at universities to consulting with businesses to teaching workshops in the larger community, I’ve learned one lesson over and over again: there’s incredible power in telling your story.
Your story matters. Let’s get it into the world!
Why memoir? Why now?
Because true stories are powerful. They inspire us on a deeply personal level. As Brene Brown says, we’re hardwired for story. It’s how we learn.
As a writer, teacher and long-time reader of memoir, I can tell you that the freedom that comes from telling your story is like no other.
A memoir allows you to share your wisdom, absolutely. The actual process of writing that memoir, though, also expands the constraints of what you thought was possible for yourself. I’ve seen this over and over again with my clients: writing your memoir allows you to move into a deeper, more authentic sense of self.
That’s an incredibly rewarding journey. At times, it can also be challenging.
And trying to write a memoir without support can feel like wrestling an octopus. Where do you start? How do you narrow down your story? How do you shape it? What do you do when the initial excitement wears off and you find yourself in the mucky middle of writing a book? How do you get back on track? And how do you navigate the emotional terrain of delving into the heart of who you are?
Structure, accountability and encouragement, I’ve found, are key. So is a consistent writing practice. Learning the craft and technique of memoir are also essential.
In this clear, easy-to-follow, 6-week online course, I’ll walk you through the specifics of writing memoir, show you how to set up a consistent writing schedule, and help you navigate the sticky points that come with writing your life story.
Your story matters. And the world needs your gifts, perhaps now more than ever.
How to Write Your Memoir
Ready to tell your story, but aren’t sure where to start? In this 6-week online course, we’ll delve into the heart of your story, uncover its transformational power, and teach you how to bring your story to life on the page. I’ll walk you through the craft and technique of memoir, show you how to create a writing schedule that works for you, and help you navigate writer’s block as well as the complex ethical questions that come from sharing your life story.
We’ll cover the ingredients of a compelling memoir, from finding your story’s specific structure to creating a cohesive narrative to ensuring that your story’s main characters and pivotal scenes are powerfully rendered on the page. We’ll also discuss your book’s larger path in the world, exploring traditional publishing as well as indie publishing and deciding which is a better fit for you.
A Practical Note
Writing memoir can be like trying to fit together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle—every piece must fit together in order to creative a cohesive whole. The keys to that puzzle, I’ve found, are structure, accountability and encouragement. A consistent writing practice is also important. Ideally, you’ll want to write every day, though 2-3 hours a week is also beneficial.
Will you finish your memoir in 6 weeks? Probably not. Will it take 10 years? It doesn’t need to! Everything in this course is designed to give you exactly what you need to a) get your book written, b) navigate the emotional terrain of writing your life story and c) support you throughout the process.
As with anything, writing a book requires some elbow grease. How quickly you complete your memoir is up to you. However, most memoirists discover that writing a memoir is a bit like baking a cake. There’s an alchemy that happens in the baking process—it’s not something that can be rushed. Setting aside an hour or two a day to write can significantly shorten the process.
In this first module, we’ll get clear on why you’re writing this book. Who is your book’s specific audience? What do you want to accomplish with this book?
We’ll also talk about narrative arc and get clear on the parameter of your story. Memoirs cover a particular time or transformative aspect of your life—not your entire life story. We’ll identify the key scenes of your book and get clear on what to include, as well as what to leave out.
What will my mother say when she reads this?! Can my ex sue me?! These are common concerns when writing memoir, and we’ll get to the heart of the issue now, freeing up extra time and energy you can funnel into your writing.
We'll also help you set up a consistent writing schedule you can stick to. Since writing a memoir can bring up strong emotions, we’ll delve into different ways you can make the writing process safe and support yourself throughout the process.
In this module, we’ll delve into tension, pacing and narrative arc, arguably the most important ingredients of a compelling memoir. You’ll learn how and when to summarize events, as well as when to unpack them in real-time on the page.
Why are these techniques so important?
Because a memoir without a clear story is hard to follow. Although a memoir without tension can be beautifully written, it may very well lose the reader. That’s why it’s so important we lay down a strong foundation for our book before adding skylights.
When you’re writing about real people, it can be tough to fully capture them on the page. In this module, I’ll show you how to fill out your characters so they’re living, breathing people that your reader cares about.
No stereotypical, two-dimensional characters here!
One of the biggest challenges for new writers is capturing dialogue on the page. In this module, I’ll teach you all my tips and tricks for creating effective, realistic, and gasp, life-like, dialogue on the page.
You’ll learn where to slice and dice (Ginsu knives, anyone?) as well as where to expand. And you’ll have fun doing it!
In this module, we’ll talk about platform (what it is and why you need it) as well as the pros and cons of traditional and indie (or self) publishing.
You’ll learn what a book proposal is and whether or not you’ll need one for your memoir. You’ll also learn how to write a successful book proposal, with a step-by-step outline to walk you through the process.
We’ll also cover the basics of indie publishing, including how to produce a high-quality product. We’ll get clear on budgeting and discuss which steps to hire out, as well as which ones to do yourself.
What do you do when the initial excitement’s worn off and you’re stuck in the mucky middle? In this module, we’ll address solid strategies for writer’s block as well as the fear of being seen. And we’ll help you move through the muck so you can get to the finish line.
You’ll discover the Golden Rule that successful authors religiously follow, as well as how many revisions it takes to get to the center. You’ll also learn how to tell when your manuscript is ready for a professional editor, saving you precious time and money.
Gail D. Storey is the author of I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award, Foreword IndieFab Book of the Year Award, Nautilus Silver Award, the Colorado Book Award, and the Barbara Savage Award. I Promise Not to Suffer was praised by Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, as “Witty, wise, and full of heart…as inspiring as it is hilarious, as poignant as it is smart.”
Gail’s first novel, The Lord’s Motel, was praised by the New York Times Book Review as “a tale of unwise judgments and wise humor.” Her second novel, God’s Country Club, was a Barnes &Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection.
Her website, including the book trailer for I Promise Not to Suffer, is gailstorey.com.
She is married to Dr. Porter Storey, a national leader in hospice and palliative medicine. They live in Boulder, Colorado. A former administrative director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, Gail now meditates, jumps out of cakes, and writes a blog at gailstorey.com, not necessarily all at the same time.
Her literary papers are archived at the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.
Melanie Mulhall, founder of Dragonheart Writing and Editing, helps writers manifest their dreams through writing coaching, editing, and shepherding projects to produce words that sing, dance, and get attention. Her work is about fostering a working relationship of trust, understanding, and fun with the writer. It is maintaining the author`s voice in a way that makes them say, "That sounds just like me, only better!" It is about honoring the book and honoring the process.
Melanie has been awarded four First Place (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013), two Second Place (2014, 2017), two Third Place (2009, 2016), and a fistful of Merit EVVY Awards in the Technical Category of Editing.
Nancy Saltzman is a frequently sought after inspirational speaker nationwide. She also is the author of the best selling memoir Radical Survivor, a love story filled with hope following the death of her husband and two sons in a small plane crash. Shari Caudron, award-winning author wrote, “Saltzman’s story, told with honesty, insight and laugh-out-loud flashes of humor, teaches us that it is possible to embrace life in the wake of tragedy”. Radical Survivor received recognition as Shelf Unbound’s Notable Indie in 2015 and E-lit’s Silver (2nd) place winner for memoirs published in 2012.
Dr. Saltzman grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and moved to Colorado Springs in 1970 to attend Colorado College. After graduation she began a 32 year career in education as a teacher and administrator, and retired in 2006 to write her memoir, Radical Survivor. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver. During her career Saltzman received the prestigious Milken Family Foundation Award for her work in education, was recognized as a Colorado National Distinguished Principal, and awarded the American Cancer Society’s Sword of Hope.
Patti Thorn is a co-founder of BlueInk Review, a service that offers professional book reviews of independently published titles. Since its inception, BlueInk has reviewed more than 7,000 titles from across the globe. Thorn also served for 28 years as a writer and editor at the Rocky Mountain News, which had a daily circulation of 300,000 at the time of its closing in February, 2009. She spent the last 12 years of her tenure as chief book critic and editor of the book review pages. The section earned acclaim for its incisive and timely reviews, as well as for Thorn’s weekly column about books and the publishing industry. Thorn is the three-time recipient of first place awards for Arts and Entertainment Criticism from the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists. In addition, she is the co-author of Fun Places to Go with Children in Colorado, published by Chronicle Books. The book has enjoyed two printings and sold over 20,000 copies. She has also served as an independent editor for both fiction and nonfiction.
Register by midnight September 17th for a bonus group coaching kick-off call.
$139 per month for 3 months
$209 per month for 3 months
$309 per month for 3 months
Working with Tanja was an inspiring, empowering experience! She is the kind of mentor that makes you feel not only supported and encouraged in your writing endeavors, but also in life’s challenges. –Sherrie Scott
Thank you sooo much for this class!!! You've provided me with answers to questions I did not even know I needed to ask. I feel what I learned from you on the very fist module was worth the price of the entirety of the course. –Marcella Moy
I am so grateful to work with Tanja ... she reignited a light in me that believes not only in achieving this project, but making it successful. Much gratitude for the brilliant support. – Patrice Bazile
My book has sat on a shelf for literally years. Tanja has given me the support, confidence and, especially, the information I need to get it out into the world... the course has helped incredibly! –Jennifer Hinton
Tanja has the amazing talent of creating a totally positive and magical environment where writers can feel comfortable and confident enough to share their most intimate work while giving deeply reflective and creative feedback. –S.S.
Tanja is more a "book therapist" than coach because she's experienced firsthand a writer's inner critic saying, "No one wants to hear your story." Offering the perfect balance of "Do better" with "You can do it," she's capable of simply getting authors to sit butt in chair and write. Even as a professional writer myself, I couldn't have committed to my memoir without her compassionate guidance. --Heather Mundt
Tanja’s class has helped me jumpstart my ‘book,” the one that’s been lying around in my office on sticky notes and scraps of paper for 22 years. She’s a master at conveying the process of writing, how to focus and what to do when you’re starting to go in circles and feel overwhelmed. I’ve gotten perfect coaching and great tools to stay on task, but more than that, insights into both the mechanics and heart of writing that bring me wholeheartedly into the process. -- Kim Mooney
Tanja’s course has given me the inside track on what it really takes to get a book into the world ... Her course is incredibly robust yet broken into digestible, well-organized modules with concrete take-always and follow-up exercises. She leaves no stone uncovered and makes sure everyone feels confident in the responses she provides. I’m so happy I was able to take this class! –Sarah Boyd
If for any reason you feel like this course isn't a good fit for you, I'll refund your tuition 100% within the first 10 days. No hoops! Just email me.
Q: Who is this course for?
A: This is a course for anyone who wants to write a memoir.
If you haven’t started your memoir yet, this course is for you—it covers all the tips, teachings and techniques you need to create a powerful, moving memoir, all for an affordable price.
If you’ve already started (or even finished) your memoir, this course will still be beneficial for you. You’ll get an eagle-eyed view of what’s working as well as what’s not working--helping you fix and tighten up your manuscript before submitting it to an editor, saving you time, money and frustration.
Q: How will the content be delivered and what will it include?
A: Each week you’ll get an email from Ruzuku, our learning platform. When you log in to the dashboard, you’ll see the material for that week’s lesson--a mix of videos, audios and downloadable documents. Your materials will be available to you to access whenever and wherever it's convenient for you.
Coaching in the secret FB group for the Supported and Strategic level will be available from M-F.
The live coaching calls for the Supported and Strategic level of the course will be recorded and available to you to access at a later date if you're unable to attend live.
Q: What's the schedule?
A: Each module opens Tuesday morning, and will remainsavaible for you to access at your leisure.
Q: How much support is *really* included?
A: If you join the Standard level of this course, you’ll be navigating the materials on your own.
If you join the Supported or Strategic level, you'll also receive access to our private, secret Facebook group after you register, where I'l be coaching you every day during the week--and by that I mean real coaching, not just "nice work!" You'll also get support from the rest of our fabulous community. Plis. you'll also get access to our 2 live group coaching calls, which will be recorded in case you can't make it live.
Those of you choosing the Strategic option will also have a 50 page developmental manuscript review as well as a private session with Tanja.
Q: How much time do I need for this course?
A: I’d suggest setting aside 1-2 hours a week to watch the videos, do the homework and get feedback from your fellow writers.
From there, it depends on how quickly you want to go with your manuscript. My recommendation is to set aside 5 hours a week to write. If you can only write 2-3 hours a week, then start there. The key is consistency. (See "A Practical Note" above.)
Q: I already know I have a schedule conflict. What if I miss a week or fall behind? How long will I be able to access the course?
A: No problem! You can take this course at your own speed--there's no rush to get to the finish line. All of the teachings and modules will remain available to you for at least two years (and probably much longer).
If you’re taking the Supported or Strategic level of the course, you'll be able to send in your questions in advance if you can't make a call. The live calls will be recorded and available to you to access at a time that's right for you.
Q: I'm having technical troubles signing up.
A: Email me at email@example.com and we’ll get you set up. (If you don’t hear from me within 48 hours, please check that my response isn't trapped in your spam filter.)
Q: Any other questions?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'l get back to you as soon as I can!
Q: What if this course brings up a lot of big life stuff?
A: That’s a common occurrence while writing memoir, and one of the reasons I recommend reaching out to a therapist if you find yourself needing additional support.
Although I can give you lots of tips and techniques to help make this a safe process, please remember that I’m a writer and teacher, not a trained therapist.
Because the world needs your gifts, perhaps now more than ever.
Your story matters.