#5onFri: Five Things to Consider When Writing a Memoir That Covers Difficult Subjects

by Francesca Miracola
published in Writing

Writing a memoir that covers difficult subjects should be cathartic, and reading it should be soul-stirring. I believe the work an author puts into their inner world will determine the mark their work leaves on the world. If you want to free your soul and inspire hope for healing, then here are five things to keep in mind when writing a memoir that covers difficult subjects: 

1. Write from the right state of mind 

Chances are the difficult subjects you’re writing about helped shape you into the resilient and inspirational person you are today. So, while the book is still just a thought in your mind, before you write your first word, sit for twenty minutes in meditative silence, thanking the antagonist for the role they played in your awakening. (I never thought I’d be able to do this exercise, but I did!) 

Sharing your story with awareness will guide your hand in writing a soul-stirring work of art as opposed to an angry, vindictive account of what happened to you.

2. Go deep, not wide 

Choose one or two specific people as your target audience and write with only them in mind. It’s paralyzing to be preoccupied with what to say or how to say it so that it lands with everyone. 

I wrote my memoir hoping to reach a good friend and her twenty-year-old daughter. For years I witnessed them struggling with distressing circumstances and dysfunctional relationships, and I knew from experience they were stuck in this pattern because they weren’t taking an honest look within. Because I was determined to connect with them on the deepest level, eager for them to see themselves in me, and hopeful they’d be inspired to heal, the words flowed through me with ease.

3. Lay it all out 

Don’t let fear or shame hold you back from writing difficult scenes in your early drafts. Putting it all down on the page will help illuminate important components of your story that are too significant to keep hidden in the dark. 

Vulnerability and universal human experience are at the intersection where we connect. There are readers out there who need your honesty to heal their pain. I avoided writing a particular scene in my memoir and it still haunts me. I should have written it out, even if I decided to cut it from the final draft. At the very least, it would have been therapeutic to process it. Stay tuned, it might turn up in future material.

4. Shake it off 

Trauma is stored in the body and writing a memoir can trigger old wounds. There were days I emerged from my office rattled by the experience. Worse, there were days I acted out from my pain. I needed a way to decompress, otherwise I risked creating a future just like my past. 

Long walks calmed my overactive nervous system and with each quickened step, I shed a layer of anguish. Brisk walks brought me peace and helped me write with a clear mind and healed heart. Dancing can be fun too! Or running (but not for me).

5. Submit selflessly 

Send your completed manuscript out in the world with the intention of helping others heal. Yes, it’s fun to imagine the best-seller list, the movie rights, or the interview with Oprah, but deep down you know that’s not the point. I submitted my memoir that covered difficult subjects with the hope that if only one reader could find peace from my story, then my purpose would be fulfilled. I believe it’s our inner light that gets the green light.

There’s power in your story. Use it to heal the world.

Francesca Miracola is the author of I Got It from Here: A Memoir of Awakening to the Power Within, She Writes Press, April 2023. Francesca is a Life Coach, and her practice is based on the principles of A Course in Miracles. She founded Protagonist Within, LLC because she believes in order to be the protagonist of your own story you must look within to heal. She is a wife, a best friend, and above all, a mother. 

You can find Francesca on her website.

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