The other day I saw a Substack newsletter from Grant Faulkner about quitting and that sometimes, giving up is okay. It spoke to me because there are moments when I feel like giving up on my memoir. At this phase, just the mere thought of publishing feels impossible. But I know I’m not alone and I’m certain this is something every writer experiences.
To be clear, I’m not giving up. But Grant’s newsletter happened to come to me when I really wanted to. Memoir writing can be like picking at a scab and reopening the wound over and over. It can also be incredibly cathartic and healing—I guess I’ve experienced both.
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In the past, whenever I wanted to give up on a project, I would attempt to muscle my way through it. I can be really rigid with my routines and expectations of myself.
But this time, I’m allowing myself to be okay with not working on my memoir every single morning.
It shall be
Recently, I was listening to an episode about tattoos on The Mel Robbin's Podcast. She had the words “It shall be” inked on the inside of her wrist.
I thought about those three words and how frustrated I felt about my memoir. Figuring out the structure and my scenes confused me. I hated that I had no immediate answers.
But then I thought, am I trying to be too in control? I remembered that in life, I’m never in control no matter what my brain says. As Mel said, let go and it shall be.
For me, it meant that I had to trust that my story would unfold, no matter what. I will eventually figure it out. Maybe I need to just be patient.
A new way of working on my memoir
These days when I work on my memoir, I sometimes write shorter scenes. Some mornings I stare at my scene list on Scrivener, moving things around and figuring out if it makes sense.
I’m trying to think more carefully about the story and ask myself how it’s relevant for readers. Would they care to continue reading? What emotional connections are there?
Other days, I don’t work on it at all and instead, let things marinate. I use this time to work on other projects that are related to my memoir, like this newsletter. I also write stories about my brother on my other Substack.
Last week when I was visiting my parents, I recorded them using Garageband and interviewed them about the 1992 L.A. Riots. This is definitely a scene in my memoir, so getting their take was important to me.
Oo, a podcast
But I also recorded them in the hopes of maybe pursuing a future podcast series about the L.A. Riots. I’ve never sound-mixed a podcast before, but I’ve edited plenty of videos and always feel so satisfied when I watch the final piece.
Whether I decide to do a podcast or not isn’t super important at this point. Just dabbling in the idea of it gives me the motivation to keep going with my story.
I am certain these new pathways will spark more ideas that will strengthen my memoir's structure.
Giving myself some space means I am still enjoying the process—which is so important. If that ever dies, this project will inevitably go down with it.
I am okay with taking my time and creating a memoir that is worth reading. It’ll just take longer to reach the finish line. 😌
What do you do when you feel like quitting?
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What do I do? Slam the laptop lid closed and dance in the kitchen while making awesome food.
Do cleaning or organizing (stuff that needs to be done anyway, will make a nicer environment for enticing the Muse, and puts my brain into Figuring Stuff Out Mode but not about the issue in question. That hangs out churning in the subconscious.)
Beat the snot out of my punching bag.
Go for a hike somewhere gorgeous, suck in fresh air, and cuddle with trees.
Oh yeah. And I do obsessive searches on the specific issue I’m gnashing my teeth over...you know...like what to do when I want to chuck my whole memoir project in the trash. Which leads me to...ahem...other people wanting to tap out on their memoirs and writing about it.
Then I smash Subscribe buttons and become obnoxiously excited in their comments section. 🤪🥰🤓
Thanks for some more life buoy.
I had a different problem with my memoir. I was worried something dire would happen to me before I could finish it. But you post has me thinking about Scrivener again. I'm still using Google Docs because I didn't know what else to use when I began writing down my memories.