The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

What I Read This Week: Book 14/52

It’s in the small moments that life is truly lived.”

-Marion Roach Smith 

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my newsletter!

This week’s book, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life By Marion Roach Smith, was recommended to me by some of the lovely women whom I met at the Wandering Writers Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico, in February. 

We try to get together over Zoom at least twice a month, which is one of the best things I took from the retreat. We all hit it off so well that we make it a point to keep in touch, and thankfully, through Zoom, we can make that happen. Having other writer friends changes and enhances one’s writing experience, and I didn’t know what I was missing until I had it. 

So, while reading this week’s book, I realized that I would add more clarity to what I focus on while reading. When I pick up any book, I always try to ask myself these three questions:

  • What is the author trying to tell me?
  • How did the author communicate their message to me?
  • How did I feel about this book, or how did it make me feel?

I am new to Marion Roach Smith’s work, writing longer than I have been alive, and I am glad the ladies introduced us. The one thing that I love and honestly hate about reading is that no matter how many books one reads in a year, you will NEVER be able to read every book. But books meant for you will always find you, so I take book recommendations very seriously and only read or recommend something if it will bring value to someone’s life.

As a writer, I always search for good recommendations and sometimes procrastinate because I am convinced that other writers know some secrets I have yet to find. This is why Marion’s book came at the perfect time, as I am currently 50k words into the first draft of my travel memoir and sometimes find myself stuck with how the project is coming together. 

So, with Marion’s book, these are some of the lessons I took away from my reading experience:

  • There is NO such thing as a good draft. At first, a draft is meant to be word vomit on the page to get you started with your work. That it is you are only meant to fill the page; the craft comes later with editing.
  • Writing exercises can become a burden and prevent you from writing. The only way to get better is to write.
  • The only difference between successful and unsuccessful writers is how much you are willing to take criticism and do the work to improve your writing. 
  • Focus on the details. We tend to try to fit too much into a story. Things need to be digestible for our readers.
  • Write as if you are writing a letter. “Self-congratulations are never in the mail.” People don’t want to be preached to. They want to relate to you and see what an experience taught you and how you learned from it.

I am guilty of all of these issues. For example, I read this book the second my writing group discussed it, and while it was great and got me thinking, I instantly thought this book would light the fuse and magically turn me into a writer. My mentality of, I must read it, or I will never make it, sometimes leads me to forget that I am a writer and that I am meant to be writing to improve my craft. 

So, once she mentioned people reading too many writing books and doing too many writing exercises instead of writing, I knew I had fallen for it again. For some reason, when we are trying to master a new craft, we are constantly seeking outside validation or the secret to becoming a success, but the truth is that if you want to be a better writer, you have to write. 

This is why I enjoyed this book so much and plan on returning to it when I encounter obstacles. Writing is a complex craft; it takes years, if not decades, to become comfortable finding your voice. So, while writing exercises can be beneficial to get the juices flowing, books like this remind you you already have the skills within you. You have to be willing to face your weaknesses and edit until you have completed the work. 

Thank you for reading!

Tell me, Reader, what are you reading this week? Comment below!

I hope I have inspired you to pursue your dreams and that you will stick around to see how my journey turns out!

Share:
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link at no extra cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link