I recently released a new edition of my book, Your Legacy of Words: The Workbook. This is a tool I’ve used in conjunction with several legacy writing (personal and family history) classes.
On my Facebook page, a keen reader said:
Can you describe a little more fully what you’ve included in this workbook, please? What sort of tools or methods have you used to help the non-writer complete such a project?
So, I answered the question by describing the way I’ve designed the book to be both encouraging to the beginner, but useful for the memoir or self-history writer who has done a little more writing.
The book is designed to be a workbook—a starting point—and is filled with writing prompts and page after page of space to write.
I put the Your Legacy of Words workbook together after having taught several legacy writing classes, so I was relatively sure of the basic material I wanted to include. There is a brief introduction which addresses WHY someone might desire to use the workbook, and there is also a section on HOW to get started, maintain some momentum, and then improve on the initial notes and drafts.
But I also have a section that focuses on overcoming resistance to, you know, actually writing.
That is, after all, why most stories never get written: The story teller just doesn’t write it down.
Legacy writers come in to my class thinking they are different than fiction writers or even writers of other kinds of non-fiction: they think they have a different sort of motivation, and it will be easier for them. They are just talking about themselves, after all.
However, legacy writers will encounter resistance, just like the other writers will. It may come in different forms, but it will come, and it will fight against the urge or impulse to write, and left undressed, it will win.
Not a One-Time Thing
Here is a truth of writing and resistance, as I see it: Overcoming resistance is very easy, and extremely difficult. Overcoming resistance to writing requires only one thing: Actually writing. Something. Anything. Writing.
The difficulty comes in the constant NEED to overcome resistance. If I write well on MONDAY it doesn’t mean I won’t have to fight the same resistance battles on TUESDAY.
Legacy writers have resistance that manifests itself in different ways than some other writers. They may question WHY they would want to write about a life they don’t consider to be anything special, or wonder WHO would even care to read about the things they did (or didn’t do) in their life, or feel like they are being really self-centered and pompous to write about themselves…the list goes on.
And, yes, I do address those areas of resistance in the workbook, trying to help individual would-be legacy writers overcome the initial obstacles, but there is one way I don’t think legacy writers are any different than the would-be novelist who has never finished anything beyond chapter four of her novel: all the tools, tricks, tips, shortcuts, advice, and encouragement in the world cannot MAKE a person write the story they are supposed to write.
Only the writer can do that; only the individual can overcome the urge to do something (anything!!) other than write. No workbook will accomplish that. For some people, even the requests of loved ones and all the encouragement in the world won’t help them over that hurdle, because writing can be a little scary. It can be a bit intimidating. It takes some courage to get started, and it takes strength of character to keep going.
Have you had someone in your life you hoped would write about their life, but they haven’t? I’d love to hear some about it.