Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What do granny squares have to do with your memoir?

Some of you have declared that 2012 is The Year of Your Memoir!* Hooray!

Now that we’re one month into this new year, how are you doing?

Some of you are writing page after page after page. WooHooo! I’m cheering for you.

Others, I suspect, struggle to keep at it.

If that sounds like you, here’s a message of hope: Think “granny squares.”

Last Saturday at the new writers’ group we started in our town, I compared vignettes (chapters) to granny squares.

I told our group—some of them young mothers with several kiddies at home—about the years I had little ones and how hard it was to complete a knitting project—it took sooooo long to knit a sweater. (In fact, I never finished a lovely navy blue wool sweater, and I still feel bad about that. Eventually I gave it, and all the yarn and knitting needles, to the Salvation Army. I hope someone was inspired to finish it.)

Around that time I discovered granny squares—those little crocheted squares of yarn that were, in my case, four or five inches across. I could whip out one of those in fifteen minutes! Fifteen minutes and I was done! I thrived on the sense of accomplishment, of completion, of knowing that I was one step closer to a finished afghan.

As fifteen-minute openings appeared in my busy schedule, I crocheted more granny squares and before long, I had made enough to stitch them together into a small afghan. Taken in small pieces, my efforts added up and I completed my project.

The key was setting realistic goals, goals I could measure and achieve.

So think of your vignettes as granny squares. Work a little on them here and there.

Each time you complete a rough draft, congratulate yourself. Celebrate your accomplishment!

Just think: If you write one rough draft (say, three to five pages) once a month, you’ll have twelve stories at the end of 2012!

For those who are very busy, aim at one rough draft every two months, and you’ll have six stories for your memoir at the end of 2012!

The clock is ticking. Don’t let your memoir sit unfinished like my navy wool sweater.

Be intentional: Get started! Write your stories! You can do it! Yes, you can!

*References and links:
Linda Joy Myers and The Year of the Memoir,


  1. This is a great comparison. Encouraging to think we can write in little spurts. I also really enjoyed your last post about how stories make things come alive. That one made me think about my own writing.


    1. Olive Tree, you've already written a lot of materials on your blog that you could tweak slightly and use them in a memoir! Just think of all those little "granny square" stories you've been writing all this time! WooHOOOO!


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  3. A wonderful analogy since I love granny squares. I love your granny squares. The colours are beautiful. I haven't made any in so long but these days I like knitting dishcloths. It's relaxing and better than that, I have a sense of accomplishment for they don't take so long to knit :-)

    I've had two more sessions of writing chapters for my memoir. I've realized that I need to get some details from my mom before I can carry on with finishing some of my vignettes. I'm not sure when I can get the other details I need but need to work on a list first to make it easier to track. In the meantime, I work on what I can. I have a few writing sessions scheduled for the coming week. Slowly but surely :-)

    1. Right, Joyful -- you know that sense of accomplishment in finishing dishcloths. For me, it really helps to finish a "chunk" of whatever it is--whether it's cleaning house or writing a story or accomplishing any kind of goal.

      I'm tickled that you've been able to continue your writing. :) You are amazing to have scheduled times to write! Good for you!


  4. Wonderful idea... Many bite sized pieces = a large accomplishment!