Thursday, February 5, 2015

They can sneak up on you: Benefits of writing your memoir

We write our stories because we believe others—our readers—will benefit from them. And they do.

But many of us are surprised at how beneficial writing our stories can be for usthe writers.

The insights, the healing, the clarity, the hope, the joy—marvels that have been there all along, hidden to us—well, they can all kind of sneak up on us writers. They can delight us. They can change our lives for good.

"Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us," writes Henri Nouwen. "The writing itself reveals what is alive. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write." 

"There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published," says William Zinsser. "Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is that it allows you to come to terms with your life narrative. It also allows you to work through some of life's hardest knocksloss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failureand to find understanding and solace."

Elizabeth Andrews writes, "The writing itself becomes a means for spiritual growth. Often the writer stumbles on this strange occurrence mid-draft, suddenly discovering that writing can be an avenue for prayers, or a means of wrestling with angels, or a form of contemplation."  

"We find the effort of organizing our thoughts and memories in story form deepens their meaning, and we often mine gems of insight and joy from the dirt of the past," writes Sharon Lippincott. "Life takes on richer meaning and becomes more satisfying."  

Sharon also writes, "All of the dozens of memoir authors I've asked have confirmed that writing has changed their view of life, leaving them happier, healthier, and more serene."  

"In thinking back, we see [God's] hand and see how far we have come. There's no way to predict specifics in the future, but if we see God's hand and how he has blessed us, it totally prepares us to live in joyful and blessed ways." (Pastor Sid Tiller's sermon, A Thousand Generations, based on Psalm 100:5; August 21, 2011)

We receive so many blessings
by taking the time and
making the effort to write our stories.
What are some of the blessings and benefits
you've discovered?
Be sure to leave a comment below or on Facebook.


  1. Replies
    1. Ah, Lia, you're making me smile! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. Keep writing! Keep being happy all over! :)

  2. I think a memoir comes alive when writing it stirs up new insights. In my memoir, as a child I retreated to an imaginary world during abuse - had an imaginary mother and father who comforted me. One day I was asking God where was He during the abuse. He said to me, "Who do you think your imaginary mother and father was?" I also found other ways God was present during the abuse years. Made a big difference in my life.

    1. Wow, Heather, what powerful stuff has come from writing your stories! God is so good to continue comforting you and healing you and giving you valuable insights. Other people need to know your stories, too. Many blessings for others are written right into your memoir. God bless you, Heather.

  3. Thank you Linda for adding your voice to the growing number who remind people of the personal value of writing without concern for the finer points of grammar, plot, and all that great crafty stuff. Eloquent stories are a wonderful gift to readers, whether family or the world at large. Writing for self discovery is a gift you give to yourself!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sharon, and for your encouraging words. You point out something important, something I think about a lot. Not all of us are aiming to publish big-time and go on the speaking circuit and do book signings, etc. Our families are the most important people we should be writing for, and then a few of us who are willing to work on grammar, plot, all the editing, etc., can seek to go the professional publication route. The most important thing for most of us here at SM 101 is to create a gift for our families, and then a wider audience if that seems doable. Thanks for the ways you participate in the wider circles of those writing life stories, Sharon. You and your how-to book, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, are such gifts! (Your memoirs are, too.)