When sharing your life story, particularly in permanent book form, where do you draw the line between valuable vulnerability, and TMI?
For instance, when my memoir “The Power of the Curve” comes out, do you want to hear about EVERY choice I made in my twenties (my rebel decade that followed a prior unblemished record of Pollyanna-like behavior)? Sorry… you won’t. This isn’t due to a lack of creative courage. No, the reason for my story filtering is purely a writing decision.
As an author it’s my job to take you on the most valuable journey possible. Therefore, it’s important that I select the scenes from my life story that offer specific transformative lessons that you can use in your life. It’s like selecting the exact right pearls to string together to make the perfect necklace. Each one has its own purpose on the thread.
When choosing scenes to include in your life story (whether in memoir form, blog, speech, or otherwise), work backwards from your writing goals.
- What is the ultimate lesson I want my readers to walk away with from this book?
- What information is revealed in this scene that will support that lesson?
- What do I reveal about myself in this scene that will help the reader better understand my choices (and their own)?
- What character traits do I show here that I would like my readers to model in their own lives (or not so much)?
Peeling the onion, being vulnerable, and sharing deeply with your readers is a powerful tool, but not if it’s used just for the sake of being dramatic. Keep your ultimate reader goals in your sights at all times and make sure all your choices as an author connect with it!
PS: Okay, so as it happens, there ARE quite a few um… “candid”… scenes from my twenties that made the cut based on the bullet points above. Stay tuned…