Seven Tips for Writing the Deep Core Story Only You Can Tell

Today’s guest post is written by blogger and memoir writer Kathleen Pooler.

Tips on writing your core personal story in a memoir“Say what you have to say, not what you ought.” – Henry David Thoreau

How do you get to the point of writing from deep-in-your-core, from your heart, to tell the story only you can tell?

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone feels the need to write about it. Or maybe they don’t feel they have a story worth telling.

I think it starts with believing we have a story to tell.

I’d like to share some tips I have learned in the three years I have been working on my memoir about the power of hope through faith, tips about climbing out of the abyss of divorce, spousal abuse, alcoholism in a spouse and son, cancer, and heart failure to live the life of joy and gratitude I am living today.

Tip #1    Write with Intention-

I had to find my own purpose for telling my story. When I looked around to see the joyful life I was living, I realized that I wanted to share how the power of hope through faith has helped me to overcome many obstacles. Why? Because maybe others with similar challenges will relate and gain strength for their own life through my story. I had a mission.

Tip#2    Connect with Your Own Purpose for Writing Your Story

Once I was clear on why I wanted to write my story; I was able to develop a deep connection to it. Consequently, it has guided me in my writing. If I am clear, the reader will be clear. I can dig deeper and speak from deep-in-my-core.

Connecting with my story, the one only I can tell, allows me to believe I have a story to tell.

But first, I have to get by my inner critic. You know, the one who says:

  • What makes you think anyone will want to read your story?
  • Your story isn’t that unique.
  • You can’t write that well anyway.
  • Who cares?

Tip #3    Put your inner critic in his/her place.

Here’s a great post by Cheryl Stahle, author of Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing, on how to do that. I love the idea she poses of talking to stuffed animals! Do whatever it takes.  I find having a deep-in-my-core belief in my story does help keep this pesky one at bay.

Tip #4   Trust in the process

Sometimes when I start to write, I have no idea how the story will unfold. I may start in the middle and if I let the writing flow, I eventually find the beginning and end.

Go with the flow and the heart of your story will reveal itself.

Tip #5  Write Daily

Sometimes just the act of writing words unlocks the creative juices:

  •  Free write- put any words on paper even if they don’t make sense.
  • Journal- thoughts, feelings, reactions

Tip #6 Take time to pause and think

This will help you tap into memories and make connections about their meaning from your adult perspective. Sometimes my best ideas flow when I take time to walk in the garden or sit in church.

Writers, we really are working when we’re staring out the window!

Tip #7 Shape your writing into a story

Once I connected with the heart of my story through journaling, writing vignettes, reflecting, I began to think about my story structure, which I explain in this post.

Memoir has a transformative power for both the writer and the reader. I want to invite my readers into my experience in a way that connects them to the heart of their own stories.

I am in the process of shaping my story with a goal of completing my first draft by January, 2013. I will take the time it takes to write it right because I do believe deep in my core that I have a story to tell and that I am the only one who can tell it.

How about you? Have you found the heart of the story? Do you have a deep-in-you-core belief that you have a story only you can tell?

About the Author

Kathleen Pooler is a writer and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner who is working on a memoir about how the power of hope through her faith in God has helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog and can be found on Twitter @kathypooler and on LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads, and Facebook (Kathleen Pooler).

Photo credit: “Heart in Hand” by Marx Falardean /Creative Commons



  1. Thank you so much for this opportunity to guest post on your blog, Nina. I’d love to hear how others feel about finding and writing the stories only they can tell.

  2. Kathy, thanks for posting a concise list for approaching the core of our stories. I don’t have to tell you how beneficial your posts on writing memoir have been and continue to be for me.

    Nina, thanks so much for hosting my mentor and guru!

    • It was my pleasure, Sherrey, and I hope she’ll post again. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Sherrey, I appreciate your kind feedback and I have to say it works both ways. I have been so inspired by your story- especially your Letters to Mama. I really believe we inspire each other and I’m thrilled our paths have crossed. I appreciate your presence and ongoing support on my journey. We need each other because as we know- memoir writing is not for sissies!

  3. Kathy,

    The more I hear about your story, the more amazing it sounds. I can tell that you have answered the call to write from the depth of your being. And I know you will persist in writing just as you have persisted in life. Joy and peace to you.

    • Oh my gosh, Shirley, your kind words are so touching and encourage me to keep “writing from the depth of my being.” Much appreciated! I feel so grateful we have met. Your support along the way has meant so much to me. I’m taking many lessons from you and and looking forward to reading your memoir! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Joy and peace right back to you.

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