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This blog was featured on 11/27/2019
How to Write Your Best Memoir with Claire Bidwell Smith
Written by
She Writes
September 2019
Written by
She Writes
September 2019

This month the She Writes University Fall 2019 semester is kicking off and we got the chance to sit down and chat with each of the incredible instructors. From researching your novel to querying agents, this semester has something for writers at every stage in the game. 

On October 1, Claire Bidwell Smith is teaching her course on How to Write Your Best Memoir

In this class dedicated to the heart of memoir writing, best-selling author Claire Bidwell Smith, author of the acclaimed The Rules of Inheritance, takes students through an emotional and creative journey of the heart and soul to support them to access their stories, step into the story they’re meant to write, and then crack it all the way open. Memoir requires much of the storyteller—full transparency, self-understanding, and considering what the reader needs and wants from your story. It also requires writers to lay bare the truth, to be fully exposed—and vulnerable in the process. This class will support writers to go there, with compassion and understanding, providing tips that will support you to let your story shine, all the while providing meaning to your waiting readers.

SW: Briefly set the scene for your writing habits: Where do you write? How do you write? What's your routine? 

I'm a busy mom of young kids so I can't get too precious about my writing time. I've written three books and had three babies in the last ten years. Basically I write whenever and wherever I can. I get up early, stay up late, write in the car, write while nursing babies, write in my head while I drive the kids to school. If I waited around for the perfect time and setting I would never get a word on the page!

SW: What is the first thing you can remember writing?

The first thing I remember writing is a short story about two ladybugs who got married, in first grade. I moved on to stories about squirrels and lizards after that, bad poems in middle school, epic-angsty ones in high school, and then memoir in my early twenties. 

SW: Describe a moment when your own writing scared you or surprised you.

It took me almost 7 years to write my first book. I wrote two whole versions of it that went in the trash. But the third version poured out of me and is largely unchanged in the published version. I was so surprised that that last version came out so quickly, but I never could have written it without the first two terrible drafts. 

SW: At what point did you begin to truly feel like a “writer”?

I didn't call myself a writer until my first publication - a restaurant review for Time Out New York when I was 24, but looking back, I've been a writer my whole life and I wish I'd called myself one sooner. 

SW: What’s one of the lessons in your She Writes University class that you really wish YOU had learned earlier in your writing career?

That no one writes a perfect draft, sentence, chapter, scene right off the bat. We have to let ourself write awful versions of things before we can get to the good stuff. 

SW: Why do you feel it’s important to offer a writing class to other women writers through She Writes University?

Writing is one of the most healing, empowering, and energizing things we can do for our souls. I want women to always feel inspired to write. 

Enroll in She Writes University for your chance to learn from amazing female authors!

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