More and more lately, I’m seeing the power of writing a memoir or sharing one’s personal stories. The books that come out of these endeavors are nearly secondary to the intrinsic gifts that are bestowed along the way. Simply put, writing our story serves us and serves others in healing. In fact, it typically serves us (the authors) first and then our readers, even if we go into it thinking of our readers first and ourselves last.
When I originally set out to write Dear Universe, I Get it Now I originally thought it was to prove to my future clients what I could do by way of coaching them on writing or ghosting their books. My book was a means to serve my business. What I realized as I wrote it was that it deeply served me.
Writing my memoir served my life-long dream to write my own book and have my name on the cover. It served my desire to model for my son what it means to be true to yourself and follow your dreams. It served in supporting the healing process in parts of my life that were still tender and slightly opened wounds.
By the time it was due out in the world, it had left its mark on me. I felt proud, empowered, strong, and brave for putting my life into pages for others to read. And when the reviews and testimonials started rolling in, illustrating how my book had touched others just at the right moment–helping them feel a little braver, inspiring them to pursue a passion a little more, encouraging them to reflect on their own life’s lessons–I was awestruck by the power this book of mine had to both serve me and serve others.
Was this a fluke? Was I too sentimental or too emotionally attached? Did I only feel this because I had been dreaming so long of authoring my own book? Was this whole thing magical only to me while to everyone else it was nothing special?
The answer is no.
Because I’ve seen it over and over again in the work I do with clients whether I’m coaching them in writing their own books or I’m ghosting them. The books they write serve them first, in ways they didn’t expect or in the ways they hoped but didn’t quite know were possible. And then their books serve others.
For Susan, she wanted to use her story to spread hope to those touched by overdose. To use her experience to help them discover that their lives after loss didn’t have to be ones to merely endure. She had a clear understanding of how she wanted her book, Life After Kevin, to serve her readers and change her corner of the world. Yet, as she wrote, she also discovered how healing it was to memorialize her son in such a beautiful and honest way, and how much he continued to be with her on her journey. These things happened before her book ever got to a reader’s hands.
Lynnellen is working on a novel that is based on true events and the overarching ideas are how poverty, illiteracy, mental illness, and abuse can be generational and that we have a choice to end the cycles we are born into. While working on her book has been challenging and, at times, painful, it’s also been validating to honor her own truth and acknowledge her strength, perseverance, and resiliency throughout her life. Writing her book serves her understanding of her experience and her self. What more will she discover as she writes?
For P.A., her memoir casts a light on something often not discussed but that’s more prevalent than we realize–sibling abuse. Growing up in a toxic and neglectful home with an abusive brother meant experiencing trauma at a young age and spending a lifetime trying to reverse it and ensure she created a home and family of her own that was unlike the one she grew up in. While her book will serve a great many who have similar experiences, she recently mentioned how writing her memoir serves her in a way she didn’t expect–integrating various fragmented parts of herself back into one person. It’s been deeply healing work that doubles down on what she’s been working on in therapy.
Jess is writing a self-help book but one that is packed with her personal life experiences–both messy moments and magical ones. She entered into her project with the aim to support her readers in finding their own inner glow, peace, and balance. She’s had service to her readers at the forefront since the beginning, but has also recognized that writing this book is a service to herself–to honor her truth and rewrite her own narrative. She’s found more self-love and self-grace by writing her story into the pages of her book.
For Sam, he knows that he wants his story to help open up conversations around child sexual abuse within the church and how to prevent it. Undoubtedly, his book will serve those who read it by forcing their eyes open to something they otherwise might not want to see but know is there. But what’s also happening as he tells his story is that he’s becoming stronger through the use of his voice and in sharing his experience. His book serves him by activating different aspects of healing and will likely encourage readers (and other victims) to go in search of their own.
Writing a book, especially memoir or one that heavily relies on personal story to illustrate one’s points, is powerful. To me, the book is nearly the byproduct of the journey. The main thing that has resulted isn’t the book itself, but one’s ability to strengthen their voice, or see themselves differently, or rewrite their narrative, or honor their experience… Or some beautiful combination of these.
Writing our story serves us and serves others. Just imagine if we all leaned in to share our stories. What healing would result? How much more free, aligned, and authentic would we feel? How healed would our people and our world be?
I often tell my coaching clients to write the first draft (or two or three) for yourself and worry about polishing it for others later. Because sometimes we need to just say/write our story for ourselves. To externalize it. Sit with it. And see it in new ways. Ways that allow us a different and deeper understanding of our Self, our journey, and our outcomes.
Writing to serve ourself first can be the most cathartic thing. And I could argue that alone is enough. Not all things have to be turned into a book for others’ consumption for it to be worthy to do. Writing down our story just for us could be just the thing. If it serves you, and serves your healing and understanding of your self, then do it.
No matter if you choose to write your story solely for you, or whether you aim to write it for others, know that it will serve. It will serve you. It will serve your readers. It will serve the world. So, write.
Looking to get started on writing your memoir? Grab The 5-Step Writing Guide for Finishing Your Memoir that will Light Up Your World and Ours.