William Hammett, Independent Ghostwriter

Writing Sample ~ Nonfiction ~ How-To

Note: The following excerpt has been used with the permission of a former client and/or the publisher. Please note that I can adjust my prose style for a particular genre, and the following is not intended to represent my full range of styles or the number of genres I consider. For nonfiction, the level of complexity can be adjusted depending on client preference. .

Have you ever dreamed of writing a memoir, of making your life story into a book so that your endeavors, whether they've been triumphant or tragic, may learn from your experiences – your loves and adventures and travels? It is now possible to publish memoirs because of the revolution in self-publishing, also known as print-on-demand, or POD. Granted, the vast majority of these self-published memoirs are not bestsellers, but they are extraordinarily successful as family legacy memoirs, treasures that can be handed down through the generations in order to teach family members yet to born of their ancestry. It is an exciting opportunity afforded by the digital age, making a wealth of information available to future generations about lives well-lived.

But exactly how does one go about writing a memoir? After all, not everyone can write a book. That's true, and there are many editors available in the digital age that can help shape the narrative of your life. But first comes your story, and there are many steps you can take to shape the details of your life before you hand the process to a ghostwriter, editor, or publisher. Indeed, you may be surprised that, with a little coaching from a professional, you yourself can write your memoir. It's not as hard as you might think.

First, jot down your ideas on a legal pad, listing the things you want your readers to know about your life. You can write in sentences, in outline form, or merely scribble the words as they pop into your head. Your page might name events such as the following: childhood friends; burst appendix; death of my grandmother; Dad changes jobs; we move to Arizona; high school; I meet my wife; I join the Army; the hell of Vietnam; and my PTSD. After this, you might want to switch to an outline – nothing formal such as the outlining techniques you may have learned in school – so that you can establish a chronological order for life events.

Next, you may find it helpful to speak into a digital voice recorder as you reflect on the milestones of your life. You can describe your life as you might narrate the scenes of a movie. You are the omniscient creator and are free to add whatever details you want. This is, after all, your life. You can add vivid descriptions, emotions, and dialogue. Your recording may be brief or last for hours, for it is a common occurrence that the more life events you recall and verbalize, the more memories will come flooding back. If you forget something, don't worry. You can always add it later.

You can then start to transcribe what you have recorded, and depending on how detailed your descriptions have been, you may already be writing the first draft of your memoir. You're literally starting to write a book! If you don't have a detailed recording, you can nevertheless sit down at your PC and write your story based on your outline, scribbles – whatever you have been able to amass in the way of details that you believe your reader will be interested in.

You will want to highlight any special achievements that you're especially proud >of: associations with famous people, working in the entertainment business, finding your soulmate, overcoming a disease or disability, inventing a product that has revolutionized the world, discovering a unique way to parent – whatever you feel is something you want to crow about. Perhaps it is an inspirational event that will motivate people to change their lives. Everyone's story is unique, and you're no different than a painter putting a special blend of colors onto a blank canvas.

You should then proofread your manuscript, correcting any >mistakes and deleting material that you may deem unnecessary while simultaneously marking spots where you would like to add events that you may have forgotten in the preliminary steps described above. This is easier to do if you've printed a hard copy. Things look different on paper than they do on a computer screen. Then rewrite your manuscript, making the necessary changes and corrections.

At this juncture, you'll need to find someone to edit your work, preferably a professional editor. If you have superior language skills, however, a knowledgeable friend may be able to proof your work and spot missing words or grammatical errors if they're minimal. The point to remember is that all writers are edited, even Stephen King. It's up to you, however, whether or not to accept editorial recommendations. If you use an online editing service, be especially careful since many of these companies will try to recast your story and tell you that it needs to be rewritten by a professional writer. This may or may not be true.

When you're satisfied with your finished product, it's time to navigate the difficult decisions on where to publish your magnum opus. Unless you're a celebrity or are someone who has done something quite unusual in your life – and that may indeed be the case – you'e probably looking at self-publishing. There are many good print-on-demand companies, but you should choose one that is able to format your manuscript, provide a bar code and ISBN number, and produce cover art. Most of these companies can also put your memoir on the websites for Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Beware of these companies' promotional packages, however. They sometimes promise the sun and moon – promise to make you a bestselling author, which is not a reasonable expectation.

Congratulations! You've written a book, one that is like no other in the world because it is about your life, and it all started from a few notes on a piece of paper. When you're organized and motivated, you can accomplish just about anything. After all, look at what you just wrote. Look at the amazing things you accomplished in your life. This why the last step is to buy a good bottle of wine and celebrate. You did it!

 William Hammett

Dream big.

Write a book.



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