One of the most powerful ways to get started and stay inspired to keep writing is to participate in a writing group. Most people don’t have ready access to a writing group of any sort, much less one that specializes in lifestory writing, but take heart — a group is as near as the screen before you.
Online writing groups offer several advantages. You don’t have scheduling conflicts or deadlines, you can read and write at your own convenience, you can participate in your jammies, and you can even join under a user name (Yahoo ID) other than the one you sign checks with, so nobody needs to know who you “really” are. You may connect with writers in far flung parts places.
Several years ago I participated in a lifestory writing YahooGroup that was wonderfully active and helpful. Every time I posted a message that was more than a few sentences of appreciation or encouragement about another member, I copied my story into a growing WordPerfect document to create my own archive. It is fortunate that I did save copies, because that group suddenly went POOF! for reasons that never were disclosed.
What a sad thing to have that group disappear, but because it did exist, I have around 150 pages of stories that I wrote over a period of four years, mostly in response to things people mentioned in their own stories. Few of these stories are longer than four paragraphs. Most are tiny memories documenting the Good Old Days, adequately covered in two or three paragraphs. Topics are as diverse as family holiday traditions, camping trips, my experience with The Great Northeast Blackout of 1965, or my sons’ Dr. Demento inspired hijinks. Few of these stories would have been without the inspiration of the YahooGroup.
Today I have an invitation for all of you to join a new YahooGroup, Heartandcraft, set up in response to requests for a place for you gentle readers to put your own stories. The simplest way to subscribe is to send a totally blank e-mail to heartandcraft-subscribe(at)yahoogroups(dot)com. (Please note that you need to edit that e-mail address. I don’t want to generate dozens of spam members by posting a direct link!) If you have a Yahoo ID, you can click over to http://groups.yahoo.com/ and search for heartandcraft to join with your ID, which will allow you to search the archives, download the PowerPoint slide shows (there is a complete guide to proper use of punctuation marks there), and view related links.
If you need assistance in signing up, or if you have questions about anything relating to lifestory writing, please e-mail me directly at slippincott(at)adelphia(dot)net. By the way, your e-mail address will not be visible on the YahooGroups member page, so membership does not make you spam bait.
I hope you’ll join the group, then write a short story telling who you are and what interests you about writing lifestories, paste that story into the body of an e-mail and send it to heartandcraft(at)yahoogroups(dot)com. If you’re not quite ready to post, please join anyway, and hang around until you feel inspired and brave.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal