The Memoir Coach Blog

Perspective in Memoir

As a memoir coach I read a lot of memoirs.  And  a lot of people ask me when is the time to write a memoir?  I think there are a few elements to consider before taking on the task of putting memories to paper.

Many of you are familiar with Cheryl Strayed the author of Wild, which was later released into a movie.

Cheryl took her hike in the summer of 1995, and her book just released in 2012. When asked in an interview why she had waited so long to write the book, Cheryl said:

“For a number of reasons. It took me years of apprenticing myself to the craft before I could write a book…. I don’t write about something unless I feel a stirring inside of me to do so and it wasn’t until 2008 that I felt that in relation to my experience on the PCT. I think the years between my hike and writing about it made for a better book. I gained perspective that I wouldn’t have had if I’d written about it immediately.”

I love two things about what she said:

1) “Years of apprenticing myself to the craft.”

2) “I gained perspective.”

I believe these two elements are what made this such an excellent memoir. Think about this when considering whether it’s the right time for your memoir.

→ In order to tell your story effectively so that it has the maximum impact, you’ll probably need to spend years apprenticing yourself to the craft; that is, actively studying, learning and improving as a writer.

→ And in order for your story to resonate with deeper truth, you should have enough distance from it that you’ve gained perspective. When you’re still too close to it, you won’t be able to write it well.


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And what have you done with those memories?

Last night I had dinner with a friend I met over twenty years ago.  It was wonderful connecting to someone who knew me when I was in my early thirties.  The beauty in reconnecting with another person is the memories I had forgotten about she remembered and vice versa.

How can I help you record those memories of your life?  I have many ways to connect,  I have classes in the Palm Springs area a few times a year, I have retreats all over the world, I have private retreats in my home and I also travel to the homes of my students who would rather me come to them.

One option is the Online Writing Club that will give you monthly lessons with a small group of other men and women who like you want to learn and write….

Send me an email or sign up for my newsletter!

You can email me at

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The Craft of Writing

As a writer I will always work on my craft.  I will write and sometimes edit immediately.  Other times I will write and let it sit for awhile.  Sometimes what I write I want to just let it be…already feeling like I can’t add to it to make it better.  As with most things, you work on what you want to get better at.  About 3 years ago I had the idea of the Online Writing Club.  I took the idea and worked on it, presented it to my students and some signed up.  I learned a lot that first year and now 3 years later I am still molding this project and making it the best I can.  Each year I learn and grow, along with my students.  I am currently signing up a new group of students for the online club for 2018.  Are you wanting to be a part of a small group of writers wanting to grow in their craft?

If so, I hope you will read about the online writing club here on my website and consider joining us!

email me if you have any questions!
A Writers Tools

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Learning your craft…

As a writer I will spend probably the rest of my life trying to be better at my craft.  I want to learn how to tell a story in such a way that you (the reader) are right there with me each step of the way.  Let’s face it, the more you do something the better you are at it.  I remember when I was in the 4th grade and I got my first pogo stick.  I watched my friend Kelly with hers bouncing all around the neighborhood, she made it look so easy.  I can still remember jumping and falling, jumping and falling over and over and over again.  But because I wanted it so badly, I didn’t give up.  Each time I fell I got right back up and guess what?  Each week I got a little better and better.  Looking back I don’t know how long it took but eventually I could bounce all over that neighborhood and then…one day I was better than Kelly!  I became the neighborhood champ!  When I write and I struggle to show on paper what it is I have in my head I remember my pogo stick.  I challenge all my students to remember that we all need to take our writings and mold it and work with it until we have something that is beautiful.  The trick is not giving up!  Are you ready to learn how to craft your story?  I will be coming to Heritage Palms Country Club on November 12th for a one day writers workshop.  I will spend the morning first talking memoir as it relates to writing about our mother’s legacy that has been handed down to us.  We will discover the personal truths that are often buried deep but we will uncover how we can take just a flash of memory and turn it into an unforgettable tale.  Later on I want to discuss how to create a scene.  Now I don’t mean raising a ruckus and creating a scene but I am going to give you 9 strategies on how to write a compelling scene.  And if that isn’t enough I want to really get you clear on conflict in story and the importance of both the internal and external conflicts that move your story to a higher level.

I hope you will join me on this day!  Here is the info you need:

Cost: $125.00

Heritage Palms Country Club (located on Fred Waring just past Jefferson)

Time: 10 am – 4 pm

Sunday Brunch (please, please, please come hungry!)

To register: email me at

You are going to leave this workshop ready to write your story, what you learn applies to both fiction and non-fiction.

(Are you around next week?  I will be having a fun class at a private home on Tuesday, October 24, this class will be a potluck from 10-3 and I will be giving various prompts that we will write to and share with each other.  This isn’t a craft of writing class, but more of a fun opportunity to write and share!  email me for more details, I think I have room for 2 more to attend)

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Are you ready to go all in?

This message is for any woman who has a story they need to tell.  And really, isn’t that all of us?

Whether you have a story that is a memoir or a novel that you are wanting to write, I have great news for you!  I am here for you each step of the way.  This past summer I had over 5 writers that came and stayed at my home to write with me.  There is nothing better than taking yourself away to focus on YOU!

The feedback I received from each writer was positive and uplifting.

There are so many options I offer for you to start (or complete) your story.

Let me list a few:

  1. The Online Writing Club: Come join the 2018 writing community from the comfort of your own home!  You will receive 14 months of lessons (starting with 2 bonus months, Nov and Dec) and mid-month an inspirational email to get you inspired and ready to continue on!  Each club is limited to only 10 writers so you won’t get lost in the shuffle…visit the page on my website for more information!
  2. Private Retreats: These are wonderful if you want to spend one on one time with me in my home.  I promise this will motivate, inspire and get your moving in your creative space.  I will treat you to home cooked meals, time to work with me and alone and a beautiful space to focus is all yours here in Washington.  (Or if you and a friend want to come write together, we can stay at a darling home on Lummi Island to write and explore on the page together!)
  3. Retreats! I have some wonderful things planned in 2018, Maui and Greece are two that I am really looking forward to!  (And if you are even thinking about Greece, this month if you email me I have special pricing planned and a great discount for you!  All inclusive which means once you arrive you have nothing to worry about!)

So as you can see, there are many ways to get motivated! I love what I do and let me help you love it as well!

Haiku Writer's Retreat

North Shore Maui, Hawaii

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

writing retreats for women

International Directory of Writing Workshops