Interview with non-fiction writer Jerry Waxler

Today’s
special guest is writer Jerry Waxler with the spotlight on his book Memoir Revolution: A Social Shift that Uses Your Story to Heal, Connect, and Inspire.

Jerry has graciously
provided an e-book copy for one lucky commenter on this post. If you’d like a chance to win, comment below.
Welcome
Jerry. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
When
I entered college at the beginning of the Vietnam War protest era, I knew I was
going to be a doctor. By the time I graduated, I had become convinced that
nothing matters. This was more than a casual phase. I was deadly serious about
meaninglessness. It took decades to sort out, during which I read self-help
books, talked to a therapist, wrote in a journal, and meditated. In my late
40s, I went back to school and earned a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.
As a therapist, my job was to ask people to tell me their stories.
After
a few years, I discovered memoirs, and realized that the stories told in
one-hour sessions in therapy were the fragments of people’s lives. Memoirs
combined all these fragments into a more connected, crafted version of what I
had been hearing and telling in therapy. My fascination with memoirs was born.
By reading 100s of memoirs, writing my own, and teaching others to do the same,
I entered into one of the most creatively rewarding periods of my life.
Please tell
us about your current release.
Memoir
Revolution

is about the current interest in reading other people’s lives and writing about
one’s own. My book explores the ways readers and writers are taking advantage
of this literary trend, and some insights into the way you too can discover
your own story.
What
inspired you to write this book?
When
I put together the pieces of my interest in memoirs, I began giving talks on
the subject at writing groups and libraries. In these talks, I waxed eloquent
about how memoir writing could be a healing, invigorating experience and could
help an aspiring author feel more comfortable in his or her own skin. After one
talk, a publisher in the audience suggested that I write about my “big ideas.” Her
suggestion inspired me to write the first drafts of Memoir Revolution.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
I
just released a second book called How to
Become a Heroic Writer
a workbook about how to develop the psychological
skills of a writer. (It’s on Amazon now. http://amzn.to/1yp89NC)
I continue to post essays on my blog about lessons I’ve learned from reading
memoirs. And of course I press on to complete my own memoir.
When did you
first consider yourself a writer?
The
first time I thought I might be a writer was when I was 24, a lost soul in
Berkeley California, trying to find myself through poetry and essays. A small
literary magazine published one of my pieces, and the UC Berkeley student
newspaper published another one. I thought I was on the way to becoming a
writer, but I discovered a horrifying thing about myself. I lacked the
psychological skills needed to accept constructive feedback. I grew
increasingly shy about my writing and stopped trying to publish.
I
wrote in a journal off and on, and in my 30s became serious about journal
writing, doing it as a daily practice. By persistently putting pen to paper, I
was gaining the knack of writing. In an interview for a technical job, I
mentioned that I loved to write, and was hired as a technical writer. It’s
possible to say journal writing and technical writing made me a writer, but I didn’t
yet think of myself that way.
In
my 50s, after I got my degree in counseling psychology, I found a storefront
writing group near my home in Southeast Pennsylvania. The organization hosted critique
groups, workshops and even social gatherings. I mingled with hundreds of
aspiring writers, and I realized I was one of them. I’ve considered myself a writer
ever since.
How do you
find time to write?
About
20 years ago, in one of my many forays into self-help, a friend gave me a book,
Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People
. I didn’t just read it. I studied it for weeks, and talked
about it with my friend. The message I took away from that self-help experience
changed my life. Covey’s idea was that when we go to work, we focus intently on
achieving goals, but when we approach our hobbies and creative interests, we do
it when we feel like it. He suggested that to be productive in the things we
love, we need to employ the same focus as on earning a paycheck. Based on that
notion, I began to develop habits around my love for writing.
Over
the years my writing habits created a joyful container for creativity, and
after I began to connect with real readers, the joy increased exponentially.
I’ve written a book How to Become a
Heroic Writer
about how I developed these habits and advice on how anyone
can.
What would
you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I
have two quirky techniques that keep me writing. One is that when I sit at my
writing desk every morning, I turn on two banks of eight foot “natural”
fluorescent lights. This light therapy resets my body clock and keeps me
focused.
The
second quirk is that every day at lunch, I walk on the treadmill and mark up
the printouts from my morning writing session. These marked up copies become my
raw material for the next morning’s writing session.
The
two “quirks” light-therapy and exercise work together to improve my mood and
contribute to the fun and energy of writing.

Links:

Thanks,
Jerry! Happy writing!

Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win an e-copy of Memoir Revolution.

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