Author Archives: saragracer

Joan Didion on Personal Narrative

A dark but beautiful take on “truth” in narrative from Joan Didion in The White Album: We tell ourselves stories in order to live…We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. [...]

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How Much Should I Edit as I Write?

In her recent piece on good confessional writing in Slate, Katie Roiphe included this note about Joan Didion’s writing process: Joan Didion, one of the most admired personal writers in American prose, said this extraordinary thing in a Paris Review interview: “When I am working on a book, I constantly retype my own sentences. Every [...]

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Good Confessional Writing Vs. Bad

Katie Roiphe gives us her 5 top musts for good confessional writing. Go here to read the whole piece, but the points boil down to: 1. Be fiercely self-critical. 2. Be honest. Or at least try to be – honesty is as slippery a thing as truth. 3. Be entertaining. 4. Write well – get [...]

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Memoir Builder, 1.0

Craig Leinoff, one of my favorite colleagues and PERHAPS the officiant of my future wedding, now works with the developers who built MemoirBuilder, the tool I created to get people inspired and started on writing the story of their lives. I finished it months ago but haven’t had the time to figure out what to [...]

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Create a Time Capsule

I saw this on Healthy Tipping Point and loved the idea: Create a time capsule of your POV on a number of life’s big issues. Then check in on it every few years to see how your mindsets have changed with new experiences. Considering including (as Caitlin did) your thoughts on: politics money technology motherhood [...]

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Autobiography = Personal and Professional Development

David Pottruck, the former CEO of Charles Schwab, was celebrated for his leadership and powerful effect on the company’s culture (despite being tumped out on his rear end after the dot-com crash). But he wasn’t a successful leader right out of the gates. An early company review found him, according to, “tone deaf to [...]

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A NY Minute on Orchard

I’ve been so head down lately, so wrapped up in my work endeavors, that I’ve felt like the city is happening all around me, and I’ve been ignoring it. In short, I’ve been too busy, a state of being that’s recently been called out and properly scrutinized in the NY Times. I want presence, not [...]

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Why Write a Memoir?

The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently asked people over 70 to write “life reports.” Analyzing those reports, he found that those who “divided life into chapters” – or in other words, took charge of their own narrative – were the happiest old people around. They “divided time into (somewhat artificial) phases. They wrote [...]

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