A Good Home, Words, Writers, Writing

“Just Write,” she said

A women’s group once asked me to read excerpts from my personal stories. They asked why and how I wrote them. And they asked for advice about writing their own memoirs.

Paraphrased below, is what I said.



Write about memorable experiences, even the tiny ones.

Write about yourself;  things you did or saw happen; the people you met. Write about what they said, and how that affected you; what you learned from them.

But above all, just get into the habit of jotting things down. In a journal, a notebook. On your cell phone. Pieces of paper. The phone bill.

Write. Jot it down.

A word you love. A quote from someone else. The way the light shone through your window and lit up the polished wood floors. The way that made you feel.

Blog Photo - Salle a manger


Over time, you may have enough material for one story, or dozens. You don’t try to get them published. Too personal, you think. And – – what if no-one even likes them?

Then, by a twist of fate, you have an accident and find yourself unable to move from your bed on many days.  When you talk, you stutter. And when you walk, you may even fall.

You will not be able to write a story for years.

But you will have those old stories to remind you of the kinds of people you met, experiences you had, insights you learned – in short, the life you lived.  You may discover that you’d been blessed with a very good life. And that you had been given a wonderful gift in the form of those stories.

Then, along comes a  prestigious magazine that wants to publish your stories, and a publisher who wants to launch your first book. Turns out that in those dozens of stories, written over 25 years, you had, unknowingly, recorded the elements of your memoir.


Then thousands of people read your book, A Good Home, and take comfort — even joy — from it.

And that, taken singly or together, is both a surprise and a huge serving of grace.

Just write.

Top photo by J. Van Burek.

63 thoughts on ““Just Write,” she said”

  1. I love this post! SO many times when I was finding it difficult to keep up any writing, you said…”just write.” How true that is, and how helpful it is when you can really figure out that it actually means what it says…just write! I enjoyed your book so much the first time I read it (maybe last year?) and this post makes me want to pick it up again, because it is such an incredible piece of inspiration. Much ❤ to you!

  2. And this is probably the nicest story of all:). Especially as I kick my own behind into gear, knowing I need to get to a certain someone’s edits and look at a draft with a new eye. It’s time again.

    1. I think I promised to kick you, but my kicking leg is a bit wonky! Tee hee. You are such a beautiful, sharp writer, my friend. And so much on your plate. I know you’ll get there.

    1. Ah, Julie. thanks for that kind comment. I’ve been working on this book but this time it’s from scratch, and I move slowly. By late January, I should be back at it, and better able to project a publication date.

      1. Oh Cynthia, that is very exciting news! Whatever the link you have added is, its not opening properly but really looking forward to reading your new book. Good for you!

  3. Wonderful! You are an inspiration and such a humble woman too. Isn’t life strange? An awful accident means you get your stories published, you write your book, you begin your blog and we all find a friend in you! We have gained so much xx

  4. The last part–about being published and read–won’t happen for most people but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow the rest of your very fine advice. Writing is its own reward, I think.

    1. Great observation, Kerry. Writing is its own reward.
      p.s. Your stories are being published and being viewed thousands of times on your blog. Blogging has become another way of getting one’s writing read.

  5. Such a good read, this book. I’m not sure many of us could write in such a warm and entertaining way, but you are right we should note it all down and maybe one day it will be a source of interest, comfort and remembrance.

    1. Thanks for that kind comment, Hilary.
      Well, now I am being challenged to see if I can still write in that way, as almost all the material for Book Two is from my own ‘jottings’ in my many journals since the accident. Worse, some of this is the tough stuff that brings me to tears. I’ve had to walk away from it a number of times, but will go back to it in the new year. My therapist will be helping me with some of the tough stuff.
      Hilary, you’re a great judge of books, and I will strongly want to hear your opinion, if you’d be so kind.

  6. Great words, you are an inspiration. I really admire you. I have written all my life, but apart from a few gardening articles I have never had the courage to try and get anything published.
    I love your book and have recently ordered a copy for a Xmas gift for a friend.

    1. Okay – so we’re a mutual admiration society. I never had the courage either – which is shocking for a woman who did so well in the world of television stories. Maybe one day you will. Thank you very much for reading my book, and another thanks for buying it for a friend. A touch of grace.

  7. I’ve yet to read your book, Cynthia, but I’m pretty sure I’ll like what I find. 🙂 You have a warmth that reaches out from the page, and I’m full of admiration for the way you have changed a tragedy into something of a triumph.

    1. Hey, you’ve been so busy taking us on tours, which is great for people like me, so one day you’ll get to it, and then I’d love to hear what you think of it. Thanks for the kind comments, Jo.

  8. I can’t even get my book (your book) back from my mother’s friends. It’s being passed around like a hot potato!!! I so hope to compile all the things I’ve written someday but will never live up to how wonderfully talented you are with words!

  9. I read this Cynthia and felt so inspired. What a great girl you are .. thank you for this post. So Special ..I’m so pleased that you got your book published – we can do it can’t we? 😀 Hugs

  10. Cynthia, I say the same thing to myself – that and “Just draw”. They both keep one’s fluidity going, and banish that awful fear of sitting down to one’s yellow pad, journal, sketchpad, computer, and staring blankly in fear that we haven’t a stitch of talent. I will catch up with more posts soon – I am in the usual holiday crush of work – every client wants and needs way too much and all at Christmas-time, of course.
    Be back soon! Jeanne 🙂

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