192: “How Honest Should I Be in a Memoir?” with Danét Palmer

Writing a Book That Matters

“I think the courage came from just slowly piece by piece telling the truth.” —Danét Palmer

Have you ever thought about writing your life story, or has somebody come to you and said you should write a book about your life? Sometimes that seems exciting, and other times that can seem daunting. I’ve heard many writers say, “I love writing, but I’ll never write a book about my life.” 

Danét Palmer thought the same thing, that she would never write a memoir. When she started writing her second book, it was intended as a practical how-to book that outlined the philosophies and practices that she had discovered over the years. As she dove into writing, however, she became connected again with her stories and realized she was actually writing a memoir.

On this week’s episode of “Author’s Who Lead,” I talk to Danét about her journey writing her memoir, Baptized by Love: How I Found Present Joy and Never Let It Go, and how it transformed her life.

Sharing Her Story

The process of writing can be very healing. It can reaffirm and build your confidence as a creator and a person because the writing allows you to see yourself anew. Once Danét accepted that she was writing a memoir, she needed to decide how honest to be with the details she shared in her book. Early on in her life, Danét realized that if she didn’t tell her truth and speak it aloud to other human beings, then those events and circumstances would have power over her. She brings this courage into her memoir and shares many dark events in her life in order to show others the power of forgiveness and love.

Many of us worry about what our friends and families will say when we share our truth in such a public way. Danét contemplated this, especially when it came to her own children. She had never shied away from answering difficult questions from them, so when it came to sharing her life in her memoir, she trusted that her children had the ability within them to handle the information.

Mentorship

When I wrote my book, The Art of Apprenticeship: How to Hack Your Way into Any Industry, Land a Kick-Ass Mentor, and Make A Killing Doing What You Love, I had specific reasons for wanting a mentor, and I knew who I wanted it to be. Danét also found importance in having a mentor. Betty was one of those people who Danét felt comfortable with, felt loved unconditionally, and she knew that Betty would be honest with her as well as not afraid to call her on her own crap.

Pass the Baton

Danét hopes that readers of her book will see themselves in it, find lightness in their darkness, and feel in their hearts to pass the baton. She sees her book acting like another Betty, guiding her readers with honesty and love. She also hopes this will encourage them to seek out someone else who will be significant in their healing.

Hardest Part of Writing Her Memoir

As Danét went through her writing journey, she was faced with those life experiences all over again. It makes us reflect and relive them as we write them down. I asked her what the hardest parts were for her, and she had two examples. They were both very traumatic events, but the healing process of writing them down helped her have more compassion for her younger self. As she shared these dark times with us in her book, I learned that these moments don’t have to define you. 

Second Chance

Often the inspiration for our transformations can be something traumatic or difficult that we experience. For Danét, it was the pivotal moment after she checked herself into a rehab house after she had attempted suicide. In the shower, she realized she had been given a second chance on life. “And it was like, the water was like liquid life flowing through my veins.”

Coffee with the Divine

After she realized that she was being given a second chance, Danét wanted to make sure never to forget that moment. On a suggestion from her mentor, Betty, she decided to have coffee with the Divine every morning. To her, the Divine could be called God but also is the mystery behind magic and the thing that “attaches you to the entire universe, that feeling that makes the sunrise every morning.” She talks about her dates with God in her first book, Coffee with the Divine.

Advice for Authors

If someone were to ask Danét whether they should write a memoir, she has a beautiful answer. She suggests that if you have the thought about writing your story, that is your inner being telling you that you haven’t given enough attention to that part of your life. “Pay attention,” she cautions and writes it all down. You can write it just for yourself or you can write it with publishing in mind. 

She also says that it’s important to have a mentor or someone in your life with who you can walk the journey because you will be revisiting all those moments in your past that might make you shy away from putting them on paper. But those moments are part of you and need you to give them a voice.

When you go to write your memoir, I want you to listen to people like Danét who are great examples of how to sit with and share your story and also how to tell it in a way that comes from the heart with a purpose.

I think there’s no greater purpose than writing a book that you hope will transform lives. And that’s exactly what Danét does. She’s writing a book that will hopefully transform your life with her story to help you come to a new place in your life.

What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Do you have a desire to write a memoir? Share in the comments below!

That’s all for this week. Your message is important, so take action today to write your book!

Episode Resource:

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Get a copy of the books mentioned here:
Coffee with the Divine: A Yummy Guide to Daily Miracles
Baptized by Love: How I Found Present Joy and Never Let It Go

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How Honest Should I Be in a Memoir?

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