Live to Write - Write to Live

Recently, a reader asked me how to go about protecting people’s privacy while also protecting the truth of the story when we are writing memoir or other nonfiction pieces. In my life coaching blog, I write often about things that happen to the people around me.

I have found Anne Lamott’s advice, from her book, Bird By Bird, to be very helpful. She suggests how to handle writing about a man in your life:

“If he revealed himself through his actions toward you to be a sociopathic narcissist, you can attempt to capture his character and use actual conversations, just as long as this specific man is not identifiable by your descriptions. Change everything that would point to him specifically.”

I have used this advice to help me change my stories so that the truth of the story remains, but identifying details are changed. Here’s how I do it:

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