Diving into the Wreck: How to Write the Hard Parts, Come Up for Air and Self-Care, and Finish Your Memoir

Breakout Session


Are you engaging in negative self-talk because your memoir remains undone? Do you find yourself wrung out after writing a single scene, then taking a break for weeks? Using Adrienne Rich's poem, “Diving into the Wreck,” as our guide, this session will provide a supportive re-framing for understanding memoir writing, especially if it involves trauma, as an endurance event of repeated, controlled deep dives that may span many years. Takeaways include a reading list regarding complex PTSD, the body, and trauma, as well as lots of practical suggestions for emotional and physical self-care before, during, and after the deep dives.

Key takeaways from this session:

  • Better understand the physical and emotional challenges of writing about and making meaning of past trauma
  • Learn strategies for creating and implementing a writing-practice self-care plan that draws upon activities that already bring you joy
  • Have more tools to help you to write with courage at an emotionally-sustainable pace that is right for you

View Handout [PDF]



  • Sue Repko

    Sue Repko’s essays have been named notable three times in Best American Essays and won the 2019 Maine Literary Award for Short Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Hippocampus, The Southeast Review, Hazlitt, The Common Online, and elsewhere. She is a freelance writer and editor with an MFA from Bennington.