Fearless Memoir

How to overcome fear, unworthiness, and self-doubt and finally write a memoir. By Brad Wetzler, award-winning author, editor, and book writing coach.

Short Memoir: On Finding Your Author Voice

I want to tell you about a book that, each time I open it, makes me a better writer. You probably haven’t heard of it, or of the author, Ted Solotaroff. It’s not a best-seller like Bird by Bird or a popular favorite like Stephen King’s On Writing. In fact, I’ve never seen another copy of this essay collection other than the coffee-stained, dog-eared one I own. But this book—just one essay in it, actually—is my savior. It’s my savior during dark nights of the soul, when I lurch, when I desire to say something meaningful and truthful, when I wish to say it in MY own unique and original voice.

I bought my copy of A Few Good Voices in My Head at a used bookstore in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood during my graduate school years. I don’t recall the shop’s name, but walking its aisles was a Saturday afternoon ritual, especially during the dead of a brutal Chicago winter when the snow flies...

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Short Memoir: A Middle-Age Man Grows Up to Be a Yoga Teacher

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In February 2017, a few weeks after my 51st birthday and on the twisting road to becoming a middle-aged yoga instructor, I skulked through the orange-themed lobby at a Boulder, Colorado, CorePower Yoga studio. Past the racks of Lululemon yoga pants and T-shirts that read...
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Short Memoir: How Yoga Brings Us Closer to Ourselves and a Higher Power

For years, I've sought a connection with the divine. The problem has been that, as much as I desire to believe in something greater than myself, I have a rational side to my mind that requires empirical proof. I was a journalist for years, after all. I excelled at fact-finding and writing from a logical, fact-based perspective. So, as soon as I decide I can believe in a Higher Power, I deconstruct my faith, and I find myself afflicted by doubt again. It's never-ending, torturous even. 

Building on altar was a watershed moment in my spiritual life. It was sweet if chaotic arrangement of statuettes, prayer flags, framed photographs picturing Indian gurus, incense holders, candles, and the precious collar that belonged to my deceased dog Blue.  As I stepped away from it and viewed it from a distance, I saw it as a signal to myself that I had entered a new phase in my spiritual life. By representing my inner life with statues on my...

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Short Memoir: How Dogs Show Us How to Love Unconditionally

When I used to travel a lot as a magazine writer, I tried to work fast so that I could explore more of the countries I visited. I gravitated toward holy sites. Temples, churches, ashrams, ancient ruins, active charnel grounds. I wasn’t a believer, so I wasn’t even sure what “holy” meant. But those sites, with their dim light, pungent incense, burning candles gave me a holy feeling, as if I was connected to something greater than myself. And then, several years ago, while on walkabout in Israel and Palestine, aka The Holy Land, I learned something important. The holy feelings that I’d been seeking weren’t coming from the places I visited. They were within. And these feelings? Well, they were the tip of the iceberg.

I still love to travel. I’m excited to be going back to India this fall. But these days, my vessel of discovery is yoga. I practice because I want to wake up. Way more than a physical activity, yoga shows us life as it really...

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How to Write an Irresistible Book Proposal

Do you seek to publish your nonfiction book with a traditional publisher? Then you’ll want to write a compelling book proposal.

To help you get started, I’m offering you this free guide to writing your book proposal.

I am an experienced book-proposal coach. I help people write powerful, irresistible book proposals. If you’d like my expert guidance through this process, please email me at [email protected] to set up your free 30-minute phone consult.  I offer several book-proposal coaching packages on my website: bradwetzler.com/book-proposal-coaching

I hope you find this guide useful.

Understand The Parts of a Proposal

Most proposals range from 35 to 50 pages and have three parts: The OverviewThe Outline, and a Sample Chapter.

The Overview

Your overview must prove that you have a marketable, practical idea and that you are the right person to write about it and promote it. Provide as much ammunition about you and your book as you...

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How to Cultivate a Bigger View in Writing and Life

Seeing our planet–the entire misty blue sphere–from outer space changes one’s perspective. Astronauts who’ve experienced this say it’s like a mystical experience. It changed them.

This big shift in consciousness is called The Overview Effect. The term was coined by astronaut Frank White. He wrote that he was profoundly changed from seeing the earth as a fragile ball of life hanging in the void and nourished by a thin atmosphere. From space, the conflicts that divide people seemed unimportant. International borders are a fiction. White was overcome by feelings that we humans should unite and cooperate. We are all interconnected.

I heard similar stories from the cosmonauts I met years ago in Star City, Russia, while reporting a magazine feature story about Space Station Mir. The men and women who lived on that spacecraft were orbiting earth, so they didn’t see the full “pale blue dot.” But they, too, were changed. They spoke with...

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Yoga of Writing

Years ago, I committed to a daily yoga practice after two decades of casual three-days-per-week practice.  Within months, I saw tangible results. I became more fit, more flexible, a little happier, a little less reactive, and even more connected to my spiritual self, which I’d abandoned years earlier. All good stuff. I kept at it. The boons continued. And there was another, less anticipated result: daily yoga lit a fire within me to learn more about this ancient practice that promoted health, healing, and deeper spiritual connection.

What happened next?

I was a journalist and the author of a book about nature. I did what a journalist/author would do. I read everything I could get my hands on about yoga. It soon struck me that there was no end to what I could learn about yoga. I kept at it. My bookshelf became a yoga library.  But I realized that reading about yoga was woefully inadequate. I needed to learn about yoga in-person from a teacher or teachers. Next, I...

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Short Memoir: Reflections on a Mystical Experience in India

At the age of twelve I had a brush with mortality that changed me. On the first day of a weekend father-son canoe trip in the Ozarks, the canoe carrying my dad and I capsized, and we were both sent overboard into the cold, fast-moving water. In the chaotic next seconds, my lifejacket snagged on a submerged tree, and I was trapped there. Though my mouth remained above water, the rest of me felt the fury of thousands of gallons of water running through a narrow channel. The upriver current flung my torso violently into the log at the same time that the downriver current seemed to claw at my spindly limbs, enticing me to be free. I was terrified, and, for ten minutes, I believed I would die. Eventually, I was rescued, but the event terrified me. It shook my sense of safety in nature, and it instilled in me, at a very young age, a deep knowing of how temporary this life is. In the next years, I became a very spiritual kid, and I latched onto Christianity, the dominant faith of my Kansas...

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Short Memoir: How Dogs Show Us How to Love Unconditionally, Part 2

The morning after my dog Blue died, I woke before dawn, reached into the dark for my phone, and turned it over to a text from a friend: I’m so sorry, Brad. My heart aches for you.

A tear rolled down my cheek, but I didn’t want to wake Kristen. I leaned over, kissed her on the forehead, and crawled out of bed. I put on pants and a sweatshirt. I went downstairs and sat on the couch.

The memories of Blue’s death—the violent vomiting, the scared look in his eyes, the surreal drive to the emergency vet, and my last tearful half-hour with the dog of my dreams—all felt too fresh, too raw, for my foggy, pre-coffee state of mind.

Of course, I had been aware that Blue was aging, but I was certain I would have six months, or more, with him. If only there could have always been six more months with him. His death coming so suddenly wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. Worse, I couldn’t keep myself from wondering that morning if his death was somehow...

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Short Memoir: How Yoga Shows Us What Faith Means

I wake to a cold winter morning. I crawl out of bed and peer through the frosted window into dark. The weatherman was correct: a thick coat of white covers the ground. It's deep. No walk this morning, I think. I make coffee and sit upright on a sheepskin rug at the center of my living room. I sip. I strike a match and light a thick white candle resting on a dresser in front of me. The room glows yellow. I hold a stick of sandalwood incense to the candle's flame until it glows yellow too. Then I blow out the flame and place the smoldering incense into the small blue vase that once held my mother's ashes. I watch the column of smoke rise, curl, and then dissipate, filling the room with a smoky fragrance.


"Hey, Google, play ‘Puja’ by Krishna Das," I say to a small speaker resting on my dresser.

"Braaaaaah-ma. Viiiiiiish-nu. Shiiiiii-va," the speaker groans the Hindu names for God. I sit up straight and hum with the spare melody. The room's soft glow, distinct...

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