Regarding plot—the twists and turns and episodes of your life—outline as much or as little as you like, but expect surprises. In fact, invite surprise. Each time you begin some next chapter, your composition of yourself will be at risk. But that's okay—that's good—because you will not live fully if you never take side trips and detours. "Writing is like driving at night in the fog," E.L. Doctorow once noted. "You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
In prison, they are robbers and murderers. On paper, they are women not so different from the rest of us. Novelist Wally Lamb explains how writing their life stories sets them free, and how anyone who's built a prison around herself can do the same.
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.