Ever wanted to write your memoirs? Unsure where to start? Here are six how-to’s to guide you as you write.
1) Choose the theme of your memoir
First thing’s first: remember that a memoir isn't supposed to be about your whole life. Instead, memoirs focus on a narrow time period in a life and tell stories that have some kind of thematic (but not necessarily chronological) relationship.
Start by deciding what event or period of your life your memoir will cover. By limiting your scope this way, you make the whole project more doable.
2) List all your associated memories
Now that you’ve settled on your theme write down all the memories you can associate with the time, place, or event you’re writing about. Childhood is a natural place to start, but don’t get hung up on chronology. Focus on writing or recording any story or memory that stands out. Organization can come later.
And don’t leave out the details! While they might seem mundane to you, it’s the little details—the little differences from life today--that will be of interest to your readers.
3) Include memories from others
It can be helpful to flesh out your own recollections with those of friends and family members who were also involved. Hearing the story from someone else’s perspective might jog loose something else about a moment that you’d forgotten, or give you new insights or specific details about the events that you hadn’t thought about before. And maybe you’ll realize that you really do tell the story better than anyone else!
Friends and family may also have additional sources—like journals, photos, or video—that you can incorporate into your memoir to tell a much fuller version of the story.
4) Write the truth in your memoir
Your family and your readers want to know about your actual life, so don’t embellish (for better or worse!) People want to learn more about you and look for lessons in your experience that they can apply to their own lives, so hearing about what actually happened (and not a tall tale) will help them the most.
But while honesty is best, remember you’re not writing a tell-all. Everyone has people and events in their past that are, for whatever reason, difficult to talk about. That’s okay. You’re the author of your own story, so what you include (or don’t) is entirely your choice. Your story can still be rich and interesting without these moments.
5) Let your personality shine through
Sometimes, if you're not famous, you can put off writing a memoir, thinking "Who wants to hear about me?" But everyone is interesting! That's what makes memoir so compelling. And the way you tell your story can be just as engaging as the actual content.
Ever read something by someone you knew, and you could almost hear it in their voice? That’s because they let their voice and personality come through in their writing. If you do the same your readers will find your book hard to put down. So don’t be afraid to let your personality and way of seeing the world be your guide in writing your memoir. Your readers will thank you.
6) Let yourself be vulnerable
Memoir is a very personal, intimate kind of storytelling. It calls for emotion, memory, and examining how events impacted the storyteller in a personal way. Memoir can include things like dialogue, character description, and evocations of mood and setting.
Even if you’re not the most forthcoming person in everyday life, writing a memoir is one place where it pays to open yourself up. If you’re hesitating or finding it difficult to allow yourself vulnerability, try imagining you’re writing for just one specific person whom you know and trust—a spouse, perhaps, or a best friend. Imagine you’re telling them and only them the full story, and you may find the resistance begin to fade.
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Can you spare five minutes a day? Then you can create a memoir with the Memoir app from LifeTales! Free yourself from the keyboard, and record video, audio, or post pictures to fill in another bit of your life story. And with your loved ones joining you on the app, the possibilities to expand the stories being told are endless! Try it free today.