Tips for Writing Your Memoir

Sometimes writers get stuck and stop writing. If you find yourself in that frustrating place, consider writing your memoir.

A memoir isn’t an autobiography (a life detailed with supporting documents, etc.). A memoir is a recollection (from memory) of your life.

Be aware, however, that most writers experience that out-of-control feeling one gets when the writing takes on a life of its own. It’s good to realize that’s a real possibility in memoir writing. You’re trying to preserve your story from memory, but one thought reminds you of another and that reminds you of something else and before you know it, you’ve restarted or refocused your memoir writing (possibly several times).

Of course you won’t want to put every memory in your memoir because that would make it too long or boring or disconnected. Here are some tips to help you focus your memoir and get you writing again.

  • Consider your life experiences in broader terms–that is, not just as personal experiences, but also as experiences humans have.
  • Ask yourself what happened to you, why you think that happened (sometimes we make mistakes and those mistakes have consequences).
  • Review your experiences and be honest about how you responded. Examining your own response may be useful to others reading your memoir.
  • Be honest in accounting for your behavior, feelings, etc. Your life brought you to this point and helped you form your world view, decide on your behavior, and become the person you are. Chances are things happened in your life that you wish hadn’t, but they did and they had an impact on you. You owe it to yourself to understand and accept that life isn’t always what we wish it was.
  • Embrace the drama you’ve experienced. Everyone’s life holds drama at some point. There’s nothing wrong with remembering the drama as long as you don’t let it become an obsession. Instead, see it in your memory, accept that it is just that–a memory, and decide what influence it had in making you who you are.

You might want to begin by spending some quiet time remembering your life. Don’t document every year. Instead, jot down memories as they come to you. Everything’s connected under the umbrella of your life. Now it’s up to you to decide what to include in your memoir. Happy writing!

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