I suspect that a number of you, my gentle readers, are thinking about writing a book. Am I right? Perhaps you want to share your life story. If so, here are some tips for writing a memoir:
Writing a memoir takes time
Writing a book isn’t an overnight undertaking.
Although it might be possible to complete a book in a month or two, I urge you not to rush the process. Even if you have plenty of time, give yourself some breathing room.
Six to eight months is a good timeframe for completing a book. Set daily targets and hold yourself accountable to making them. Your memoir will be the better for it.
Character flaws are key
Even if you are a living hero, you’ll need to take a step back and look for a few non-optimum personality traits to share.
The reason for this is that the rest of us, your readers who have flaws, will never be able to relate to the story of a perfect superhero. Include the mistakes you’ve made in your life. Find a few lapses in judgment and delve into them. Anecdotes showing how you overcame barriers and errors will enhance your book.
Humor goes a long way
When an author can poke fun at his or her situation and enliven a story by bringing out its comical aspect, it makes for a more enjoyable and memorable read. While it is best not to make fun of others in your book, there are still plenty of other ways to include humor.
For instance, funny dialogue snippets lighten the mood nicely. There might also be times when you can uncover an absurd moment then expand on it. Don’t be afraid to shine a spotlight on certain aspects of your life that might make others laugh out loud.
Write and write and write
If you’re writing a memoir yourself, you’ll need to write on a regular basis.
Don’t expect to make much progress if you only type a few pages on the weekends. Great writers write every day. It keeps ideas flowing and the creative pump primed.
Feel free to embellish the details
No one expects you to remember every single little detail of your life perfectly.
For example, can you recall what you had for breakfast on October 20th, 1974? If you’re writing a breakfast scene and want to put Eggs Benedict on the table, go ahead. Your readers will accept it.
The situation is similar with dialogue. If you are writing about an important conversation, your readers don’t care about the exact words spoken. They just want to know the gist of the conversation.
The truth is, even if you have a photographic memory, you will want to change up the words a bit to improve the flow of the story. However, never invent fictitious and unflattering words for a real person you’re mentioning by name. He or she might not appreciate your creativity.
Although you’re delving into the viewpoint of one character, you, you need to have the ability to pull back from your perspective.
This might mean that you don’t come out the winner in every argument. And, please don’t resent me for saying so, but you might turn out to be wrong on occasion. It happens! Remember, flawless characters aren’t very believable.
One of my biggest tips for writing a memoir is to be truthful with your readers. It’s possible that they might learn a lesson and avoid making the same mistakes you did. Wouldn’t it be good to know that your book changed the life of just one person?
Read other memoirs
I read a quote today that I loved. It said:
“Reading and writing cannot be separated. Reading is breathing in. Writing is breathing out.” (I wish I knew who wrote it.)
Writing a memoir is difficult if you’ve never read one by another writer. Reading a lot will help you learn about what works and what doesn’t.
With these tips for writing a memoir, you are ready. Now start writing. Continue to write. Then write some more until your first draft is completed.
Don’t edit, just write.
Enjoy the experience.
Personally, I love ghostwriting memoirs because I get to meet new people and help them share their life stories with others. While doing so, they usually remember new details about their lives that they’d forgotten for decades. And, in the end, they always learn a lot, as do their readers. The process is so rewarding!
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