Tips For Writing And Understanding Memoir Writing


Tips For Writing And Understanding Memoir Writing doesn't have to be a complicated process.Understanding memoir writing starts with understanding what a memoir really is. There can be a lot of confusion around this concept, so let’s start with a good definition of a memoir:


A memoir is a collection of memories you choose to share, focusing on a certain theme or segment of your life. Think of it as a highlight reel of your life’s most significant moments from a certain era. Unlike an autobiography, which covers your entire life, a memoir zooms in on specific experiences or periods that hold special meaning or lessons.


For instance, say you graduated from college and started a business that boomed into success. Your memoir might begin the moment the idea sparked for the new business model. Then you’d carry the reader through the various ups and downs, concluding with the moment you went public and became a multi-millionaire.


Or, perhaps you took a year off from life to backpack through Asia, taking in the sights and culture. You might write a memoir to share these once-in-a-lifetime experiences with readers who might be considering a similar trek.


Understanding Memoir Writing starts with grasping story structure. If you need help in this area, please don’t hesitate to contact me, your friendly ghost.


Finding Your Story


Discovering the story you want to tell in your memoir is a crucial and sometimes challenging part of the writing process. It’s about digging deep into your life experiences and selecting the ones that not only resonate with you but will also captivate and connect with your readers.


Your memoir should focus on the events and experiences that shaped you. These could be major life events or seemingly small moments with significant impact. Think about the times in your life when you felt a significant change. It could be a move to a new city, the start or end of a significant relationship, a career change, or a personal challenge.


Understanding memoir writing involves a deep reflection on moments when you had to make a crucial decision or when your life took an unexpected turn. These turning points often make for compelling stories.


Look for Themes in Your Life


Sometimes, it’s not just about a single event but a recurring theme or struggle that has been a part of your life. Here are some themes to consider:


Recurring Challenges: Have you repeatedly faced and overcome certain challenges? This could be dealing with a specific fear, battling an illness, or managing relationships. Or perhaps you are the kind of person who prefers to set near-impossible goals and reach them. Successful business leaders often choose to write a memoir to pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps.


Family history: Many authors like to share the history of their elder family members. For some, they can point to where they are today by the actions of their parents or grandparents. For instance, I’ve known several brave men and women who fought hardship to reach success. As a result, their family is well set up for the future.


Personal Integrity Wins in the End: So many of us are faced with day-to-day battles that challenge our integrity. Those small decisions accumulate and affect our future. How do we handle life? Some authors have had to face adversaries (some of whom were downright bullies). Writing about how they were able to take a stand can help others do the same.


For new authors, understanding memoir writing involves discovering relevant themes within the reality of one’s life. They are there. If you need help uncovering these, don’t hesitate to email me.


Seek Inspiration from Past Memories


Sometimes, the best way to find your story is to dive into your memories. If you have kept journals, diaries, or letters, that’s a good starting place. Reread them. These personal documents can be a treasure trove of memories and emotions that you might have forgotten. Take those memories and expand on them. Delve into all your senses and record who was there to share them with you.


Find old photos to help you remember incidents from your past.In addition, go through all your old photographs and keepsakes. Looking at these can enhance memories and emotions, helping you to identify important moments you might want to write about. Again, jot down everything you can about these moments. What were you feeling? Who was with you? What was happening in the world at that moment?


You also might find it helpful to talk to friends, family, and acquaintances. These folks can provide new perspectives on your life story. They might just see things in you that you didn’t pick up on. Interview them and record exactly what they say. This could assist you in writing excellent dialogue later.


Brainstorm Multiple Ideas


Don’t limit yourself to one idea initially. Jot down several potential ideas or themes. Brainstorm without judgment: Write down all your ideas, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Often, the best stories are hidden in what we initially overlook.


If you’re truly stuck, start with a list of all the events of your life. Just write the salient parts and give them a title, so you can look at them all at a glance. For instance, you might write:


  • First day working for ABC company.
  • Meeting the CEO by chance.
  • Pitching a new idea at the board meeting.
  • Receiving promotion and becoming a team leader.
  • Getting acknowledged at a company retreat.
  • Discovering the CEO committed fraud.
  • Learning that my company was closing its doors.
  • Gathering team to start a new company.


In the end, you’ll wind up with at least one hundred incidents. These should help you shape your story.


Finding your story for a memoir is an intimate journey. It’s about looking at your life through a lens of curiosity and reflection, identifying those moments and themes that are not just meaningful to you but also have the potential to inspire, educate, and connect with others. Remember, every life is a tapestry of stories, and your memoir is an opportunity to showcase a unique and compelling part of yours.


Create a Solid Plan


Creating a plan for your memoir is a vital step in the writing process. It involves organizing your thoughts, memories, and experiences into a coherent and compelling narrative.


Study Story Structure


A well-structured memoir helps to guide the reader through your story in a logical and engaging way. It’s not just about what you tell, but how you share it.


A good memoir follows the rules of storytelling. It is more similar to writing a novel than it would be to writing a how-to book. Read (or listen to) a few memoirs to get a feel for how authors share their life stories. Google the three-act structure and the hero’s journey to fully understand memoir writing.


If you need help structuring your story, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I can teach you how to create a compelling story.


Decide on a Starting Point


Understanding memoir writing begins with the beginning.The beginning of your memoir sets the tone for the entire book. It should be engaging and give readers a sense of what to expect. Most new writers feel they should start their memoir at birth, but this is often a mistake. There are rare exceptions to this.


The key is to grab the reader by the scruff of the neck and keep them engaged. To do that, you should start in the middle of an action, or a pivotal moment of your life.


For instance, one book I ghostwrote started when the author’s mother announced she was leaving the state and leaving her two daughters behind. Another began when the author made the impromptu decision to leave his country to find a safer place to live.


Once you select a starting point, continue to share your life story from that point chronologically. Avoid bouncing around the timeline too much. Of course, a well-considered flashback here and there works well to fill in gaps, but don’t overuse it. Sometimes you can try starting a memoir at the end and then filling the reader in on the story as a giant flashback. I find this doesn’t often work, but on occasion this style is effective.


Developing Characters and Settings


When you pen a memoir, real-life people and places are your characters and settings. Think about how to portray them in a way that supports your story. Develop them as if they were a novel’s heroes and heroines.


If you’re new to writing, start by briefly describing the key people in your memoir. Focus on the traits that are relevant to your story. If you need more information, you might interview them for details about their lives.


In addition, you will need to remember the details about the environments of the individual incidents. For instance, your childhood home might play an important role in your story. If that’s the case, it might help to dig up old photographs or draw a little blueprint of the place to help you. Jot down a good description of the home and surrounding area. As you do this, feel free to explore how these settings influenced you.


Making a plan for your memoir is a crucial step that lays the foundation for your writing journey. A good plan helps to ensure that your memoir is well-organized, engaging, and effectively conveys your story. Remember, the plan is a guide, not a rigid framework. Be flexible and allow your story to unfold naturally as you write.


In Conclusion


Writing your memoir is an incredible way to share your unique journey with others. Understanding memoir writing is all about finding the meaningful moments in your life and sharing them in your own voice. Be authentic, be open, and most importantly, be yourself. Your story is a gift to the world, and there are plenty of people out there who will find inspiration, comfort, or joy in it.


As you embark on this writing journey, remember to enjoy the process. Each word you write is a step towards sharing a part of who you are. So go ahead, pick up that pen or open that laptop, and start writing your memoir today!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How can I help you?