Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tips on Writing Memoirs

Whether you are looking to publish your memoir or not, writing your life story is important as you will provide your family with the priceless gift of knowing something about their heritage.
I have some tips to make the memoir writing process easier.
1) Start by finding a half-hour to an hour a day to write. Don't try to conquer too much at once. Write in small, manageable segments.
2) Don’t worry about style or grammar. Just get the words down on the page! In many cases, writing exactly the way you speak will be an asset to your writing as it will add regional and historical flavor.
3) One of the best ways to begin is to start by writing by hand in a notebook. Begin by jotting down whatever memories come to mind. But leave spaces in between each memory so you can add more memories as they come to you.
4) Do tell the truth, no matter how painful it may be. By doing so, this will not only prove to be cathartic but also function as sage advice to generations to come. Your family can learn from lessons about how you made it through a particularly difficult time your life.
5) Do write about your feelings and opinions. Don’t just write a list of events. By writing HOW you feel about the things that have happened in your life, this will increase the impact of your story by enabling readers to connect with it on a personal, emotional level.
6) It is important to include as much description about the scenes in which the events you are recounting took place. Not only will this function to place the reader inside the event -- with all its visceral detail -- but it will also add historical value to your memoir. Wouldn't your children love to hear about a time before cellphones and computers?
7) Finally, I have heard it recommended to read other autobiographies as you are writing your own. The benefit is that you will be able to see how other people have recounted the details of their life and thus you can use it as a template to recount your own story. However, one thing to remember is that the biography you are reading is the result of many hours of work. Don't try to judge your own writing by comparison. For now, just get your stories down on paper. Polishing your stories will come later.


  1. My grandmother did this a few years before she died. It was an invaluable addition to the family history. Now I have stories to go with all the old photographs. Priceless.