Have you asked yourself when you’ll write your memoir? Yes, you.
A couple of years ago I was hired to edit a surgeon’s memoir that was to be his Christmas gift to his family. Writing it had been meaningful and joyful for him. He felt an urgency to pass on to his children and grandchildren his story and the record of how his values had framed his life.
Telling our stories matters. The process is almost always transforming for the person writing it, and the result is almost always treasured by those who read or hear it.
Maybe now is a good time for you to think about capturing your own life story— to start to write your memoir. After all, we’re all sticking closer to home due to the pandemic. Writing memories and reflections can be a way to support your own mental and emotional health by lessening loneliness while creating a deeper bond and a valuable gift for loved ones.
5 Tips to Start to Write Your Memoir
Think memoir, not autobiography.
They’re different in the same way that a resume and a CV are different. An autobiography is like the CV; it covers a whole life, birth to current. A memoir is more specific, focusing on periods, episodes, or themes.
You don’t even have to start at the beginning. Pick a scene, so to speak, and write it. Any place can be your entry point. You can always write a beginning later. Do not stress over grammar, spelling, or length at this point. And for heaven’s sake, don’t sit around waiting for inspiration. Inspiration is a tease. It will show up if you commit to keep at the work.
Dislodge writer’s block.
Potters can’t create without putting some clay on the wheel. For writers, raw material can take many forms. Freewriting is one – put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and write nonstop for 10-20 minutes. Chances are some nugget will surface that you can build on, or it will prime your pump and the ideas will start to flow. If you’re super organized, you might make an outline. If you’re super visual, draw a picture or a diagram. Or speak your thoughts and record them on your laptop or phone. Like a potter, you’re not committing to anything permanent yet. Your words are still soft. You can mush them and mold them or even start over.
Be specific. General language will put readers to sleep. Be sure you are answering the questions reporters are trained to ask: who, what, when, where, why, and how. And keep it simple. Flowery language is not better writing.
Use photos as prompts. Tap into your memory and describe what is happening in a snapshot. What happened before and after? What were you thinking, feeling? Who were you then?
Ready to start?
Our voices matter. Our stories matter. If you are feeling the nudge to express a part of yours in memoir style and the writing process is new to you, working with a coach can help. If you’d like to explore that kind of support, please let me know by using my contact form.