Have you ever dreamt of writing a memoir? One of the best ways to celebrate your life is to put pen to paper, but sometimes people feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea and never get started. This might be the first time they’ve tried to sit down and write something that wasn’t for a class assignment. But don’t let inexperience stop you! A personal narrative can be a great gift to your family and friends, and learning how to write a memoir is often fun and rewarding. You’ll finish your memoir in no time if you follow our helpful tips.
How to Write a Memoir
Narrow Your Focus
Before you get to work, it’s important to figure out what you want to write about. Are you writing your autobiography or a memoir? An autobiography often spans your entire life, starting at birth or your earliest memory and detailing your childhood, adulthood, and senior years. It is typically comprehensive. The opposite is true for a memoir. Unlike an autobiography, a memoir usually centers on a central theme or major event in your life. As a result, most memoirs do not cover your entire life story.
If you aren’t sure what to write about, discuss your options and ideas with a close family member or friend.
Include Historical Events
This is a great way to add context and insight into lessons you learned during your life. If you grew up during WWII or attended a political rally or experienced a major social upheaval, include those moments in your memoir. Not only will they add rich detail to your memoir, but reminiscing about those events will likely spur your memory and help you dive deeper into what was really going on in your world at that moment.
Reach Out to Family and Friends
If you’re still figuring out how to write a memoir, reach out to family members and friends. This is especially helpful if you’re writing your memoir for your loved ones. As you write about different live events, ask what they remember about those times. Their memories may spur you on or help you recall details. Or, if you’re struggling to decide what to write about, ask your family members and friends what questions they hope to have answered in your story. Then, dedicate one chapter to answering each question.
Pick Your Medium
Once you have a plan in place, decide how you want to write your memoir. You could write your story by hand and then type up the finished product (or ask someone else to type it up). Or, you might choose to type your story directly on a computer. If you struggle with typing or writing by hand, don’t worry. You could ask a family member or friend to record you, and then transcribe the audio.
Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is real, and it can be a serious frustration. Everyone deals with this struggle differently, so try a few tactics to see what works best for you. Start by limiting distractions, like outside noises and interruptions. You might work best in a quiet room at home or at your nearby library. If you’re struggling with content, try free-writing. Just pick a memory and let yourself write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about sentence structure or the narrative, just let your ideas and memories flow. When you finish, go back through what you’ve written and see if there are any pieces you want to include in the memoir. Another way to beat writer’s block is to make writing part of your daily routine. Try dedicating an hour a day to writing, and see if this helps you focus.
Learning how to write a memoir can be a great way to keep your mind active, engage in memorable conversations with loved ones, and share your story with future generations.
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