Everyone has a story. You have a story, one that might have turned your life around and made it the way it is now. Every single one of them shaped you into becoming the person you are today.
If you’re interested in learning how to write your own memoir, you’ve come to the right place. One of the best ways to reflect on your own life is by translating your journey into written memories. Writing a memoir can invite other people to share these experiences with you.
What is a memoir?
A memoir is a compilation of written memories from personal experience. It’s not like writing an autobiography, which is a play-by-play account of the author’s entire life. Writing a memoir retells only a certain part. This can revolve around important events or life-changing situations. It selectively narrates part of a story with the goal of sharing a profound message with the reader.
Tips for writing a memoir
Choose a theme
Since a memoir only tackles a specific part of your life, narrow down the focus of the book. Get straight to the point: what do you want your readers to take away from the content? If the memoir lacks introspection or it doesn’t stick to one topic, it will be hard to draw in an audience. Unless you’re a celebrity or a prominent public figure, it’s wise to cut out the extra details. Keep the story moving in a way that the reader can relate to.
If you want to write your own memoir, it has to be cohesive. As you write, edit out ideas or scenes that take away from the main purpose of the memoir. You can figure out a general theme by analyzing your life and identifying key events. What is the importance of each event? Which timeline has the experiences that your story will benefit the most from?
Research your content
Recalling memories can often be tricky. A helpful way to organize events when you write your own memoir is to create a mind map. Connect the dots: what were the events that led up to notable scenarios? Relive your life through old photos, videos, or documents. These will help you determine important details. Back up these recollections with accounts from other people, as well. Sometimes we tend to forget certain things that are crucial to the memory. Ask the people around you about them, and incorporate them into your written memories. This can help your message become more consistent.
Write a strong opening
Like in any book, the reader should be engaged from the first word. There are several ways to do this: through humor, drama, or one of your own personal spins that can hook them. Whether you go for laughs or open with a dramatic moment, the theme of the memoir should be clear from the very start.
Sometimes you might have trouble writing the perfect opening right away. And that’s okay because you don’t need to write the memoir all in chronological order. If you want to write the most important parts first, it’s smart to get them out of the way. It’s always possible to come back to the beginning after you flesh out the meat of the story.
Show, don’t tell
One of the most intriguing parts of writing a memoir is the language used in the story. You can use literary techniques and devices to illustrate events in a more vivid way. When you write your own memoir, describe what is happening by emphasizing action. Let the reader look through your eyes. Put them in your shoes. Don’t tell them how they should be feeling about the situation. Rather, present the scene from your own unique perspective. Guide them into drawing their own conclusions, instead of trying to force emotion.
Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable
Writing a memoir is one of the most personal ways you can put your message out there. From the very start, try to build trust with the reader. Tell the truth, but don’t try to stretch and exaggerate things. It’s alright if you can’t recall every specific thing that happened. People are often unreliable narrators, especially about themselves. Written memories should still convey the emotional truth of the stories behind them.
Like sharing a secret, a memoir connects intimacy with the reader. Through your experiences, you are showing the world what kind of person you are. It’s important to incorporate your personality into your writing. If they’re reading a book about your life, they won’t be able to connect to the words if you’re not present on the page. To write your own memoir, treat the process like you would tell a story to a friend. Use your personal lingo, include inside jokes, and put yourself out there. By doing this, readers will be able to get a sense of who you are through the voice that tells the story.
Think like a fiction writer
Memoirs are compelling because they tell real stories through a fictional structure. There is an aspect of worldbuilding that portrays you as part of a bigger picture. When you write about the people around you, you are creating dynamic characters. They have their own personalities, lives, and individual stories to live through. The environment in your memoir should be alive.
During the process of writing a memoir, illustrate a simple story structure. This should contain an exposition, climax, and resolution. This ensures that the book is organized in a way that is easy for the readers to follow. When the story opens with a clear, attention-grabbing start, it’s easy to keep the reader intrigued. The lessons manifested throughout the climax should come full circle in the resolution. Of course, you can break down the story into more complicated parts, but these are the most essential.
Exhibit your personal growth
The whole point of jotting down written memories into a book is to show how they affected your life. What was the purpose of all these experiences, organized together in a memoir? Each part of your book should relate to how you live your life today. A novel would not be complete if the protagonist never shows development. When each event affects part of your journey, the ending becomes even more impactful.
You are the only person who knows the whole story. You want to let the readers finish the book not only knowing more about you but also learning from your actions. On a much deeper level, they should be able to understand why your story happened and the lessons they give.
By sharing your most personal memories, you are empowering the people that can relate to them. Write about them with a self-awareness that transcends into introspection about how and why you are alive. Showing your readers how you made the most out of it can inspire them to do the same.