Memoir Writing

Memoir What

I’m sure you have questions, like wondering if you should start at your birth and inch your way up? You can do this for the sake of your timeline/outline, but I have yet to come across a memoir that begins with something to the effect of, “I arrived in this world at 6pm on Sunday, September 21, 1979.” (Yes, that’s my birth day) or “And then I started riding my bike without training wheels when I was 2.”

If you can creatively write your when’s and where’s from point A to point B then do it, but for all of us regular writers, spare your audience all those details. Instead, try a memory that sticks your readers right into a piece of the action. It doesn’t have to be about the time You-should-have-seen-the-other-guy kind of moment. Something low key is a good starting point.

Here’s an example taken from one my earliest memories:

My surroundings became a blur. The sky and the ground swirled into a blur as my body slid across the icy packed snow in an aluminum saucer sled. I sat crosslegged, gripping the sides, but came to an abrupt stop when the sled met the wooden fence, hurling me into a dizzying heap. I was splayed on my back with snowflakes melting on my face. My mother ran to my side and picked me up, brushing the snow off my body, checking for broken bones. My tongue tasted something metallic, and then my lip began to thump and burn.

Reminisce Away

You can start with something unique from your childhood or think of key moments from your life. Try a hilarious moment when you fell flat on your face because your backpack was too heavy, or a sad moment like when your mom told you she had breast cancer for the second time.

Talk to a Family Member

Ask a family member about their memories of you. You can even try to write from their perspective and see where that takes you. It will probably head you straight into memory lane and that my friend is exactly where you want to be.

Tell your Story

Is your story worth telling? Still thinking about it? Your story is worth telling because there is not a single person on this earth who can share the same story of their life. They may relate, but no two lives are alike. What struggles did you face?

I think Priyanka Chopra Jonas said it best, “You’ll definitely learn about how I became me during the in between of what you haven’t seen.” We all have chinks in our armor. Talk about your fears and your doubts. People are far more interested in the unseen.

Memoir Now

I am a believer in self-starting. Do you want to write your life story? What better time than now? Even if you’re not looking to publish, it’s a way to leave something for your posterity. A few of my writings I recently shared with my 18-year-old daughter. She had no idea about the things I shared. She felt like she was finally getting to know me. Her own mother!

How much of your story do your children not know about you? I’m not talking about our deepest darkest secrets. From my own experience, it was as simple as my children learning the origin of my childhood nickname.

Additional Help

You can spend a great deal of time looking for journal prompts to get you writing, or you could try this guided journal. No, I don’t get paid to sell you on a journal, so if you tried this particular one out, let me know what you thought of it. Also, if you have found a guided journal to help write your story, please feel free to leave it in a comment and I’ll be sure to add it.

This is My Life: A Guided Journal

This Is My Life: A Guided Journal: Creative Prompts to Tell Your Story, So Far

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