Unlike an autobiography that often spans the entirety of a person's life, a memoir is a snapshot focused on one part. It can be about a certain theme, such as when you learned to forgive an abusive loved one, or about a specific time period when you took a trip or made a life-changing decision.
Because a memoir lets you target one topic, it can simplify the process of writing your life's story and make it easier to not become overwhelmed in an attempt to tell everything at once.
A collection of memoirs allows you to bundle stories together like photographs in a scrapbook, creating one piece at a time until you have a whole.
Whether you aim to eventually publish your story or you simply wish to share them with your grandchildren, memoirs are an excellent way to learn more about yourself and pass on lessons and wisdom you've gleaned over the years.
There are dozens of how-to guides available in books and on the internet that you can study for an in-depth look at the writing process, but for now, here are a few tips for starting your memoir and preserving a lifetime of experiences that you can try today.
Like any skill, it becomes easier to write through practice. Journaling is a good way to get used to putting a pen to paper—or fingers to a keyboard—on a regular basis.
This can be a personal diary of your thoughts and the current daily happenings or a chronicle of your memories and the situations during the time you wish to pinpoint in your memoir.
By journaling about your memories first, you can compile facts such as what emotions you felt, what your home looked like and what family and friends were involved. In addition to being good practice, this information can be used later to build valuable details into your stories.
It's common if you are unaccustomed to writing for your hands to be fatigued or sore at first; however, as with all exercise, this usually becomes easier over time. You can also use a computer to type a journal or use voice-to-text or recording devices to dictate your thoughts.
A blank screen or piece of paper can be intimidating. If you find yourself struggling to get past the dreaded writer's block, try a different tactic.
Think of a friend or family member that you enjoy swapping stories with and start a letter to them. By pretending to talk with them, you can often change your frame of mind and relax, which will help your thoughts come more easily.
Another strategy you might wish to employ can be to talk through what you wish to convey and record your voice using a pocket recorder or an app on your computer or mobile device.
Often, a person will hesitate to tell their story because they feel it is too simple or that no one will be interested. However, it's important to remember that your memoir isn't unique because of its topic, but because it's about you.
Your memoir gives you a chance to walk beside another and help them to grow and learn through the things you've experienced. These moments don't have to be sugar coated or exaggerated to be valuable, and by being open and honest, you can preserve a glimpse of the joys, pains, failures and triumphs that have shaped you into who you are.