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5 Steps to Writing a Memoir

You’ve got memories that you want to share. There are lessons you’ve learned that you feel will help others. This means the steps to writing a memoir are for you.

What makes a memoir unique from a writing perspective is that they have a natural focus on a specific aspect of a person’s life. Instead of a chronological listing of what has happened to a person, it is a story that includes personal reflections about the places, people, and opportunities that have made a person the individual they are today.

Memoirs discuss what has had a significant impact on your life. This means the steps to writing a memoir must follow in the footsteps of that impact. Here’s how you get started.

Step #1: Get Focused

Before you can begin writing a memoir, you need to know what it is that you plan to write about. Telling stories from your past can be a fun process, but the memoir must also be able to teach a lesson. So grab a notebook, sit down, and start taking some notes about the important lessons you have learned about your life.

Grab an old journal or scrapbook if you have one. Take note of the most important pages that stand out to you. Connect to your past self, connect the important memories together with a lesson that can be offered, and that’s when you’ll be able to begin writing a meaningful memoir.

Step #2: Discuss Your Topic

Once you’ve focused down to a key topic or two and started the writing process, it is important to receive feedback from others to see if your topics are as important to them as they are to you.

It’s also important to speak with others about your memoir if there is a chance that some people might make an appearance within your narrative. If you’re writing about old friends you had in high school, then connect with them, talk to them about what your plans are, and see what kind of response you receive.

Some might want to reminisce, which can give added depth to your memoir. Others might object to being included – which is something you’ll want to respect.

Step #3: Get Your Beginning and Ending in Order

The best stories follow a very simple structure: ABC. A is your introduction. B is the main body of the story that is being told. C is your conclusion. In a memoir, you’ll want to start writing by focusing on A and C before you focus on B.

This is because your memoir must have a meaningful beginning and a conclusion that wraps up every key point being offered to the reader.

Once you have the beginning and ending sorted, then you can determine the final structure of your memoir. Some memoirs have a CABC structure. Others have a BABCBC structure. You can determine how your story is told, but having the beginning and ending written first will help to make sure you stick to your narrative instead of going off on tangents as you’re writing.

Step #4: Check Your Facts

It is easier to check your facts before and during the writing process instead of waiting until after the memoir has been completed. Memoirs don’t necessarily need to have every specific fact be complete accurate, but accuracy is still important.

Keep your reference materials in order as you’re writing so names, dates, and other included facts are consistent. Then keep referring back to these materials so your information stays correct. This will save you a lot of time during the writing process.

Step #5: Get the Memoir Finished

Many writers may start a memoir, but not everyone will end up finishing it. The planning, outlining, thinking, and research processes can be quite overwhelming. It can take months sometimes to get through the previous 4 steps. By the time you’re ready to start writing, you feel exhausted and decide not to start writing instead.

The easiest way to keep writing is to just be honest with yourself. Don’t try to be something you are not because that effort will be reflected within your words.

It can also be helpful to divide your memoir into different parts so you can tackle one part of your writing effort at a time instead of the whole thing at once.

Then all you need to do is make sure each section has a transition that allows the reader to naturally flow from one section to the next.

The steps to writing a memoir may be simple and straightforward, but they can be difficult to implement. Stay motivated by focusing on your goals. Think about why you wanted to start writing in the first place. Then, word by word, you’ll keep making forward progress toward that goal.


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Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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