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How to Write a Memoir Book

Sometimes a complete chronicle of your life isn’t the right kind of book to write. When a few personal stories are what you want to share, then you’ll want to know how to write a memoir book. Memoirs give you the opportunity to talk about something that happened to you, but without the need to build a complete autobiography. These tips will help you get your memoirs in order so they can become a meaningful collection.

#1. Memoirs are “sort-of” non-fiction.

How we remember certain things changes over time. Certain details may fade, but we’re still left with the outcomes as a result. For this reason, a memoir is often treated more as a life-story based in realism, but may not always be 100% true. Now this doesn’t mean that it is okay to make things up as part of the memoir. It should be based on the facts as you remember them.

#2. Give your family and friends a heads-up.

There are going to be people who are caught in the crossfire of your memoirs. It always happens. It’s a good idea to give people who you’ll be mentioning in your memoir a heads-up that you’ll be sharing a story that includes them, even if you change their names to give them some privacy. If you edit these stories in an attempt to avoid hurt feelings, the end result typically lacks the kind of life that an honest portrayal will offer.

#3. You don’t have to rely on just your memory.

There are numerous sources of information that can supplement what you actually remember. Maybe a friend kept a journal and there’s an entry about the memoir you wish to include. You can interview family and friends to include their perspectives within the memoir. It’s natural to feel a little uncomfortable about relying on your memory solely because there may be some holes in the narrative. Use different sources of research to help fill in those gaps for a successful story.

#4. It’s not a complete chronicle.

There’s a lot of confusion between the idea of a memoir book and an autobiography. Memoirs often turn into an autobiography because the writer starts chronically their entire life through various stories. In a memoir, each story should support an overall thesis that you’re offering. Otherwise it’s like reading a person’s private journal and that is typically a little uncomfortable to do.

#5. Try to connect with your readers.

People love a good story because it helps them relate to core concepts being offered with their own experiences. They can use their imagination to experience an important memory and then use that information to improve their own lives. If you’re not sure how your memoirs will connect with others, then consider getting out to speak with different groups or go online and talk in forums to get different points of view.

#6. The truth must always be the foundation of what you write.

Writers will sometimes blur fact and fiction in an effort to make a key point. Sometimes the facts just seem to get in the way of what needs to be said. Memoirs are a strictly personal account of something that has happened, but there also tends to be a fear amongst writers that they’ll get something wrong during the writing process. If you focus on the truth as you know it, then you’ll be able to eliminate your imagination from the equation.

#7. Limit your choices.

Fiction can be overwhelming to some writers. There is really no limit to what you can do in a fictional world. Trying to form key points from that can be intimidating. Memoirs help to confine your choices of story inclusion in a book because you’re limited to what has actually happened to you. This makes it easier to write in the long run because you can choose between A-B-C for inclusion instead of A-B-C-Infinity.

#8. Take a moment to explore.

Memories tend to unlock other memories when they are explored. Something you might not have thought about for years might come back to mind as you’re writing down a memoir. Give yourself some time to go through these memories to see if there are additional details you’d like to include so that your book can be as thorough as possible.

Knowing how to write a memoir essentially means knowing how to organize your thoughts and memories into a meaningful and purposeful format. It should guide, teach, and inspire. These tips are designed to help you do just that.

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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