So you want to write a memoir?
Perhaps you want to write an autobiography instead? There is a marked difference. You need to know that before you start writing since your focus will not be the same.
In both cases you are the writer. You are not writing about yourself, you are disclosing who you are to the reader. You're both the author and the subject. You are at the same time the researcher, the storyteller, and the narrator. That's a big order. You have some planning to do before you begin.
Make a list of things that are worth sharing. Moments and events from your past that aren't just trivia, but pivotal times of significance. Emotional times. Milestone events and happenings or issues that changed your life. Then turn from the big game-changers to the smaller but important things that you treasure as well as the negative or adverse incidents that shaped you, that made you who you are, but perhaps no one may have known about.
What are the hallmarks of an autobiography?
It covers the entire sweep of your life
Starts at the beginning and progresses chronologically to the end
Is historical, factual, and specific in the information
No whitewashing of the negatives or failures
No putting yourself up on a pedestal
Being honest yet modest about your successes
How about a biography?
You write in the third person about someone
It still incorporate the above characteristics
A memoir differs in these ways:
It identified a theme, event, or trend in one's life
Starts anywhere and can skip around in time and place
More like a personal journal of feelings and less a diary of events
Is less formal and more emotional
Not a heavy concentration of researched facts
A comfy chair and deep, focused remembering is a good venue for writing
Can be written by someone else
All of these writings must be based in truth. However, if you catch yourself embellishing the truth and adding drama that didn't take place, or characters who weren’t real, then you might consider jumping over to fiction and writing a novel.
For all three above, they are highly marketable in the publishing world—if they are written by celebrities or people with name recognition who accomplished something significant or had some outstanding experience.
If written by an “ordinary” person about himself or herself, probably not so marketable. In such cases, one usually has to self-publish and the target readership may be limited to friends and family and people who would be interested in your life story.
Nevertheless, each of our lives and our stories is far from “ordinary.” We are uniquely significant to those in the orbit of our influence, and we shouldn't hesitate to write about our lives as we wish. Especially to leave a legacy for the people who are important to us and to the generations that follow.
To assist you step by step as you write your memoir, I wrote my book This is Your Life—Write It: Leave Legacy Footsteps. I walk with you through all the aspects of writing your memoir, to the final stage of suggesting directions you may wish to pursue to publish and market.
You will find a review of the contents of the book and ordering information
in the BOOKSTORE section of this website.
HERE'S AN IDEA!
Butterfly Briefs #88 What is Good Writing?
Butterfly Briefs #87 Memoir Fever in the air!
New “Mini-Books” hot off the press!
BUCKET LIST BOOKS--Our New Publishing Option
Butterfly Briefs #86 WRITING WHEN RIPE
Butterfly Brief #18 Submitting short stories
Butterfly Briefing #17 Announcing Contest
Butterfly Briefing # 16 NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH?
EXCITING NEW HAPPENINGS!
Butterfly Briefings # 15 Five Drafts!
Butterfly Briefings # 14 CLOSET POETS
Butterfly Briefing #13 Me too, Habakkuk
Butterfly Briefing #11 Writing From Adversity
Butterfly Brief # 10 Writing With Imagery
Butterfly Brief #9 Writing Memoirs
Opportunity for Inspirational Writers
Butterfly Brief #8 Traditional or Indie?
Butterfly Brief # 7 PUBLISHING SCAMS
AUTHOR SHOUT OUT: Write what you know
NOT TO PUBLISH? Shout Out
The Joy of Literary Midwifery
Butterfly Briefs #6 Free Self-editing
SHOUT OUT FOR MY NEW BMW!
BUTTERFLY SHOUT-OUT: Golden Morning Publishing author
Butterfly Brief #5 “Selfie Writing”
Butterfly Briefs # 4 DESIGNER JEANS OR BERMUDA SHORTS?
Butterfly Briefs # 3 How to Capture and Develop Writing Ideas
Butterfly Briefs #2 The Fantasy of the First Draft
Butterfly Briefs #1 Launching Pad to our dreams