Why write a memoir?
If you have made a decision to write about your life, you have decided to write a memoir.
Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction. ~William Zinsser
Remember that this is not an easy journey and you will wonder why you are doing it many times over. If you can work through this, you will accomplish something special.
The most important reason to write a memoir:
There are many reasons for writing your life story, but the most compelling one is this:
- To Tell Your Story – Only you can tell your story your way. Other writers cannot write it the way you want to write it. You have something special – your voice and your style. As Diana Raab says: ‘When you write a memoir, you are writing your version of what you think happened from your own perspective. Someone else might have another version. ’
Other important reasons to write about yourself:
- To Make Sense Of Your Life. Memoirists often write to tell other people what happened to them, but they end up learning more about themselves in the process.
- To Release The Pain. Memoirists write as therapy. If they write the truth, in their own voices, a memoir can be a healing experience. According to Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
- To Leave A Record. Memoirists are adding to the tapestry of life. Writing down your experiences means that you are adding to the recorded history of the world.
- To Leave A Trail. Memoirists are offering their families and friends their side of the story. Even if they are never published in the greater world, they will have left a trail for people who knew them to follow.
- To Connect. Memoirists become part of a community when they tell their stories. They are able to connect with people who have gone through a similar experience or with people who have not, but who can empathise and learn from their stories. As Isabel Allende explains: ‘I have more freedom when I write fiction, but my memoirs have had a much stronger impact on my readers. Somehow the ‘message’, even if I am not even aware that there is one, is conveyed better in this form.’
- To Learn How To Tell Stories. The craft of storytelling is a great one for anybody to have in this life. Memoirists learn how to create stories and scenes with beginnings, middles, and endings. They learn how to organise their thoughts and to communicate more clearly.
Top Tip: Don’t write a memoir to get revenge or to teach people a lesson. Write it for yourself. If they learn something from your book, that is a bonus.
So learn how to write, construct a story framework that makes sense, and finish writing your memoir.
P.S. If you want to learn how to write a memoir, join our Secrets of a Memoirist course.
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