The Truth About Memoirs – 4 Primal Connections And Their Universal Appeal

The Truth About Memoirs – 4 Primal Connections And Their Universal Appeal In Memoirs


This post is the fifth in our series, The Truth About Memoirs. We talk about primal connections and their universal appeal in memoirs.

Completing my series on The Truth About Memoirs, I want to talk about the role of our primal needs in this week’s post.

4 Primal Connections And Their Universal Appeal In Memoirs

For a memoir to have resonance in the mind and create empathy in the heart, it should make a primal connection with the reader.  We must be able to see ourselves in your story and feel enough to live your journey on the page.

How we express ourselves…

Once you understand what our most primal needs are – what we need to do to survive – you can make these elements stronger in your memoir. We all need to feel appreciated, valued, or to express our creativity and identity in the world – but underlying this is our most primitive urges. These can lead to ideal states or become repressed, reckless and destructive. Either way, they make for compelling stories.

How do these play out in a memoir? 

You might say, ‘This sounds too dramatic for my memoir!’ Maybe, but just think about it for a moment.  Most of us have loved ones in our lives – a parent, friend, child – that we’re willing to defend. When did you go to battle for them? More importantly, when did you stand up for yourself? It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, you can write about small personal victories – or setbacks.

Say you’re writing a story about your travels around the world. How did the food you ate contribute to your experience? Did it help you understand the culture of the country? A scene of you eating a gelato in St Mark’s Square can be a great shorthand for personal triumph and pleasure.

Sleep is something we all take for granted, but maybe you can write about the night – the long, dark night of the soul – when sleep wouldn’t come, or where you struggled with a problem and couldn’t get any rest.

4 Primal Connections And Their Universal Appeal

Connecting to the primal

The truth is that when we connect to the primal needs and fears inside us, we immediately connect to those same needs and fears in the reader. This is what gives your story universality – whether we’re 18 or 80, we know what it’s like to seek a soul mate.

Whether we’re living in Europe or Australia, we understand that food brings us together in times of celebration, grief, and everyday life.

Try this:

  1. Write a scene where you’re in a restaurant or café you love, having your favourite meal with a friend or loved one.
  2. Write about the time you felt you were in danger – either emotional or physical danger.  Write about your vulnerability, anger, the adrenalin you felt.
  3. Write about the time you first realised you were in love – or the first time you were lonely. Write fearlessly.

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  1. Soraya

    I love your way of writing Anthony. It’s simple, yet informative. Though I’ve been struggling to start writing again, and rather looking for more creative ways to find excuses than to start, you might just be a source of inspiration for me to do just that, start writing… 🙂

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