How to Write A Memoir



Memoir writing is a powerful tool for expressing yourself, sharing your story, and influencing the world. Yet, memoir writing can also evoke feelings of trepidation: “Is my life story truly worth sharing?” “Am I interesting enough?” “How to write a memoir?” These worries are common, but they don't need to stop you from sharing your story

We've outlined some crucial tips to help you answer “How to write a Memoir.” Let’s dive in!

What Is a Memoir? 

What distinguishes a memoir from an autobiography or a biography? There are many differences. Unlike an autobiography, which often covers the author's entire life, a memoir focuses on a specific theme or period. It’s more than just a chronological recounting of events; it’s about sharing the emotions, lessons, and transformations these experiences taught the author.

There are so many reasons to write your memoir, but how to write a memoir? Examples of famous memoirs include: 

Memoirs and biographies for young adults grew 26% in sales revenue over the last 5 years.

Celebrity memoirs, for example, are booming right now more than ever. 

And all these memoirists started somewhere. 

How to Write a Memoir: Pro Tips 

1. Tell the Truth.

Honesty is most important. Your story's authenticity hinges on your willingness to reveal truths, even if they are uncomfortable or challenging. You don’t have to expose every detail of your life, but it does involve being truthful about the experiences you want people to know. 

The most compelling memoirs are those that are unflinchingly honest. Honesty fosters a deep connection with your readers, allowing them to see the real you behind the words. 

Memoir writing is not just about recounting factual details but also about conveying the emotional truth of your experiences

2. Narrow Down Your Memoir’s Focus: Choosing a Theme.

Ask yourself, who are you writing for? Is it for family and friends, to preserve personal history? Or is it for a broader audience, sharing big lessons through your unique experiences? Knowing your audience guides your tone, language, and depth of detail. 

Next, narrow your focus to avoid an overwhelming narrative (which is an autobiography.) Start by choosing a theme, such as a pivotal life event, a transformation, a challenge you overcame, or a relationship. With My Stories Matter’s “Collections” feature, you can organize memories to act as the chapters of your memoir. 

What do you want others to take away from your memoir? What do you want them to realize? For example, Anne Frank in "The Diary of a Young Girl" shares her poignant experiences during the Holocaust. Nelson Mandela in "Long Walk to Freedom" details his struggle against apartheid. "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller explores overcoming disabilities, and "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert depicts a journey of self-discovery.

3. Put Your Readers in Your Shoes.

The essence of memoir writing lies in making your experiences resonate with your readers. It's about transforming personal anecdotes into universal truths.

Begin by painting your world - the smells, sounds, and sights surrounding you in key moments. Use vivid language. Pretend the reader is experiencing everything you were experiencing at the time. As they say, the devil is in the details!

Use your emotions as a bridge; whether it's joy, sorrow, or fear, these are feelings everyone understands. When the reader starts to see parts of themselves in your story, that’s when you’ve formed a real connection with them, which is the essence of storytelling and memoir writing! 

4. Employ Elements of Fiction in Your Memoir.

Incorporating elements of fiction will enrich your memoir, keeping your readers engaged. This doesn't mean altering facts, but rather, using literary techniques to deepen the reader's experience. 

For example, create a setting as a novelist would, with details that transport readers to your world. Develop characters, including yourself, with complexity, depth, and inner conflicts. 

Your memoir is a story, after all. Your story. And, when telling your life story, it’s important to structure it with a compelling narrative arc (introducing tensions and building to climax.) YOU are the main character, so what is your main conflict? Your goal is to transform personal memories into a journey that others can't put down - just like any page-turner!

5. Begin a Story at the End. 

Want a good hook that will immediately grab the reader? Start where most stories end. By revealing a big moment upfront, you create an intimate bond with your audience, inviting them into your world from the first line. 

T. S. Eliot even said: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

This approach also clarifies the core message of your memoir, setting the stage for a journey of reflection and discovery. Strive to make your opening paragraph captivating. It should not only grab attention but also promise a worthwhile story, making your reader eager to uncover how you reached this moment in your life journey.

6. Add Others’ Related Memories. Don’t Skimp on the Details and Dialogue.

Reach out to family, friends, or colleagues who were part of your story. Ask for their recollections and how they felt during those moments. When you include these accounts, pay close attention to details and dialogues. Capturing their words or describing the environment will bring your story to life

Incorporating memories from others who shared your experiences will also add depth and perspective to your memoir writing experience. You could censor their names if you want to protect their privacy. If they don’t mind, we recommend collaborating with your family or friends on My Stories Matter. This way, you’ll be keeping their version of what happened in your memoir. 

You can easily do this on My Stories Matter using the “Collaboration” feature to bridge memory gaps and capture different perspectives of shared memories. This function is designed to facilitate group contributions to a collective memory or story.

Memoir Writing on My Stories Matter 

My Stories Matter’s website and mobile app will help you remember and record the important people, places, and experiences in your life. Here are just a few of the several features to assist with your memoir writing: 

  • Concierge Interviews & Life Stories Book: Talk about your stories, and we’ll handle the rest! Your dedicated concierge coordinates interviews and oversees a skilled team to craft a beautiful legacy keepsake that you and your family will cherish for generations. You then get to choose from a variety of fonts, colors, and styles to find your perfect look. Expert designers ensure your memories are preserved in a publication-worthy book.

  • Writing Helper: We transform your brief email responses to our Prompts into beautiful stories.

  • Book Creation: Write down your memories on My Stories Matter, and then pick which ones to include in your book.  

Whether you prefer a more hands-on approach or need assistance in recalling and writing your life stories, My Stories Matter offers a range of options to help you in your memoir writing journey! Sign up for free today. 


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