Getting Started: Tips for Writing a Memoir - Dorrance Publishing Company

Getting Started: Tips for Writing a Memoir

The Dorrance Bookstore is home to countless memoirs that were written by our authors. If you have always dreamed of penning your own memoir but didn’t know exactly where to start, today we are going to offer you some tips that can help you overcome that hurdle and start your writing endeavor!

Ask yourself why? – First thing’s first: Ask yourself why you want to write a memoir. The clearer your reasons are for writing a memoir the better. Perhaps you want to write a memoir to leave a documented history for your children and grandchildren. Or maybe you want to share the wisdom that you’ve gained from your unique past experiences with others. Whatever the reason may be, if you can concretely answer why you want to write a memoir, the more motivation you will have to complete it. Remember that writing and publishing a book can result in a lasting legacy like no other.

Map it out – The next step is to map out a timeline of major events that occurred during the timeframe of your memoir. For example, if you’re covering your entire life to date, these can include anything from early childhood, your first job, your first love, getting a job, and anything in between. If you’re focusing only on a certain segment of time, you’d narrow these points down accordingly. Creating a timeline of the relevant events will help you focus your attention on the major moments in your life that you might want to include in your memoir.

Remember that a memoir is still a book with a beginning, middle and an end. So make sure that you have a clear endpoint in mind – you don’t want to drag the reader through endless stories that have no clear connection or sense of finality.

Pinpoint a focus – Before writing, determine what lesson you want the reader to gain from your experiences. Once you have decided exactly what you want your reader to get out of your book, you can then narrow your focus on the main purpose of your memoir. It doesn’t have to be precise, as it could evolve as you’re writing; but entering the process without a theme in mind could lead you down a rambling storytelling path with no clear endpoint.

Write – Whether it’s a lot or a little, commit to writing each and every day. If you want to be even more precise, commit yourself to writing a certain number of pages or words per day. The amount doesn’t matter as long as you reserve time each day to focus on your memoir.  Because ultimately, a few words turn into a sentence, which turns into a paragraph, which turns into a page, which eventually turns into your finished memoir!

Although a memoir is about personal experience, try and find something unique and interesting that will be relevant to someone other than you. This can help to hold the interest of your reader. Additionally, before you write about past experiences, do your research. Everyone experiences things differently, even major news events that touch all of our lives. So before you begin writing, make sure you get the facts of the story straight. Lastly, always remember to be respectful of others. Writing a memoir doesn’t mean that you have to divulge every last detail of your life. Since you are the author, you have the public voice, and it’s your responsibility to think before releasing stories about other people without their permission. Plus, you have to keep in mind the legal issues of libel and slander.

Whatever the reason you may have for writing a memoir, reflect on these tips and pieces of advice to guide you in the “write” direction! One day soon, we hope to add your memoir to the Dorrance Bookstore!

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