Have you ever considered writing a memoir? Maybe you feel like memoirs are only for the rich and famous, but the truth is that most people would love to learn more of the life stories of the matriarchs and patriarchs of their family. Having a written record of that story is a big bonus.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Ask your family what they would like to know
The things you find most interesting from your life story—hardships you’ve overcome, happiest moments, special memories—are undoubtedly important for your memoir. But you may not realize how many of the seemingly small details are of great interest to everyone else. That’s why asking your family members what they would like to know is such an important part of the writing process. If they are up for it, you can even ask them to interview you and then use your interview answers as the framework for your memoir.
If possible, try to get feedback from more than one generation, such as from a child and a grandchild. There may be an important question that your grandchildren don’t ask because it doesn’t even occur to someone growing up in today’s society. And on the other hand, your children or siblings may overlook interesting information that they already know about you.
Discuss daily life growing up
Technology has accelerated the pace of change in society, making memoirs more important than ever. Your older grandchildren probably already have a hard time imagining what life was like for you growing up, so imagine how interesting it will be for younger grandchildren and family members who are not even born yet? If you start your memoir off by discussing details of daily life when you were a child, it’s sure to be a hit.
You don’t need to tell your whole story
People who feel daunted by the prospect of writing a memoir likely feel that way because they think a memoir has to capture their whole life story. That’s certainly not the case. A memoir, particularly one intended for your family and friends, only needs to contain highlights of the periods of your life you think are the most meaningful to you and your loved ones. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed writing your memoir, and you certainly don’t want anyone to feel too overwhelmed to read it. Keeping things streamlined solves both problems.
Be flexible with the format
A memoir doesn’t have to replicate the form of a novel. In fact, a collection of short memories, mixed with lists and anecdotes might be your best bet. A mixed format like that serves the same purpose of preserving your life’s story for posterity as a formal narrative. Plus, it easier for others to read and for them to reference if they are looking to refresh their memory on a certain portion at a later date.
An easy way to start would be splitting up your life into distinct time periods, such as early childhood, elementary school years, high school, college, etc. Then, you can list your top 5 favorite books, movies and places to visit for each of those time periods. Add in 5 facts about current events from those same periods and 5 of your funniest memories, and you’ve already created something that your family will love to read and reminisce with you about.
There’s no time like the present to start writing your memoir. So, use these tips to jot down a few notes and make plans to talk to your family about the process. If you need some inspiration, you can always visit the beautiful Southgate at Shrewsbury library to peruse the books and see if a certain writing style strikes your fancy.