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Tips On Writing A Memoir

Mar 4, 2008
So you've decided that history (or at least your friends and family) need to read your memoir. Just how do you go about starting to write your memoirs?

Start by deciding whether you are going to write about your whole life or just selected parts of it. In part, the decision will be made by how much you have experienced in your life and how old you are. Film stars and politicians often release more than one set of memoirs as their careers progress.

Then move onto an outline. Producing this will make sure that you don't forget to include important parts of your life. You're not looking for lots of detail at this stage, just making sure that you include all the important events that you want to talk about in your memoir. It may be worth making some headings such as "school years" or age ranges to help prompt you with doing this.

Dust off the cobwebs of your memory.

Look through old photographs. If you kept a diary that you actually wrote things in, read through this to help recall the different events in your life.

Talk to friends and family. Most of them will have certain events in your life lodged firmly in your mind. If your parents or grandparents are still alive, talk to them as they'll almost certainly have memories of your formative years that have slipped from your conscious mind completely.

Read over your CV or resume. This likely gives important milestones in your life and could well trigger your memories.

At this stage, you're looking for anything that will help you to remember the things you have done in your life. It's a bit like pulling teeth at first - the memories have been gathering dust in the canyons of your mind for years - but the more you do this, the more you'll start to recall.

Are you going to write or speak your memoirs?

There's software out there which will transcribe your speech and "write" your memoir for you. Depending on whether you are a good typist or not, this could be worth investigating. Or, if you prefer, you could just record your memoir and then pay a transcription service to type it up for you at a later date.

When you are writing, don't be tempted to edit yourself. Editing is a separate process and will stop the flow of words that you are speaking or typing. Just let the words flow onto the paper or screen (sometimes called a brain dump!) and then edit them at a later stage. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how little editing is needed when you work this way and how much your "voice" comes out in the words.

Once everything is complete, the decision is then how to publish your work. Whilst there are vanity publishers who will charge a fee to produce your book, that's not something I'd recommend. Instead, use one of the "print on demand" services like Lulu or Cafe Press to get your book professionally printed at an affordable price in quantities as low as just one.
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