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How To Write A Memoir

by | Jan 15, 2020 | Blog

People read memoirs for very specific reasons. If you are a new author, it’s likely that whoever is purchasing your memoir is just being introduced to you. So in this video, I will share how to write a memoir (step by step).

I will teach you the most important elements of writing a memoir which will explore themes in your personal life that parallels to your readers. I will provide memoir writing tips that will help you to learn how to be transparent and explore the reason why writing a memoir is important to you.

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Video Transcript for How To Write A Memoir

Hi aspiring writers!

Writing coach Stefanie Newell and this is The Life Of A Writer channel. Today’s video – How To write A Memoir. In this video I’m gonna be sharing with you five tips that will help you to turn your life experiences into a book that you can be proud of.

If you want to learn how to connect with readers and sell more books, make sure to subscribe as I post new videos every Tuesday. As many of you know I coach first-time non-fiction writers and a lot of my clients are memoir writers. Memoir writers deal with very personal issues such as adoption, health conditions and domestic violence and sexual assault and so because of that I have taken a special interest in doing a series around writing a memoir because I know that so many of you need information on how to move forward.

So in this video my goal is to provide for you a logical way to write your memoir so that it benefits your readers.

How To Write A Memoir – Tip #1

So let’s get into tip number one. So tip number one, is to be clear on why exactly you’re writing a memoir.

Now of course this is going to be different for every single person because you know it’s dependent on the personal experiences that you’re going to be sharing. But the reason why I feel this is such an important tip is because you’re going to be rehashing and reliving all of these experiences all over again whether they’re negative experiences or positive experiences you need to remember at the root why you want to write this memoir.

Now for most people it’s a simple answer they feel that someone can benefit from hearing their story and that’s sufficient. But I want you to explore why you’re writing it because there’s gonna be some times, especially if you’re writing a memoir and it has negative experiences in it, you’re gonna be reliving all of those different experiences and you’re gonna feel like why am I doing this?

So I want you to have that at the forefront of your mind, so that you know from the start of writing your manuscript exactly why you’re writing a memoir.

Tip #2

So tip number two, is to figure out the theme for your book. So for some people there will be one theme for your book while other people may have multiple themes for their book and there’s no right or wrong way. So for example, let’s say you experienced a financial crisis in your life. That may be the entire theme for your book and there’s nothing wrong with one theme for your book.

As a matter of fact, one theme makes it easier to find your target audience. So a suggestion that I like to give, if you have or you find that you’re going to have, multiple themes throughout your book where possible, make sure that those themes connect with each other.

And the reason why you want to make sure that those themes connect is because again we’re going to be trying to find a target audience of people that can relate to this subject matter. And if you’re all over the place with this theme and that theme and this theme and they don’t connect it makes it harder for you to narrow in on a target audience that will appreciate your book. Jump down in the comment section and share with me the themes for your memoir.

Tip #3

Tip number three, is to remember your book doesn’t have to be linear. So before we get into a conversation about what that means exactly, I want to give a little definition of what a memoir is because for a lot of first-time writers they get confused on the difference between a memoir and an autobiography.

So a memoir is going to cover specific events that have happened in your life and that’s kind of the reason why I said in tip number two to think about the themes, because you’re going to be covering specific events that happen. Whereas an autobiography usually which is done on a celebrity or political figure or something of that nature it covers their entire life.

So that’s gonna be really important to remember. So the reason why I’m saying you don’t have to write linear… for a lot of first-time writers they’re gonna find that to be comfortable. You know this is what happened in 2018 this is what happened in 2019 and this is what is happening present day.

And if that feels the most comfortable for you by all means write in that manner. The point of this tip is to tell you that that is not the only way to write a memoir. Now the one thing that is important to remember is that we’re trying to write a memoir that engages our target audience. We want them to know that this is the right memoir for them so that they can walk away from this book having learned more about you and also being able to assess how you know it can help him benefit them as the reader.

So you have to have a strong introduction.

So for some people telling your story in a linear manner will make sense. For other people depending on what your experiences are that you’re sharing you might might want to start at current day, you might want to start with the tragic event that happened you might want to start with the positive experience that happened, it really just depends.

So I want to make sure that you guys are clear on why it doesn’t have to be written in one specific way. It doesn’t have to be this happened this year this happened the following year and this is happening now.

How To Write A Memoir – Tip #4

Tip number four, be transparent. So one of the things that a lot of my clients struggle with is wondering how writing a memoir is going to affect other people around them. Our lives intertwine with other people so one of the things that  my clients struggle with is how will other people feel about me writing and  sharing my experiences?

So the first thing that I want to say to you is that you are well within your right to share your personal story. No one can take that away from you! However, you just might want to take some care in how you share those different experiences. So for some of my clients they decide to actually go to the person that they’re going to be sharing let them know that I’m going to be sharing my story.

I’m going to be sharing my story from my perspective not to hurt you not to be disrespectful in any way but I’m sharing it from my vantage point. This is how I saw things as happening and there’s nothing wrong with doing that.

Other people will decide to just write it whether they get consent or not and you know I don’t guess there’s anything wrong with that so long as somebody doesn’t come back with some kind of legal ramifications. I don’t get into the legal side because that is not my area of expertise but I will put down in the description box a link to an article that talks about the legal ramifications of including other people in your books.

Another way that people go about handling it is by basically changing the name and all of the identifying factors so that people can’t figure out exactly who you’re talking about.

Another option is to go with a pen name and then no one will ever be able to piece back who you are, but the most important thing going back to being transparent is remember you are not obligated to write a memoir.

This is something that you chose to do. So you’re not obligated to share all of your different personal experiences, but the experiences that you do choose to share be as authentic and transparent as possible because that’s going to be relayed to your reader.

They’re going to appreciate your sharing it in that way because they’ll be able to connect with your story.

Tip #5

But tip number five is also very important, create an outline. The reason why creating an outline is important is because again going back to tip number two we talked about themes and we’re thinking about the themes that we want to talk about we won’t don’t want to steer too far away from what those themes are for our books.

So by writing an outline and seeing visually on paper exactly the experiences that you want to talk about putting them in a logical order so that it makes sense for the readers whether that’s linear or not you want to create an outline so that when you get ready to sit down to your computer you know exactly what it is that you want to write.

While writing a memoir is definitely a difficult process, because for some people like I said you’re talking about you know negative experiences that you have, (and again not all memoirs and negative experiences) but from my experience working with my clients a lot of the memoirs are… you want to be clear on what it is that you’re talking about.

So maybe one day you’re going to sit down to your computer and you’re not in the mindset to discuss X Y or Z you can skip over that chapter because you know exactly the order in which you need to write it.

So an outline is going to be important because listen… you know your life you just need it to be in a logical order so that you know exactly what it is that you need to write as soon as you sit down to your computer.

And this is gonna be so helpful because for most first-time authors one of the things that they struggle with is what do I write? But if you know and you have an outline and you know the exact order that you’re going to put it in and you have an outline that is perfect for your target audience its going to be much easier to write your memoir.

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