8 Tips for Writing Your Life Stories

by Guest Author

Scans for Kevin -1958-59--004Have you ever wanted to write your life story? To turn your memories into a memoir?

Whether you want to celebrate something you did or understand (and perhaps even heal from) a difficulty you’ve experienced, writing about your life can be transformational.

So many people who want to write about their lives never get started or, if they manage to start, never finish.

In today’s guest post, memoir professional Denis Ledoux shares eight of his best tips to help you get your memoir written.

Eight Tips for Memoir Writing

Your stories are weighing heavy. You so much want to tell them, but the burden of unloading them seems too heavy, so much so, that you hesitate to begin. You have so much to share with the world, your legacy of a lifetime well lived, deserves a voice — your memoir is waiting you.

Memoir writing can be demanding. Too many people start out with enthusiasm about preserving the story of their lives. At the onset, they are so persuaded they will write their story. But in the months that ensue, too many would-be memoirists lose energy.

To help you to write your memoirs more prolifically -and even bring them to a finish in the form of a published memoir- I offer these suggestions to help you succeed.

1. Set up a regular writing time. How long you write is perhaps not as important as how frequently you do so. Once you have set up a writing time, honor it as you would a medical appointment. Don’t allow others to usurp your time!

2. Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft. Perfectionism is not a virtue at this stage. You are writing for volume. Your job now is to get the chronology and the action written. Quality will enter in later. Once you have ample text you can do a rewrite. It is in the rewriting that the memoir will really come together.

3. Start anywhere in the story you feel like writing about on any given day and keep writing as long as possible. If the topic that interests you changes on the next day, write about the new story line even if you haven’t finished the previous one. You are connecting to your muse at this point! Writing is always most quickly realized when you are enthusiastic about your topic.

4. Once you have a number of stories or story segments, print them out and collate them in a three-ring binder according to chronological order. Write the missing links (aka the transitions) between the texts that you have already written. You will see your stories form a thick collection. This will encourage you to continue writing.

5. Read memoirs critically to learn as much as you can from other writers. This process is called “reading as a writer.” It’s similar to an apprenticeship — a time honored means of acquiring skills and confidence.

6. Commit to reading how-to write books, take a class, seek coaching. A professional can create many shortcuts for you. It is possible to acquire skills on your own, but it will take longer. The longer it takes to write your memoir, the more chances you have of becoming discouraged.

7. Once you have gone through your story several times, work with an editor. A professional editor can help spot problems that have become invisible to you and help you to write your way through difficulties.

8. Create an end date (publication) as a stimulus to keep writing. Tell people about this publication date. It has often been observed that tasks take as long as the time we allot to them.

Whatever you do, once you begin, just keep writing.


memoir denis ledouxDenis Ledoux, experienced Memoir Professional, offers you loads of free memoir-writing materials–articles, reports, MP3s, e-books, newsletter subs. To claim your copies, visit the website www.TheMemoirNetwork.com

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil Willis June 26, 2013 at 12:09 am

Great advice.

One other tip that has worked for me is to go through exercises like: “Describe the first time someone broke your heart” or “What was the worst job you had?” or “How did you meet your best friend?”

Each of those simple exercises might prove to be the seed to a terrific anecdote which turns into something larger.

Oh – and start today!

2 Bonnie July 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

Thanks for those suggestions, Phil! It seems that exercises like the ones you suggested would be good for getting the writing going.

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