Advice for Writing a Memoir

Choosing a topic
  • Think of an event that has somehow shaped who you are today. This can be a big thing (death of a loved one, divorce, moving) or it can be a small thing (sports, dancing, hobbies).
  • You look at the world a certain way, often differently than others...could this story illustrate your unique perspective?
  • It doesn't need to be HUGE (like that time you almost died). Sometimes the best memoirs are written about ordinary life.
Okay, now what?
  • Be honest. Don't try to embellish.
  • Show, don't tell. Instead of saying "my parents got divorced when I was 8" take your reader there. To the first time you saw your dad's new apartment. Or the day your mom got remarried. Or the day you found out. "I remember the day they told us. It was sunny outside."
  • End with a striking image, or memorable quote. Don't end with in conclusion, in closing, or furthermore. Your reader wants to know your moment of truth, but they don't want it spoon-fed to them. If they haven't figured it out by your last paragraph, you haven't done your job.
  • Be yourself. Don't try to be funny. Or sound smart. Just be you (not that you're not smart or funny).