What You Really Need to Know About Memoir Writing

I’ve always thought that if I were to ever write a memoir, it’d be the most boring 80,000 words in the history of publishing (or at least a close second to this). My life has, thus far, been fun, entertaining and interesting to me, but how would that translate into an interesting story?

Then I started reading the 5-Minute Memoir. It’s a new(er) column in WD. In only a few hundred words, these writers grip me so emotionally that I’m continually disappointed they’re over so quickly. But what reading these makes me realize is that everyone has a memoir in them—it’s just a matter of how deep you are willing to dig, how honest you are willing to be with yourself. Are you willing to explore some of the more difficult times of your life?

Taking a deep look at myself would have to start with one of these:

  • I grew up unintentionally nerdy (as most of us word nerds do) and paid a price for it.
  • My Mom was diagnosed with lupus when I was 13 and suffered a stroke when I was 21, leaving crumbs of heartbreak scattered throughout my entire life.
  • My Dad unexpectedly suffered a massive heart attack and died earlier this year—and, even though I’d been a father for nearly 4 years, this was the moment I officially grew up.

So maybe I do have a non-boring memoir in my after all. Who knows. What I do know is that this great 5-Minute Memoir by Robert B. Robeson really got me thinking—and that’s what great writing does.

If you’re writing a memoir or have ever considered it (or have never considered it before but are now thinking about it because of this post), check out these great instructional articles and resources all focused on writing a great memoir:

The Key Elements of Writing a Good Memoir

Write Personal Without Hurting Your Relationships

What “Based on a True Story” Really Means (Think James Frey)

Finding Your Memoir’s Voice

Evoke Emotions in Your Readers Through Your Memoir

(NOTE: When in doubt on any legalities [Can I use real names? Will I get sued?]  it’s best to contact an attorney that specializes in defamation of character laws.)

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
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