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.
Author:
Publish date:

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?

KlemsMemoir

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
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

wd-Brian-web-19.jpg
writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.

Poetic Forms

Crown of Sonnets: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the crown of sonnets, a form that brings together seven sonnets in a special way.

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (and as a Person)

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (And as a Person)

Reflective writing—or journaling—is a helpful practice in helping understand ourselves, and by extensions, the stories we intend to write. Author Jeanne Baker Guy offers 25 ways reflective writing can help you grow as a writer (and as a person).

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your character know they're being followed.

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.