Memoir writing is a popular form of expression. Many of us experience at least one life changing moment in our lives and it’s natural to want to share our experiences. It’s in our human nature to want to help others who may be going through the same thing we did or to connect with people who have had similar experiences. We hate to feel alone and reaching out to others who know what we went through or are currently going through is comforting. Writing and putting our experiences out there is the easiest way to build your own personal support group. Writing is also therapeutic, allowing you to work through your feelings and maybe even find some feelings you never knew were there.
Author Mary Karr recently published a book entitled, The Art of Memoir. She presented her book to a group of fans in California and gave out some really priceless advice for all of those struggling to write their life story- whether you wish to publish your writing or just keep it for yourself.
- You need to discover yourself before you can accurately write about yourself.
Before you sit down to write that memoir that has been stuck in the back of your mind for years, make sure you truly understand yourself. It sounds kind of silly, but you need to know who you are first- your beliefs, values, likes, dislikes, etc. You don’t want to accused of writing a ‘fake’ memoir. If you don’t truly understand who you are, how are other people going to? One exercise that will help with your soul searching is writing out a list of all the significant moments in your life. Sit down and think about your life from the moment you were put on this Earth. What stands out to you? What memories keep coming back to you? Those are probably the ones worth writing about.
2. Find your theme.
As you start to write, your memories will naturally start to group into themes. It’s then that you will truly find out what’s important to you.
3. Reaching ‘the end’ is a long journey.
Writing about yourself will be an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. There will be a constant fight between who you are versus who you think people want you to be. Don’t give into the critics or haters. There’s always someone that’s going to want to tear you down, especially when you are vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the criticism and even criticize your own work. The more layers you uncover, the more real your memoir will become.
I particularly like the advice about only sharing your memoir writing with close mentors or writing groups for a long time. Before you show it to your family and friends, you need to have processed it yourself. You need to be happy with the product and confident in the words you put down on the page. Revealing your writing to close family and friends might lead to some uneasy emotions or some hurtful comments. People can become defensive easily, especially if they are mentioned in your writing. You need to be ready to give your family and friends time to process your writing just as you had to do yourself.
Remember that the most important thing to do when writing a memoir is to write your own story. Write On.