Memoir writing for beginners

Go ahead. Write a memoir. It’s easy; you don’t have to do research or have a Ph.D. to write a memoir. You don’t even have to figure out how to make the Mongolian Death Worm kill off your protagonist’s third husband without it sounding contrived.

Write about your subject—you—and then try to find a way to make it interesting. Figure out an order for your story. Use Teri’s questions. What question are you trying to answer in chapter 1? What are you trying to learn writing this book?

Then open your notebook and see a list of chapters and a list of questions that you think you’re trying to answer. Let’s say that your deepest fear is that your first-born is going to become a clown and join the circus. Let’s say you have major clown-phobia and are worried that you can never look at your first-born in the eyes again.

Finish your daily editing, go for a quick run, decide that you should probably write a little after dinner. See that your first question is “How do I invite First-Born over for dinner now that he is a clown and clowns make me run screaming from the room?” Decide whether you are up for facing your greatest fear on the page in a way that is interesting to others or whether you just give up now and take up knitting.

What’s it like for you?


5 responses to “Memoir writing for beginners

  1. It’s a lot like trying to have as much fun as possible killing off husbands by Mongolian Death Worms—on paper, promise—before my inner critic catches on and asks me what the hell I think I’m doing with my supposed hypothetical potential.

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