Five steps to starting and making your memoir a reality.

While some memoirs are cherished in local circles among friends and family, others go on to become bestsellers and major motion pictures. What both types of memoirs have in common, however, is that their authors didn’t just think about writing a memoir: they got started and they didn’t give up.

If you would like to write your own memoir but aren’t sure where to start, then today I’d like to share with you a few process tips that I hope will help you get started in no time.

Step #1. Discover Your Reason

Anything worth doing has a reason behind it, so please take a moment to consider what it is that attracts you to the idea of sharing some of your own memories in book form. Would you like to share more of your memories with loved ones? Do you like the idea of embarking on a bold creative project? Or maybe you would like to share your stories with a wider audience? 

Whatever your reason is, if it’s strong enough to light a fire in you, then it’s strong enough to see you through the journey of writing your own memoir.

Step #2. Find Your Focus

Unlike autobiographies which recount the whole of a person’s life, memoirs have a more narrow focus. So what will the focus of your memoir be? Your reason for wanting to start writing a memoir can provide you with clues. 

For example, if you wanted to write your memoir as a creative project for yourself, then you might consider writing about your past creative endeavors. Or perhaps a creative event or relationship that has meant a lot to you over the years. 

The trick is not to overthink it. Choose the focus that feels right, right now. Your focus may end up shifting during the writing process, and that’s okay. You just need a starting point if you want to get started. 

Step #3. Remember

Memoirs are built on memories. Do you remember yours?

Simply closing your eyes and letting your mind wander may conjure up all sorts of memories for you. But if you need a little help, try reviewing your photos and other keepsakes, reading old journals, talking to others who were there or maybe even revisiting some of your most important places. Just immerse yourself in whatever will help bring back your memories. 

Step #3. Start Writing

Unless you plan to hire a ghostwriter to write your memoir, which some people do, then it’s time to get the show on the road and start writing. They could be brief notes or full chapters, one-off dialogues or descriptions of places. It doesn’t matter. Just start writing and getting your memories down on the page. Write and write, and then write some more!

Don’t be self-conscious. Don’t skimp with your words. Now is not the time to self-censor. This is the time to be honest and raw and to have fun with your words and your memories. For now, just put everything down on the page. You’ll do your pruning and shaping soon enough.  

Step #4. Review Your Raw Material and Find Your Memoir’s Unifying Thread

If you’re like me, reviewing your raw material can be thrilling as you relive what you experienced and wrote and achieved on paper. But you’re not finished yet. 

Put down your writing and take a step back. Try looking at what you wrote from more of an outsider’s perspective. What does it say to you?

You need to put your finger on the pulse of your story. What is the narrative you’re telling? And is it easy to follow, or is it hard to grasp? Try explaining to someone what your memoir draft is about in 50 words or less.

Step #5. Edit Your Memoir and Reveal Your Story

This is where your memoir will go through several rounds of editing as you refine your voice, strengthen your story and gain coherence. 

You might end up cutting pages and pages of scenes and details and characters, and writing and rewriting and rewriting again, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. Editing is a creative journey in and of itself, and in the right doses, it will reveal your masterpiece in the end. Embrace the editing process!

I hope these five steps have given you a greater idea of what it takes to start writing your own memoir, get going and keep going. I know you can do it.  

Dudley Court Press

Dudley Court Press works with writers like you every day. As a full-service, hybrid publishing house, we help thoughtful people write their books and become successful published authors.

For more information, including about DCP’s programs for writers including Writers’ Sprint and Aspiring Author to Published Pro, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or publisher@DudleyCourtPress.com.