Writing your memoirs is an intensely personal experience. You’re sharing a slice of your life that you feel can impart wisdom or comfort to others. You may feel a kind of catharsis getting your story out into the world, but you also have to remember that your story is inextricably entwined with the lives of those you love.

Create Allies Instead of Adversaries

Although your memoirs may be filled with people to whom you owe no allegiance, others have helped you along the way and they are the ones you care about. These are the people you will want to let know about your intentions when writing your memoirs.

Writing your memoirs can be an act of love and a catharsis if handled with respect and gratitude. Talking to your family and keeping them informed as you write will go a long way toward getting them to support your memoirs instead of being suspicious of them. The sooner you tell them of your intentions, the more time they will have to become comfortable with the idea.

Be Compassionate When Writing Your Memoirs

Begin by explaining that you’re telling your story, not theirs. Be sure your family understands that a memoir isn’t about placing blame or exposing others. You are writing your memoirs because you have a great need to share your story with others. You feel that others will benefit from reading about something you’ve experienced. It may be surviving something tragic, learning from a unique experience, or merely living a unique lifestyle. Explain that if they are mentioned in your memoirs, they have been a valuable part of that experience. Let them know you want to share their involvement in it with the world.

Your Story is Your Story, No One Else’s

Regardless of how anyone else feels about your story, remember that no one else can color or change your story. You can tell others that you are writing your memoirs and ask for your support, but do not let them discourage you. Memoirs are told from the perspective of one person alone. They are not an objective history; they come from heart, soul, memory, and emotion rather than a straightforward narrative. If they want to give their perspective or input, it can be valuable, but do not let them question or deny your story.

Respect What Boundaries You Can When Writing Your Memoirs

As far as you can, respect the privacy and boundaries of those you love while still maintaining your story’s integrity. When writing your memoirs, you record many individual tales of incidents that highlight the central narrative of what molded you or changed your life in some fundamental way. Some will be minor, others significant. Perhaps there will be seemingly insignificant details crucial to your story that you can’t leave out. If some stories have features that are embarrassing to a loved one that don’t further the narrative, consider removing the window dressing for their sake. Of course, you must be careful to avoid invasions of privacy or libelous statements under any circumstances.

Let Your Family See a Draft of

No one likes to be blindsided in print. While all final decisions when writing your memoirs are yours, it is a kindness to show your loved ones a final draft. Let them read it, so they know ahead of time what to expect. They may ask you if some scenes can be changed or removed. That is up to you, but it will allow you to discuss these passages and help them understand why they are essential. They will also be prepared for the book when it is published.

Writing your memoirs is a challenging, emotionally exhausting process. Knowing how to talk to your family about this intensely personal project can make it easier for everyone.