Writing your memoirs is intensely personal, conveying your memories through the filter of your emotions and experiences. Finding and expressing your voice – your personality and soul as it conveys your story – is difficult for many writers. Your voice is one of the most fundamental ways readers experience your story. Your memoir’s voice helps readers share what you feel and see the story through your eyes. It elicits emotions and binds them to your tale.
Being Your Authentic Self
Authenticity is difficult when writing your memoirs. When beginning, many writers tend to self-edit. They consciously pick and choose their words carefully. The desire to sound polished and clever may be uppermost in the writer’s mind. However, this kind of effort can stifle your authentic voice. Resist the urge to “dress up” your writing for your audience.
Writing as though you are talking to others, even your friends or family can also be a mistake. While the way you speak or post on social media may feel comfortable, it is still an edited version of you. All of us shift voices when talking to different audiences. The voice you use even with those closest to you is edited for your comfort and theirs.
To Find Your Authentic Voice, Forget the Audience
The simplest way to capture your memoir’s voice is to forget your audience. Begin writing your memoirs as though you are journaling. Write for yourself. Record your memories and how you felt as though addressing yourself. Allow your emotions to come out on the page freely, without censure. As you write, you will discover a flow to your writing. You will naturally begin to write with humor, pathos, or earnestness as you work through your memoir. This is the time to write without revising or editing. As you write, your voice will naturally evolve. You can edit later.
The Continuity of Voice
The voice of your memoir is what will pull your story together and provide a common thread for readers. It is the personality of your memoir. You can write a memoir about a tragic event in many different ways – sorrowful, sarcastic, witty, uplifting, regretful – but a good memoir will be consistent in its voice throughout. Switching from an uplifting voice to a sarcastic one is jarring for readers and breaks the bond between reader and writer. As a reader is drawn into your memoirs, they begin to feel what you felt. Shifting gears can destroy the connection between your world and theirs.
The Bravery of Finding Your Authentic Voice
All of these tips for finding your voice are useless unless you are fearless with your writing. Your voice, in the end, has to reflect you—who you truly are and how you authentically lived the life you are immortalizing in your memoirs. It is not self-conscious or staged. Finding your voice means stripping down your writing to the essential, honest you.
If you are still a romantic at heart, express that. Don’t worry that others may find your romanticism naïve. If you are a natural skeptic, let it show in your memoir’s voice. Ask questions, reveal your inner doubts. Finding your authentic voice when writing your memoirs means stripping away the veneer to reveal the innermost you. It is this that will turn your memories into a story that only you can tell.
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 latest program Aspiring Author to Published Pro, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or publisher@DudleyCourtPress.com. We will soon be launching our latest program as well, Memoir Writing for Non-Writers. Be watching for details about this exciting program in the upcoming weeks!