Writing Your Memoir

From the beginning of civilisation, humans have loved to tell stories. From epics filled with adventurous heroes to moral-filled tales for children, everyone loves a good yarn.

And yet Aussie seniors are letting their own accounts get forgotten with time. That’s right! Your accumulation of a lifetime of experiences, memories, and unique stories can fill the pages of your very own book.

For many seniors, the process of writing a memoir can be daunting and overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to get you started on your journey.

What is a Memoir?

Memoirs are non-fiction (true) accounts of events and memories from your life. Told in first-person, they give the reader intimate access to your life stories, allowing them to experience them as you did. Writing a memoir can be a powerful way to reflect on your life, leave a legacy for future generations, and share your wisdom and life lessons with others.

1) Create a Plan

Not many people can sit down at their computer and craft an engaging book without first creating a plan. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but one way to ensure you continue your memoir journey even through dry writing spells is to know where you are going.

Compile a list of the memories you want to explore and make as many notes for each of them as you can. Once you have the framework, you can have some fun, mixing around the order and telling your overall story the way only you can (unlike autobiographies, memoirs don’t need to go in chronological order).

2) Be Selective

Not all aspects of your life need to be told in your memoir. It is OK to be selective about the stories you include. Do you wish for there to be a common theme? Perhaps focus on your memories of key ages or moments with specific emotional meaning. Remember, these memories may be yours, but the overall theme will often be something many of your readers can relate to.

3) Write to the Best of Your Recollection

It can be hard to remember specific details of an event sometimes decades after it occurred. While the passage of time might leave some parts of your memory fuzzy, try to write to the best of your recollection. If others were with you at the time, ask them what they remember. Were photos or videos taken? They can spark memories and help you set the scene.

4) Be Truthful

Perhaps an obvious, but very important tip. No one wants to air their own failings, but there’s no point in writing your memoir if you are going to sugar-coat events. Whether you are writing solely for your own enjoyment, or to pass along your stories to future generations, the truth is always the way to go.

5) Show, Don’t Tell

This is a common tip for fiction writers but is just as important when writing your memoir. Let your readers feel as if they were a part of the events by making every page a sensory experience. Build your scenes around the emotions, using all of your senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. This will create vivid scenes tha

6) Personality

To make your memoir truly magical, make sure to let your personality shine through. Don’t focus too much on finding the biggest words or using the prettiest prose. What readers truly want is to learn about your experiences and how they have affected you. Include humour, slang, and anything else you want to give readers the best sense of who you are.

From comedic anecdotes to military tales, and family sagas, there are plenty of stories inside of you just waiting to get out. So, grab a pen and paper, and get cracking!

Michelle Sommerville

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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