Write Your Memoir: How to Write About What Troubles You the Most

by Melinda Copp - Date: 2008-11-12 - Word Count: 498 Share This!

Everyone has a story to tell, and unfortunately those stories aren't always pleasant. What makes memoirs and other personal stories of recovery and triumph so appealing is that struggle is universal. And writing about it is one way-a great way-to make sense out of what troubles you the most.

However, when you want to share your experiences, you often have to confront your demons head-on. Depending on the demon, this can be pretty challenging. And depending on your mindset at the time you sit down to write, the results can be just as ugly.

For example, when you write about your parents neglecting you, you can't completely bash them, no matter how heinous they were or how good it feels to get back at them. If you do, then your story will come across as one-dimensional and biased.

The trick is to create art and deeper meaning from your personal experiences that resonate beyond what happened to you. So how can you accomplish this? Consider the following tips.

1. Show all Sides of the Story
Sure, your mom may have rivaled the wicked witch. And maybe your ex-husband was an idiot. You know that, and you want everyone who reads your story to know it too. But you can't only focus on the negative aspects of the people who wronged you.

This is a rule from journalism school that definitely works in creative writing. When you write about something-no matter how much you don't like it-put your preconceptions aside and seek to understand. If you can portray your characters as three-dimensional human beings, their true nature will show through regardless and your story will have more depth as a result.

2. Do Your Research
Memoir is based on memory, but that doesn't mean you can't add depth and meaning (and accuracy) to your story by researching the events you're writing about. Talk to you siblings and friends about what they remember. And talk to your antagonist and their friends, if they're still around. Then present the facts you gather. The primary benefit of research is finding the truth, which is the heart of all successful memoirs.

3. Write from a Positive Place
Sure, it feels good to write terrible things about the people who've wronged you. But this sort of writing really belongs in a diary where it won't ever see the light of day. And if you can't honestly say that you are over your past, then writing about it in your diary is probably a good place to start. Then start all over when you're ready to write for an audience.

Writing Your Memoir
Memoir is one of the most popular literary genres right now. And if you have a story to tell, you should definitely write yours. But if you want to publish it successfully, then you have to avoid writing something that comes off as a one-sided therapy session. Considering these three tips will help you write a memoir that communicates the deeper meaning of your personal history.

Related Tags: writing, memoir, write a book, melinda copp, book editor

Melinda Copp is a writing coach, book editor, and ghostwriter who specializes in helping aspiring authors achieve their writing goals. Sign up for Melinda's free e-zine, and learn the top ten mistakes aspiring authors make and how to avoid them!

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