Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Memoir vs. Autobiography

Memoir vs. Autobiography
The other day someone asked me to define the difference between memoir and autobiography. Here at Write My Memoirs, we use the terms interchangeably, so I had to do a little research to learn whether we’re in accordance with general usage. While I think that most people do consider the terms to be more or less synonymous, some writers and publishers make a distinction.
The best explanation of memoir vs. autobiography I found was by Laura Tretter, director of the San Juan Island Public Library. First, I needed to figure out where San Juan Island was. Did you know that it’s nowhere near San Juan, Puerto Rico? Nope, it’s part of Washington state—far north, near British Columbia, Canada. So I learned something there.
When Ms. Tretter researched the use of these two similar words, she discovered that, primarily, people who distinguish memoir from autobiography consider the former to be an account of any part of the author’s life, delivered in any order, while the latter relates all of the notable events of the author’s life, typically in chronological order. So if you’re writing only about your service in World War II or your days as a Broadway dancer, you’re crafting a memoir. If you’re starting with your birth and providing your life’s details leading to present day, you’re writing an autobiography. At Write My Memoirs, we invite you to author either one!

The other day someone asked me to define the difference between memoir and autobiography. Here at Write My Memoirs, we use the terms interchangeably, so I had to do a little research to learn whether we’re in accordance with general usage. While I think that most people do consider the terms to be more or less synonymous, some writers and publishers make a distinction.

The best explanation of memoir vs. autobiography I found was by Laura Tretter, director of the San Juan Island Public Library. First, I needed to figure out where San Juan Island was. Did you know that it’s nowhere near San Juan, Puerto Rico? Nope, it’s part of Washington state—far north, near British Columbia, Canada. So I learned something there.

When Ms. Tretter researched the use of these two similar words, she discovered that, primarily, people who distinguish memoir from autobiography consider the former to be an account of any part of the author’s life, delivered in any order, while the latter relates all of the notable events of the author’s life, typically in chronological order. So if you’re writing only about your service in World War II or your days as a Broadway dancer, you’re crafting a memoir. If you’re starting with your birth and providing your life’s details leading to present day, you’re writing an autobiography. At Write My Memoirs, we invite you to author either one!

Login

Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!