Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

5 Things Memoir Authors Can Be Thankful For on Thanksgiving

Two people wearing t-shirts saying "thankful"

You memoir authors work so hard to reach your goal of writing and publishing your life story. Write My Memoirs has identified five things you can be thankful for this Thanksgiving, whether you’re in the U.S. or elsewhere:

1. Your life. It’s pretty obvious, but your memoir is about a life, your life, and life is a gift. Whether you’re writing about a happy life or one full of trauma and grief, you have a life worth writing about.

2. Modern technology. From word processing software to photo editing to digital printing, today’s tech makes memoir creation easier, faster and more accurate than ever. Many of you are old enough to remember Wite-Out, erase tape and other inadequate methods of correcting errors. Cropping photos was done with red wax pencils. It wasn’t that long ago that authors would have to mail paper manuscripts to the printer. Without modern tech tools, you would have to hire professionals to complete every step instead of just sending a completed pdf to a self-publishing company like Write My Memoirs.

3. Supportive people. Most likely, at least one friend or family member is supporting your memoir goals. This support can keep you accountable, motivated and grateful.

4. Freedom to write. If you’re writing your memoir for publication, you have the freedom wherever you’re living to do that. We can’t take that freedom for granted. History shows that it’s fragile. Keep writing! Books contribute to freedom because they give the next generation information and perspective on what your life, living in freedom, has been like.

5. Health. Not all memoir authors would describe themselves as healthy. Perhaps you’re fighting an illness or living with a chronic condition. But you’re healthy enough to think through your life and, one way or another, get your story down.

At Write My Memoirs we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and all the turkey and trimmings you want. We’re thankful for you!

Memoir Authors Should Study “Finding Me” by Viola Davis

Screen capture of Goodreads review

Every successful memoir offers lessons for memoir authors. Celebrities who want to write a memoir have an easy time getting an advance from a publishing company, but having that advance, or even being a celebrity, does not guarantee that the memoir will be a best-seller. To appeal to readers, it has to be well-written and tell a compelling story, just like most other best-selling books. So when a celebrity memoir does sell briskly, it’s worth taking a look for those lessons.

Lessons for Your Memoir Writing

Viola Davis’s Finding Me is a good place to start. Any rise to fame is at least marginally interesting if described well, but Davis has more than that to work with. She had a childhood framed in extreme poverty, bullying and parental fighting, and she experienced rejection after rejection because casting directors didn’t find her pretty enough, or light-skinned enough, for leading roles.

Davis tells her story in ordinary, yet eloquent, language while quoting dialogue in the voices of people speaking casually, people less educated than she eventually was. She draws in the reader with every sentence and makes that look easy.

From the Write My Memoirs review on Goodreads, here are a few other tips this book offers memoir writers:

“Like many memoirs, Finding Me begins with a pivotal moment in the author’s life. In a lot of celebrity memoirs, that moment recalls a time along the journey of fame—after its launch but not too far in. Instead, Davis starts her memoir with an episode from her childhood. That’s because the little girl, Viola, influences the entire story. Davis always goes back to who that girl was, the hard life she endured, and who she remains in memory, legacy and perpetuity.

“From that episode, Davis jumps way ahead to a related anecdote from her time as the star of the TV show How to Get Away with Murder and then to another pertinent episode soon after, at her therapist’s office when she was 53, shortly before she wrote this book. Bridging little Viola with both famous, multi-award-winning Ms. Davis and private Viola Davis sets the tone for the book: they’re all the same person. The actor we applaud is still the child inside.”

Specific Devices in Memoir Writing

Memoir authors often reach for segues to soften the lines between topics. Davis uses a kind of basic technique that shows even sophisticated memoirs can rely on common writing devices. To tell readers about her mother’s background, she starts with how she always studies her mom’s face whenever they’re together. She can see the lines and wear and tear from a rough life. Then she goes into that life. When she’s finished, it’s easy to transition to her father’s life.

Your story may have many of the same elements of Davis’s memoir—rising above a tough childhood, for example. Read Finding Me to inspire you to tell your story in a way that keeps the pages turning.

What’s With the New Look for Write My Memoirs?

writemymemoirs.com snips from home page

We are excited to bring you not just a fresh, easy-to-navigate look for the Write My Memoirs website but also a number of new options to help you write and publish your memoir. Now that our website redesign has gone live, we invite you to explore!

One of the first things you’ll notice is that we’ve packaged up some services to give you a break on the price tag if you were to purchase the services separately. New memoir authors typically need both coaching and editing, so we created a package for those two services. Since many want to go ahead and publish their book as well, we added publishing to create a three-part package.

Memoir “Soup to Nuts”

You can come to Write My Memoirs without one word written and leave with a published book. That may sound like a pipe dream, but we guide you through every step, “soup to nuts,” as you build your dream and make it come true. If you don’t know where to start your story, we’ll talk it through with you. If you can’t get into a writing habit, we’ll assign exercises to get you comfortable getting down the frames, facts and feelings that define your life story.

On our home page and in a “learn more” popup, we tell you how we approach memoir writing for the average person and what frustrates us about other sites offering similar services. We consider writing a memoir to be a serious goal that takes some work but brings you, your family, your friends and your descendants a world of “wow.” People who love you get to know you in the way you want them to know you.

Schedule a Call!

A serious goal is not necessarily a complicated goal. That’s where we depart from other sites. You’ll put your heart and soul into your memoir, but the process of writing, getting it edited and publishing your book is pretty straightforward. Whether you enjoy that process or not, at the end you will have a product that you can treasure and distribute the rest of your life.

We’re not slick and shiny. We’re sincere, down to earth and helpful. Schedule a call with us today! We would love to work with you.

10 Ways Writing Your Memoir Boosts Your Self-Esteem

Man jumping from one cliff to another

Like any goal, completing your memoir will bring you a sense of accomplishment. That’s not the only way it will make you feel good, but let’s start there in counting out the 10 benefits writing your memoir has in store for you.

The new adjectives you can use to refer to yourself will be:

  1. Accomplished. Writing a memoir is an achievement! There’s nothing like working on a goal until you finish it to make you feel that you had time well spent. Go ahead and cross it off your list!
  2. Industrious. Writing a memoir is a long process, and it’s hard work. It’s an extra task, apart from your day job, family responsibilities and ordinary routine. You got down to work and did it.
  3. Persistent, also tenacious and persevering. So many people start Chapter 1 but never get to Chapter Last. You stuck with it.
  4. Relieved. Even if you enjoyed the process, on some level you’re relieved that it’s over. And if writing your memoir was part of healing from trauma, then you’re very relieved that, finally, you can truly move on.
  5. Magnanimous. Writing your life story for others to read and learn from is a generous act of giving back to your family, the community and, well, the universe.
  6. Brilliant. You’re brilliant not in the meaning of super-intelligent, but in the brilliance of shining like a star. When you finish your memoir, you are a shining star, lighting the way for others and beaming with the glow of, again, accomplishment.
  7. Talented, also artistic. Not everyone can sit down and write at all. You have the skill to get what’s in your head onto the screen/paper, and you’re not just reporting facts. A memoir is a work of art, showcasing your own writing flair.
  8. Grateful. You probably weren’t sure you could do this, and maybe you worried whether you’d live long enough to see your book. Gratitude for the opportunity to write and publish is a common outcome.
  9. Brave, also courageous, a synonym, but this point deserves two words even if they mean the same thing. It’s not easy to put yourself out there, display your triumphs and errors, your assets and weaknesses. Good for you.
  10. Trendy. From celebrities and politicians right down to people with what can be considered ordinary lives (no life is ordinary, really), everyone is writing a memoir! You’re on trend now that you’ve written yours.

Would you like to claim all of those ten attributes? Plus an 11th – proud of yourself? Start writing—or continue writing—your memoir, and when you finish you will feel all of that.

Freeform Writing Can Be the First Step of Your Memoir Journey

Woman writing on paper

If you know that you want to write your memoir but can’t seem to get the words on paper or screen, you may think that you need more direction. So you create an outline or a storyboard. You make a list of the stories you’ll tell. You look through old photographs, calendars and diaries to remind you of the important episodes of your life. Then, still, you can’t write it out the way you want. Something is blocking you.

This isn’t writer’s block; it’s an emotional block. You could write it if you could think it, but your memory is hazy. Maybe it feels like a blurry picture you can’t put into focus. Or there’s a high shelf, and you stand on your toes but still can’t see what’s on it. Or you’re trying to get clarity on a fuzzy idea, and you reach out, you grab it, but when you open your fist there’s nothing there. Somehow it eluded you again.

What you need may be less direction, not more. Freeform writing may unlock that memory block and bring you the clarity you’re looking for. But be prepared, because you may discover that you’ve been keeping a big secret from yourself. You’re keeping the secret from your own conscious mind.

If you think you can emotionally handle whatever it is you’re hiding, here are some tips for freeform writing.

  1. You can try to set aside a time for freeform writing, but don’t worry too much about planning. If you find yourself with one or two hours of unexpected open time, take it. Sometimes it’s easier when you don’t have time to anticipate and develop anxiety. Instead, you have the time so you just do it.
  2. Make sure, though, that your time will be uninterrupted. You must be alone.
  3. Most people will probably need quiet. But if you normally write with music in the background, you can try that. There are no rules, only whatever works for you.
  4. Use the instrument you prefer, and if it doesn’t work try another one. If normally you type on your laptop, try that first. If it doesn’t work, try a desktop if you have one or put pen to paper. The opposite is true, too. You may think that you feel more in touch with your writing when it’s handwritten instead of typed, but in this case you may need distance, an emotional barrier, to get out some painful memories. Keyboarding rather than handwriting may provide that for you.
  5. Just write. It’s called freeform writing because you write whatever is in your thoughts without any filter. If you think, “I feel stupid doing this,” write that. Keep writing. “It’s raining. I wish it would stop.” Anything that is inconsequential or may not even make sense will still get your mind thinking. Eventually you’ll write something that will give you a clue.
  6. Read closely what you wrote. If you didn’t have a breakthrough, maybe you can find those clues in there somewhere. Why did you write about the cat you owned as a child? What made you think of that? As you do more freeform writing, you may start to see patterns. Why do you always seem to write about a certain year in your life? Or why does one person in your life always come to mind? Your questions can lead you to answers and prepare your mind for your next writing session.
  7. Monitor your physical reactions. Does your body change as you write certain things? Maybe you’re breathing more heavily, sweating, experiencing nausea, turning red with anger or embarrassment, clenching your teeth or feeling a tight jaw in anger. Awareness of your body during freeform writing can help you pinpoint the thoughts that trigger those reactions.
  8. Be persistent, but don’t push harder than you can handle. You may feel that you’re very close to learning something, and at that point you should try to stick with it. Just don’t put your physical health in danger. You can pick it up next time if you have to.

Freeform writing is not only for memoir authors who want to uncover a traumatic episode. It also can help you just get comfortable writing out your experiences and deepest thoughts.

But if trauma is in your background, freeform writing can be the key that works for you if trying to think through it or talk through it hasn’t helped. Good luck to all of our memoir authors. Each of you has a unique path to follow.

New Book by Celebrated Author Anna Quindlen Promotes Memoir Writing

Thumbnail of book Write for Your Life

Many people recognize the value of writing and sharing a memoir, but not everyone writes a whole book about it. In her 2022 book, Write for Your Life, celebrated columnist and author Anna Quindlen lists all the reasons to appreciate memoirs.

You have a unique, interesting story to tell, so please write it down, Quindlen urges. Write it for yourself, and write it to share with others. From Anne Frank to the Freedom Writers to anyone who’s ever found comfort in writing and, particularly, memoir writing, we have ample proof that expressing yourself through writing is a worthy pastime.

Memoir Helps You and Your Readers

First, the process of writing about yourself in your own voice benefits you. The continuum Quindlen identifies is that writing causes reflection, which leads to understanding, which leads to happiness. It’s simplified and overstated, but I love that she promotes memoir writing in those terms. Reflecting on your life and maybe interviewing people who know you, and then writing it all down, enlightens you in so many ways. And while I’m not sure Quindlen can guarantee that this new understanding will bring you happiness, I have seen memoir writing become cathartic for people working through trauma or just learning how they’ve arrived at a place in their life.

Quindlen points out that sharing your life story can help strangers who have faced the hardships you faced. For family, your story can provide a history of their own heritage. Friends will enjoy learning more about you. If you’re a woman or a person of color, writing your memoir is even more important, maintains Quindlen, who notes that nearly all the history we know was written by white men. It’s through their lens that we’ve been told the history of everyone. It’s time to pass the pen.

She notes that what gets written down gets remembered. This is so true. If you journal or enjoy corresponding with someone, you can go back and read what you wrote to make it come alive again. Sometimes we tell stories over and over, and then some years go by and we forget some of the details. Write down your family stories, and then you won’t have rely on one person’s memory.

Full Review on Goodreads

I take issue with Quindlen’s whining about the disappearance of handwritten letters. For me, neither the handwriting nor the hard copy carries enough benefits to outweigh the efficiency of keyboarding and email, not to mention how many trees we’re saving.

Click here to read the full Write My Memoirs review of Write for Your Life on Goodreads.

Sometimes We Make Mistakes…..

Wrong Way sign

We apologize for our most recent email. Please disregard it. As we mentioned in our last post, we are working on a redesign of the Write My Memoirs website and adding new packages to help you write your memoir, and we got a few wires crossed.

Please take a look at this post from last fall that gives you a lot of tips for how to choose a cover for your memoir.

Wrap Your Memoir in its Perfect Cover

More Services Coming to Write My Memoirs Authors

blank, open book and pencil

We have some exciting announcements! You have always been able to write your memoir in your free account here on Write My Memoirs. That courtesy will remain! Keep your writing in your account, and access it from anywhere, anytime.

For many years we’ve also offered writing services to Write My Memoirs authors as well as to the general public. We’ll edit your work or ghostwrite your book for you, and you retain all rights, of course. When your manuscript is ready, we provide self-publishing services that include layout and simple cover design.

All of that will continue. So what’s new?

We want to make your dream of writing a memoir come true. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, and that’s where we’ll soon be adding services. How should you begin Chapter One? Which stories should you include? Should you follow a chronological structure or jump around throughout your life?

These questions can trip you up, but we’re very familiar with the struggles memoir authors face and how to get over the hurdles. Some questions have easy answers, while others will take a conversation to help you make decisions. There is no best way to write a memoir, but there may be a best way for you to write yours. We’ll help you identify it.

We’ll supply motivation, too, not only by giving you specific assignments and checking in with you, but also by doing some editing and organizing as you proceed. Seeing your book come to life little by little motivates you to continue even when other demands are competing for your time.

Through our new packages, you’ll be able to select the “soup to nuts” option, just the “front end” of coaching or, as now, only the editing or the self-publishing. If you’re just sitting down now to write your memoir, we can have you holding your book in your hand one year from now.

If you want to get a head start, fill out our Contact Us form and let us know your vision for your book. We can’t wait to work with you, and we think that’s very exciting!

Five Punctuation Marks You Won’t Need in Your Memoir

Woman pushing out with hand spread into five fingers

Learning all about punctuation will make you a more skilled writer, and our Write My Memoirs Grammar and Writing Course explains how to use all the punctuation marks. But do you need to have that level of skill to write your memoir? No, you don’t.

Know how to end a sentence. You’ll need either a period, a question mark or an exclamation point, and in a memoir you may never need that exclamation point except in dialogue. Know how to properly use a comma. An em dash like this—and often we use two to enclose a thought fragment—comes in handy, so you might want to find out how to use that. You’ll need hyphens for hyphenated terms like father-in-law and cold-hearted.

You must learn how to use an apostrophe. That one is important, and we cover it thoroughly in our course.

But that’s about it. Here are five punctuation marks you don’t need in order to craft a memoir.

  • Semicolon. A semicolon acts like a period to end a sentence. The distinction is that the semicolon ends a sentence that immediately precedes a second sentence closely related to the first. You’ll be good at this job; your background is perfect. That’s an appropriate use of a semicolon, but you also can just stick a period in there.
  • Colon. A colon introduces a list or a thought. It’s easy to avoid. I packed the following: shorts, a bathing suit, gym shoes, three t-shirts and a pair of jeans. To avoid the colon, just omit “the following:” and write what you packed.
  • Parentheses. You just don’t need parentheses. Anything you want to enclose in parentheses can be enclosed between commas or em dashes instead. Parentheses tend to weaken the impact of writing, and you certainly don’t need them in a memoir.
  • Brackets. This is a rare punctuation mark in general. Brackets serve as parentheses within parentheses, and we already know that we don’t even need the first set, much less the second set within the first set. Brackets also serve to speak directly to the reader, as in [sic], which will never come up in a memoir.
  • Single quotation marks. Although it’s become common to use single quotes to indicate little phrases that writers think don’t warrant actual quotation marks, this is a completely fabricated use. The only use for single quotation marks is to indicate a quote within a quote. In dialogue, it can come up. “I want to see ‘Titanic’ this summer,” she said. So you may need to use single quotation marks, but you probably won’t. Also, you can just italicize a movie title like Titanic instead.

So don’t worry about those five punctuation marks. To learn more, take our online course!

Writing a Memoir about a Traumatic Experience

Bulletin board posted with types of trauma

Documenting trauma is a common motivation for writing a memoir. But to write this type of memoir, authors have to go through the event emotionally all over again. That’s a big hurdle. At Write My Memoirs, we want to help you conquer that challenge.

Roxane Gay, whose own memoir documents trauma, advises writers to be raw, honest and pretty explicit. She believes your depiction of your horrifying experience should fall short of traumatizing your reader but still provide enough graphic detail so that the reader may have to put down your book for an hour or even a day before finishing that part.

Be Gentle With Yourself When Writing About Trauma

Going over what happened to you is something you can’t force. Chances are that by the time you’re considering writing this memoir, months or years have already passed since the traumatic event occurred. You didn’t just sit down at your computer the next day. But maybe the time still isn’t right.

Ask yourself whether you’re ready to more or less relive the event. If you feel that you cannot handle it, there’s no harm in waiting longer, letting more time pass between the you that faced trauma and the you that is writing the book. It’s difficult to write about it.

More Tips on Trauma Documentation

One way to find out whether you’re up to the task is to start out by writing just 15 or 20 minutes a day. Keep that up for a week, and you’ll know whether telling your story is providing a sense of relief or compounding your anxiety.

Writing for Writer’s Digest, author Kelly Clink shares tips from her own experience writing about her brother’s death by suicide. She advises writers not to keep this writing goal to yourself. As you’re writing about a traumatic event, she says, it will help to alert your therapist, family members and friends that you’re in the process of sorting out this terrible event by writing about it.

Making Your Story Relatable

Clink and other experts make the distinction between a memoir you write as therapy and a memoir you write to sell. The former is for you, the latter for everyone else. If your goal is to get closure or work out your feelings of trauma, then include the content you need for your own wellbeing. If your goal is to help others, that’s a whole different book. In that case, you’re writing for them, not for you, and you should be more selective in your content as well as less indulgent in your writing voice. Of course, you can do both. Write the book for yourself, and use that as the foundation for crafting a different, more marketable memoir.

The way to write for others is to make your personal story relatable to a lot of people. Think about what they will want to take from your experience. That doesn’t mean you should make it a how-to guide on recovering from trauma. Tell the story as a dramatic, compelling, page-turning saga. Then it can be both a valuable book for your readers and a statement of your own triumph over, or acceptance of, your traumatic ordeal.

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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!