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.