Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

How to Tell Whether You’re a Writer

How to Tell Whether You're a Writer little girl writing in a book

And why you don’t have to be a writer to write a great memoir

When you’re a writer, you write. You can tell whether you’re a writer just by looking at the sheer volume of your work. Do you have notebooks full of essays, poems, stories or even just thoughts? Is your computer filled with files of creative or expository writing?

Writers Write 24/7

When you’re a writer, your mood and the outside world may influence your subject matter, but none of that keeps you from writing. When you’re happy, you write. When you’re angry or sad, you also write. When you’re bored, you write, but when you’re so busy you don’t have a minute to spare, you still write. You don’t have to be an avid reader or a student of writing to be a writer. Some writers just have a feel for language without all that much example to follow.

Sometimes the writing is just in your head. This is when you’re not in the stage of getting it down on paper or into the computer. You’re more in the gathering stage—observing life in a way that writers do, with chapter titles or lines from a movie scene script scrolling across your mind.

Parents sometimes seek my advice. “My kid wants to be a writer,” they’ll say. “Is it easy to make a living from writing? Should my kid major in writing in college?”

I have only one response. “A writer writes,” I say. “Whether writing as a living or doing it as a hobby, if your kid is a writer, your kid will write.”

I think you might as well try to make money from what you love to do, but if you have another calling you’d rather pursue professionally, writing will still be there. Kids like that can become lawyers, and then the part of the job they love most is writing the brief. They can graduate with a major in business and still find lots of writing opportunities in marketing and other aspects of their job description. And if it does just end up as a hobby, it can be a very satisfying one.

Skill Level Is No Measure for Whether You’re a Writer

You can be a writer and yet not write very well. You may have an amateur hand at poetry or grammar errors in your essays or poorly constructed transitions in your short stories. Still, you get joy from the process of putting your thoughts into words, the words into sentences, the sentences into paragraphs, and you see where I’m going with this.

The opposite is true as well: you may write very well but not be a writer. Your boss may ask you to do a lot of writing in your job because you’re good at it. Maybe you’re able to knock off a speech for your sister’s wedding in an hour, and perhaps grammar and spelling come naturally to you. But you don’t choose to write for pleasure. You’re out doing other things. If you’re that person, you are not a writer.

Think about a natural athlete. How many of those have fallen by the wayside? The star high school basketball player, the gifted Little League pitcher, the promising tennis prodigy. Something else catches their interest, and the sport fades because, while they have more talent than everyone around them, their heart is not in the sport. If your heart is not in writing, you’re not a writer. But you still can write.

What skill level can determine is how much validation you receive about your writing. Typically, gifted writers receive a lot of encouragement in school, but I worry about writers who have more love than talent. A teacher who gets overzealous in criticizing your writing can kill the passion in you. That’s a real shame.

For one thing, you can improve in time. But mostly, if you love to write you should be encouraged even though you won’t be writing for a living or maybe even sharing your writing at all. The process of writing can be healing, so don’t give it up just because some teacher didn’t nourish your desire to write.

Both Writers and Non-writers Can Write a Memoir

If you’re trying to write a memoir, don’t worry about whether you’re a writer. Just keep at it until you finish your memoir. It may be your only completed written work or the only writing you’ve ever taken on voluntarily. Writing a memoir may be important to you for a lot of reasons; enjoying the writing process doesn’t have to be one of them.

And if you’re a writer in your heart and soul, a memoir may just be another format you feel like trying out. You may believe that you’ve lived an ordinary life, but you find it an exciting project to describe in writing the world that is uniquely yours.

My Own Example

I think I was pretty much born a writer. I wrote a song when I was about twelve, I always wrote my own cards for my parents’ birthdays, and I started writing poetry in high school. None of that came about as a conscious decision. The way a friendly person makes friends from childhood on, I just wrote as part of who I was.

My English literature major in college seemed an obvious choice, since in high school I received good grades on my term papers and enjoyed writing them. But halfway through college, when I took a couple of journalism courses, I had a name for what I really was: a journalist. I was a reporter. I could write up any set of facts. I realized that I enjoyed doing research and conducting interviews more than relying on my imagination to come up with plots and develop characters for creative writing. I never dreamed about writing the next great American novel.

Since then, I’ve been lucky to have been a working journalist, a grammar teacher, and eventually a memoir coach, editor and ghostwriter. But even though I write professionally, I still write for myself. My computer files’ labels tell the story: “old writings,” “miscellaneous writings,” “song lyrics,” “parenting reflections,” “speeches,” “TV pilot,” “poems,” “script ideas,” and dozens of titles of stories.

Even this blog—no one forces me to write it. I just like getting my thoughts down. I’m a writer. Maybe you are, too. Or maybe you’re not. That’s okay, and your memoir may still be amazing.

 

2,024 Reasons to Write Your Memoir This Year

2024 reasons to write your memoir

Numerology Offers a Lot of Motivation to Say: New Year, New Book.

Like a lot of people, memoir authors look for signs. Should I write my life story? I’ve started my memoir, but should I finish it? Will my memoir be any good if I write it? Give me a sign. Please!

According to numerologists, the coming year is full of signs that point to: Yes, write your memoir already. Wait no longer.

The First Two-Thousand Reasons

This is a lot to bite off, so let’s swallow the first 2,000 reasons in two big chunks and then take our time chewing on the last 24 reasons. The first 1,000 reasons boil down to the simple fact that you wanna do it. You want to chronicle your entire life or a segment or more of your life. You probably have even more than 1,000 reasons for wanting to write your book. In general, you should do what you want to do as long as it’s legal. So do it.

We can group the second 1,000 reasons as well, which come down to a sort of obligation to live authentically and leave a legacy or some type of inspiration. Your life, every life, is fascinating in its uniqueness. Your life, every life, is worthy of documenting. Your life, every life, provides lessons that you can pass along to others. There are at least 1,000 reasons for someone to want to read about your life and derive inspiration from it.

The Rest of the Reasons for Writing Your Memoir in 2024

Now let’s go more slowly as we tackle the remaining 24 reasons for you to write your memoir this year. I can come up with 24 generic reasons for you to start or complete this project—it makes a perfect New Year’s resolution, writing about your life is cathartic, writing a book is a very satisfying project, you’re not getting any younger, etc. Or you can customize 24 reasons that apply to you in particular. Maybe you have a high-number birthday coming up this year, or your children asked you to write up your life, or the part of your life you want to document has just ended and it’s fresh in your mind. Go ahead and write out those 24 reasons—can’t hurt!

But the 24 reasons I’m supplying here have their foundation in numerology. Even though I don’t believe at all in the non-science of numerology, I’m finding it interesting that the characteristics numerologists are assigning to the year 2024 align extremely well with the goal of writing a memoir. And maybe you do have some belief in this. Those of us who are skeptical still can have some fun and accept whatever motivation the universe seems to be sending us.

I’ll explain them first and then list them 1 through 24 in summary.

The Numerological Process of Evaluating the Year

Numerologists combine three approaches when predicting a year’s mood. First, they take each of the numbers individually. This coming year, then, since I don’t think zero counts, we’ll look at the numbers 2 and 4. Second, they add up the digits—2+0+2+4=8. They use the sum, which is 8 in this case, as the most significant number to analyze. Third, they drop the two-thousand and consider only 24, add those digits, and come up with the number 6.

To me, this means they cover a lot of bases. If 8 doesn’t work that well, they still have 6 and 2 and 4. But I’ll try to keep my snarky comments out of this and get back to taking the leap of faith.

A Close Look at the Numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8

According to The Times of India, the number 2 refers to the moon, and the moon is a sign that indicates money, work, jobs, abundance and emotions. Since there are two incidences of the number 2 in the year 2024, we can expect an abundance of abundance.

The number 4, according to the same source, is associated with Rahu, which is connected to new technology, ideas, opportunities and gains. Rahu is an imaginary shadow planet, so take that signage for what it’s worth.

When we drill into the sum of 2+4, which is 6, we connect to the planet Venus. This softens the year with a focus on love and affection, but it’s accompanied by challenges and growth. Numerologists encourage us to be true to our emotions involving love and affection.

The number 8 is associated with a lot of positivity. You know how a figure 8 loops around with no end? When you think about it, that’s a sideways infinity symbol. So 8 represents eternity and the totality of the universe. Picture it as “what goes around comes around,” and you’ll see why 8 is considered a sign of karma.

The Significance of 2024 Numerology for Memoir

According to horoscope-focused refinery29.com, the Egyptians saw 8 as bringing balance and cosmic order, while in tarot it’s a card of magic and inspired action. That website provides the perfect message for this year’s hopeful memoir authors: “Whenever this tarot card shows up in a reading, the message is: ‘You have everything you need to make stuff happen — so, go for it!’”

That same energy comes up in other descriptions of 2024 numerology. Well and Good quotes numerologist Novalee Wilder, who predicts that 2024 will be a year of “radical honesty and transparency.” That sounds like a candid memoir to me!

The same website notes that another numerologist, Sarah Faith Gottesdiener, urges people to confront “the ways in which you’ve been lying to yourself or holding yourself back from living the way you truly want.” She says it’s a time for finding and nurturing your inner spark and following your heart’s true path. To me, that means that 2024 is the year to stop holding back from being the memoir author your heart wants you to be.

That article paraphrases Gottesdiener’s advice: “Another aligned way to uncover your desires and identify your bigger-picture goals is to self-reflect through journaling. Just being able to put those goals on paper might just point you toward the first step you’ll want to take in 2024 to bring them to life.” Instead of your goals, put your whole memoir down on paper!

Angel Number

Over on astrology.com, they talk about “angel numbers.” You guessed it—2024 is an angel number. This website notes: “Number 2024 is a spiritual awakening number, as it symbolizes the beginning of a spiritual journey, developing your inner wisdom, and trusting your intuition.”

Again, is there any better description of the journey of writing a memoir? To add to that, astrology.com also mentions 2024 as “a positive sign for your career and financial prospects.” If you’re hoping to sell your memoir, better get it out in 2024!

If you haven’t yet put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, make this the year you write that first sentence. If you’re well on your way, decide to finish a first draft by the end of the year. If your first draft has been sitting in a drawer, get past your fear or whatever roadblocks are keeping you from polishing the draft, finding an editor, querying publishers or self-publishing. Get your book finished!

If you’re not feeling the numerology for 2024, I’ll offer some final inspiration by sharing what I learned in my numerology research about the last day of the current year. That will be 12/31/23. Dropping the slashes turns it into 123123. Consider that your count to get started. 123… 123… go!

Here’s the listing 1 through 24:

The number 2 is for the moon, which promises conditions perfect for writing and publishing a memoir:
1. Money
2. Work
3. Abundance
4. Emotions

The number 4 indicates:
5. Ideas
6. Opportunities
7. Gains

Add 2+4 to get the number 6, which offers the full experience of reviewing your life’s important points:
8. Love
9. Affection
10. Challenges
11. Growth

Add 2+0+2+4 to get the number 8, which is associated with words you could pair with what your memoir creates in the world:
12. Eternity
13. Balance and order
14. Inspired action and magic

Based on the full number 2024, numerologists give advice that easily applies to goals of memoir:
15. Stop holding yourself back
16. Live your true desires
17. Find your inner spark
18. Reach levels of radical honesty and transparency
19. Write it all down

2024 is an “angel number” that means:
20. The beginning of a spiritual journey
21. Developing your inner wisdom
22. Trusting your intuition
23. Career advancements and financial increases

The last day of 2023 tells you to get started:
24. 12/31/23 = 123 123 go!

Why Do People Write Memoirs?

Person leaving footprints in the sand on a beach

Facebook has several memoir groups, and on one of them a member posted the question, “What is the primary reason for writing your memoir?” Quite a few people responded in the comments.

Memoir as a Family Legacy

Some reflected the thoughts of many of our Write My Memoirs members—to write a memoir, as one commenter put it, simply for “posterity.” Another person hoped her memoir would become a “family heirloom.” She noted, “If I never amass a fortune to bequeath, at least I will be able to share my story.” Similarly, someone said she was writing her memoir “for my kids and grandkids to have a record of me should they someday want to read it.”

Memoir to Honor Someone Close

Some memoirs have the theme of capturing the life of someone who had a significant impact on the memoir author. The memoirist may intend to honor a parent, mourn a child who died young, or maybe relate the story of a great friendship or marriage.

In the comments on the Facebook post, someone wrote about writing her memoir to bring awareness to deaths from Agent Orange. Her husband was a sailor in the US Navy who died from the effects of the chemical. Another said her memoir commemorated the short life of her sister, who died at 19, and someone else said she was documenting all the good advice from her mother.

Memoir to Serve as a Note of Caution

One typical reason people write memoirs is to help readers learn from the author’s mistakes or warn them about dangers the author encountered. A number of responses fell along this theme.

One commenter said she was writing her memoir to help people who have been shunned by their families. Her family shunned her after she left what she calls a religious cult. Another person wanted to caution people about “medical gaslighting” and the medical community not believing you when you describe symptoms. Yet another person had addicts for parents and crafted her memoir to offer ways to break the cycle of addiction.

Memoir to Heal, Share and Reflect

Many lives are infused with humor and interesting anecdotes, and if you’re sharing those stories you might as well compile them into a memoir. One commenter had 30 snippets of stories she’d written over the years, so she went through them and laced them together. Another wanted to relate her quirky tales from being a lesbian southern belle. One said he simply wanted “to tell the world my fascinating story,” while another wanted to write about his “unusual existence.”

One commenter wanted to write her memoir before it was too late. “I feel the need to tell my story for future generations,” she said. “As a child during the Cold War, I was part of an exodus of unaccompanied children from Cuba fleeing Communism….We are elderly now. If we don’t write about it our stories will die with us.”

A couple of commenters mentioned writing as a way to heal; memoirs are well known to help people heal from trauma or work through grief. One commenter said she was motivated “for self-healing and to share life experiences.” Another said sharing her life story was “nothing short of transformation, for myself and others.”

For some people, writing a book is a goal. One commenter said she wrote her memoir “to prove I could do it. I first dreamt about publishing a book when I was a little girl.”

And for people who are natural writers, a memoir is an obvious task. “I write because writers can’t not write,” one commenter remarked. “And I write my story because I believe we all have stories that matter.” At Write My Memoirs, we agree with that!

5 Ways Your Memoir Will Be Unique

Unique memoir standing out from other books on library racks

A lot of memoir authors worry that they have nothing new to add to the nonfiction literary category and will not have a unique memoir. At Write My Memoirs, we feel that concern is unnecessary. We assure you that your memoir will be unique! Here are five reasons.

  1. Your life is unique, so any chronicle of your life, by definition, will be unlike any other. You can think about the person closest to you—maybe a sibling, whose parents are the same as yours and who grew up in the same place as you, under at some points identical circumstances. And yet you know that your life has not mirrored any of your siblings’ lives. You are you—different from everyone else. Your story is yours alone.
  2. No other memoir includes your specific anecdotes. The aspect of your life on which you’re focusing is narrower than your full life, so you’ll be taking a close look at small incidents. Those various stories came together in your life but no other life. So much of life is happenstance. You happened to have met someone. It happened to have rained that day. Some pivotal event happened to have set your journey off on a new direction. It happened to you, but not to other people.
  3. Every relationship is different, and relationships are a big part of most memoirs. Even within your own set of relationships, each one has its own dynamic. As you write your memoir, keep that in mind and don’t minimize it. Think about the way you act around different people and how they’ve each influenced you and impacted your life. Don’t assume the reader has had the same relationship with a parent or a colleague or a friend that you have.
  4. Your surroundings are unique. From the time period to the location, your story is set against a background that will not replicate anyone else’s. You were the one born on your birthday, living in your home somewhere on the map and going through life as it was during that era at that spot.
  5. Your writing voice is unique. This is important! Two people can report on the same event, and the results will not be the same. Writing styles vary, and so do the choices of which facts, players and issues to include. The way you roll out a narrative is all your own. Like a vocal voice, a writer’s voice is special to each person.

So of all the concerns that might trip you up—finding the time to write, facing past traumatic incidents, fearing you’ll hurt people’s feelings with your candor—don’t worry that your memoir won’t be unique. There absolutely will be no other story like it.

Lessons for Athletes Who Want to Write Memoirs—And Vice Versa

Far view of a track meet
This week in July 2023, the National Senior Games are taking place in Pittsburgh, and I’m competing in track and field. If you’re over 50 and enjoy athletic competition in any sport, check out Senior Games. It’s fun. But that’s another topic for another time, or here’s a link to read a piece I wrote about a previous Nationals event. But what you all want to do is write memoirs.

We All Have Our Gifts

In regular life, I’m a writer, editor and memoir coach. I’m good at all three. My writing comes naturally, so that part’s a gift. I learned to edit by going to graduate school in journalism, so that’s my training. When I kind of accidentally became owner of Write My Memoirs, I taught myself little by little how to coach memoir authors, so that expertise comes from trial and error, consulting with colleagues and other types of experience.
In athletic competition, I run, jump and throw. I’m bad at all three. I was never an athlete of any sort. I can swim and I played tennis as a teen, but I was never good enough to compete in any sport. Track and field is way out of my wheelhouse. Despite that, in middle age I started running for exercise—just two miles most days. So when my husband began competing in Senior Games, I got tired of being a spectator and decided I’d enter some of the running races. Eventually I added javelin and two jump events.
The best I can say for myself is that I don’t always come in last. Sometimes I do. In this group of exceptional senior athletes, I am simply not very good. I don’t have a gift the way I do with writing, but I don’t mind. I can train and practice and teach myself.
If you’re feeling that, as a writer, you’re simply not very good, I can relate because of what I do that I feel inadequate about. But you know what we say in Senior Games? Even when you land in last place, you beat all the people sitting at home on the couch. Try thinking in those terms when you write your memoir. You’re doing something a lot of people want to do but never get past page one.
Here are a few ways I can align your desire to write with my desire to compete in track and field.

Lessons from Comparing Athletic Competition to Writing a Memoir

  1. Like my triple jump, your writing is something you can improve. I watched videos and read information to figure out the steps for the triple jump. I knew that it wasn’t a popular event, which is how I came in seventh place in my age category in this year’s Nationals! Okay, that also was last place, but I got a ribbon. I know it seems as if everyone is writing a memoir, but in terms of percentage of the population, you are a rare bird if you take your memoir the whole way to publication. Even if you don’t write the best memoir ever published, you still get a ribbon! You’ll be an author. You’ll have a book to hand out to friends and family. It’s huge.
  2. Just as I don’t enjoy running, you don’t have to enjoy writing in order to write a memoir. I run as part of my general fitness program, not because I attain a “runner’s high” or whatever dedicated runners seem to feel. You can look at your memoir as something you’re doing for yourself—not the part of yourself that wants to spend time doing something enjoyable, but the part of yourself that wants a targeted result. You want to produce your memoir. To realize that goal, you have to sit down and write it, or at least hire someone to take your information and write it for you.
  3. In competition, experts tell us all to just compete against yourself. Go at your own pace. Don’t burn out. So I run as much as I can as long as I can get myself to do it. That comes to two miles at least three times a week. If it rains or something unexpected comes up in my schedule, I wait until the next day. Writing is not that different. You don’t have to finish your memoir within one year or commit to a writing regimen of at least 30 minutes a day or set up an ideal writing environment. You know when you’re slacking, so at that point pick up the pace. Just don’t let it go completely. As with running, you keep putting one foot in front of the next, and sooner or later you get to the finish line.
  4. I’m the only “me” there is. Each of us is unique. There are so many aspects to being a person, and we differ in all of them, from the way our bodies are built to the way we think to the way our lives have progressed. My challenges in competing are different from other athletes’ challenges. Some have it easier, but many have it harder. I’m lucky to be able to run at all. Because you’re unique, your memoir will be special. If your story were already out there, you wouldn’t have to write it. Value the way you approach a project like memoir writing in your own way. Appreciate that your unique life will make an interesting narrative.

Your Memoir is Important

This isn’t a zero-sum game. I can compete alongside athletes much better than I am, with no delusion that I might win, and still be valuable as a participant in Senior Games. And you can offer a memoir that will add to the literature of what it’s like to live a particular life.

Build Buzz About Your Memoir by Publishing Articles and Comments Online

Screen capture of author's online article

First-time memoir authors are likely to have no solid writing credentials, much less an agent or publisher. How do you get writing credentials? Write!

Bylines Validate You as a Writer

Even a handful of online articles with your byline can build credibility for you as a writer as you begin to market your memoir, which you can do before it’s ready for publication. Write about things you know, and research websites that invite people to submit essays. There are lots of advantages to doing this:

  • Typically, your byline will be accompanied by a short bio. Given even just two or three sentences, your bio can easily mention that you’re the author of an upcoming memoir. If you can be more specific with the memoir’s name and the exact date or just month of publication, even better.
  • If you want an agent to represent you, or if you send your memoir manuscript to a publisher, impress them by including links to articles that carry your byline. That shows them that some professional outlet thought your work was worthy of publication.
  • These links look good on your own book website or blog as well. They say: I’m a professionally published writer. You can trust that my memoir is a well-written book.
  • Many articles offer readers the ability to leave comments. Keep an eye on your article, and respond to comments. This establishes a conversation with the very people who are potential buyers of your memoir.
  • You may get a little money for your efforts. But while some online outlets will pay for your material, that shouldn’t be your main consideration.
  • Writers write, and they constantly get better and faster at writing. Now that you’re a memoir author, writing frequently on other projects will help your writing flow so that it’s easier to motivate yourself to sit down and work on your memoir.

What to Write About

Ideally, you’ll find a website to carry your article about something directly related to your memoir. From your memoir’s theme to anything your memoir covers—your work, specific issues in family life, the geography you describe—you can speak as an expert by virtue of the fact that you’re writing a memoir that includes information on that subject. You are an authentic voice in that community. Don’t diminish the right you’ve earned to be an authority and the contributions you can make with a good article.

To just get your name out there, you also can write about something completely unrelated to your memoir. This won’t necessarily reach the target market for your memoir, but it will provide the other benefits of giving you a byline, links to share and a bio paragraph.

Here’s an article I wrote about a hot pop-culture topic that was published on sixtyandme.com. You can see that it’s been generating comments, and it’s even popping up on searches. Am I using my own blog here to help promote it? You bet.

Comment on Other People’s Articles

Another way to establish a familiar name with potential readers is to comment on articles that address your memoir’s theme. Any knowledgeable, informative comment you post will add to the discussion and set you up as a valuable voice on that topic.

On your comments, you may be able to sneak in a plug for your memoir, especially if you say something vague such as: “I’m writing a memoir about my experience with this same type of childhood.” Or you may be able to direct people to your book’s website.

How This is Different from Social Media

It’s helpful to build an online presence through Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or whatever social media combination appeals to you. Articles are different, though, because they represent acceptance and a little bit of vetting by someone out there in the field. Anyone can tweet, but not everyone can submit an article and get it accepted for publication.

In addition, articles carry URLs that may stay there for years as you continue to send links to anyone interested in your writing. Social media is more about “follow me” and what’s coming next than what’s already out there. You don’t have to keep up with an article the way you do with a social account.

Good luck as you navigate all of this! Let us know if Write My Memoirs can help you with editing or self-publishing.

Have 4 to 12 Wednesdays Free? Take an Online Memoir Writing Course!

Sign saying "This is the sign you've been looking for"

The very beginning of your memoir journey can be the most daunting phase. Once you get going, momentum can carry you through. As you get comfortable and confident with writing, you’ll make steady progress on your memoir.

How do you start?

A friend of Write My Memoirs specializes in coaching new writers through the first steps. She’s offering a 3-part online workshop beginning January 18, 2023, with each part made up of four weekly sessions. You can take all three segments or just one or two.

“I help non-writers focus on getting their story down and generating pages,” our friend and colleague Barbara of Writing Life Stories says. “It’s all about leaving your stories as a legacy to your family and friends! Not about learning to be a writer! Or publishing!”

In her coaching, Barbara motivates, teaches and inspires using a process proven to be effective for thousands of people over more than 30 years. While this process results in a full memoir for the participants, it has benefits that go even beyond that.

“Research shows that you will gain increased resilience and self-confidence, more compassion for others and a greater appreciation for life using this method,” Barbara says.

When you finish the workshop and complete your first draft, come back to Write My Memoirs for editing/polishing and publishing! We will finish the project so that you have a wonderful book to distribute to friends and family in 2023. It’s still only January. This is the year you’ll do it!

“You may wish you knew more about your father or grandmother who passed away, but it’s too late,” Barbara says. “Your family loses by not knowing YOUR story. Isn’t it time to write it?”

 

 

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.

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!

May Is Creative Beginnings Month—Perfect Time to Start or Restart Your Memoir!

Creativity Month man with paints and pens

By May, many of our New Year’s resolutions have long gone stagnant. With next New Year’s a long way off, I can suggest a different calendar trigger to get back to your memoir or other writing project. Guess what? May is Creative Beginnings Month!

Facts About Creative People

Are you creative? At Write My Memoirs, we believe everyone is creative. You’re creative if you develop computer code. You’re creative if you’re raising children. You’re creative if you decorate a room, cook a dinner, plant a garden or figure out why your car won’t start. Check out these factoids about creative people and creativity, which we’ve adapted from a National Today list:

  • Take a shower! Up to 72% of people have creative insights while they’re in the shower.
  • Spend some alone time. Creativity thrives in solitude. While collaboration is fun and group work can help, it is when you’re alone that you engage in constructive internal reflection, which boosts creativity.
  • Let yourself daydream! Studies have long shown that daydreaming provides a sort of mental incubation period for more creative thinking to come.
  • Imagination isn’t creativity. You might think of imagination and creativity as synonyms, but “imagination” refers to thinking about something that doesn’t exist, while “creativity” is more about making an idea a reality.
  • Don’t worry about messiness. Some research indicates that messy or cluttered spaces can help the brain focus on the bigger picture and boost creativity. A lot of creative people have trouble keeping their spaces tidy.

History of the “Holiday”

It may be a celebration without a lot of celebrating, but spring brings that fresh beginning anyway, so it’s great timing. Here’s what National Today says about Creative Beginnings Month:

“There are varying opinions on the origins of creativity. Some claim it began back in the days when humans made tools for hunting, while others say it started with Australian Aborigines and the invention of the boomerang. Many even state that creativity can be traced back thousands of years ago to the stone age when people carved inscriptions and drawings on the walls of caves. Another report claims that creativity and the art of creation started with the people of Egypt and Mexico. It is also said that ancient creativity comes from Asian countries like India, Iran, Cambodia, etc.”

The website further notes that this month is celebrated by several countries across the globe. “We celebrate Creative Beginnings Month so that people can awaken their hidden creative skills,” it continues. “Each person uses creativity differently and in their own way. There are a plethora of options for how you can celebrate the month of creative beginnings! This is the perfect time to get over that creative block you’ve been facing, resume a project that you’ve been putting off, or simply start a project you promised yourself you would. It can be simple, complex, fun, serious, or anything.”

Creative Beginnings of Writing Your Memoir

Coming to WriteMyMemoirs.com is a great first step for getting your memoir on track! We have suggestions to inspire your creative flow, and we’re happy to help with the writing as you proceed, the editing along the way, and the self-publishing when you’ve finished.

So how do you start? Write one sentence. Then write another. Before you know it, you have a paragraph. Write another paragraph. Before you know it, you have a chapter. Write another chapter. Before you know it, you have a memoir. It’s just like any other journey: one step at a time.

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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!