Listen to Yourself, Not the Experts’ Advice

Reviewing some of the advice on Google about how to write a memoir, I’m struck by how much of it is exactly opposite to the advice we offer to Write My Memoirs members. If you’re trying to sell your memoir and hoping for a six-figure movie deal based on your life, then a lot of the conventional wisdom holds. You should tell compelling anecdotes, grab the reader right from the beginning with a great first line and show how much personal growth you’ve experienced. But if you’re doing what we do here—writing for your friends and family—all of that advice goes out the window. And there’s a tremendous freedom in knowing that you can just write however you want to write.

When the intended readers already love you, the blank screen isn’t so intimidating. You don’t have to be afraid to start that first sentence. You don’t have to worry that your writing isn’t good enough or you’ll do something “wrong.” Your account of your life, however you choose to explain it, will be cherished by the readers, because they know you personally. You really can’t go wrong.

So disregard any online “help” telling you that a chronological life story isn’t intriguing enough. Forget about crafting “setups” for plot lines that build until they reach a resolution, especially a “shocking” resolution. Don’t fret over whether your work will be considered a “memoir” or an “autobiography.” Who cares? When you hand out your book at church, the VFW hall, your family reunion or your community book fair, those people will appreciate every word. You’re a legend in their minds, and now they’ll have all of the details of how you turned out that way.