A common question authors have about memoir is whether they’re writing a true memoir or an autobiography. At Write My Memoirs, we don’t make much of a distinction. If you’re writing about your life, you’re writing about your life. Call it a memoir, autobiography, life history—we don’t think it matters much.
But authors continue to want to know how to label their book, so here’s a little quiz for you to take to reveal whether, according to conventional thinking, you’re writing a memoir or an autobiography.
Answer TRUE or FALSE:
- My story begins with my birth and continues to present day.
- My primary goal in writing my book is to provide information for my children and grandchildren to “know where they come from.”
- I would like generations in the future to have a reliable record of what life was like growing up when and where I grew up, as well as what adulthood was like during my lifetime.
- Even though my life hasn’t been that unusual, I want to get all the facts down.
- I want to tell all about my life in my own voice.
- The hurdles I overcame in my life holds lessons for other people.
- Even though I am not yet 50 years old, I want to write my book now.
- I will devote much of my book to one part of my life that was very unusual.
- Something happened to me that I feel compelled to write about.
- Everyone asks me about one episode in my life, so I decided to write about that.
As you may have figured out, this list of 10 questions starts heavy on autobiography and progresses incrementally to memoir.
Give yourself 1 point for each time you answered TRUE to questions 1 through 4.
Give yourself 2 points for each time you answered TRUE to questions 5 and 6.
Give yourself 3 points for each time you answered TRUE to questions 7 through 10.
1-8: Your book is an autobiography.
9-16: Your book is more of a memoir.
17-20: Your book may not have enough of a theme. Rethink whether you want to focus on one part of your life or write a comprehensive book that gives relatively equal treatment to all parts of your life.