In our last Write My Memoirs blog post, we introduced an actual syllabus from a university’s memoir-writing course. The first assignment was to keep a journal. After you’ve been writing one for a while, you can tackle the course’s next assignment: write three “autobiographical essays” based on memories you’ve documented in your journal.
The syllabus describes these essays as each capturing “a turning point, a memorable event [or] a moment that exemplifies your life in its totality.” The suggested length of each essay is a minimum of four to five pages but no maximum—write as much as you need in order to provide a full description. “Include vivid details that draw the reader into your experience,” the syllabus instructs, adding that you should “provide a sense of what the experience meant to you (although you should not write ‘this is what I learned’ conclusions).”
At Write My Memoirs, we advise doing this very same thing—although instead of limiting yourself to three essays, we recommend writing up as many of your experiences as you need to fill out your life story. You can build an entire memoir upon a series of episodes; in fact, that’s really what a memoir is. It’s an account of moments in your life, how you reacted and what happened as a result. So, instead of considering these as essays, you can regard them each as a chapter of your final memoir. There’s still more to come next time!