When you sit down to start writing your memoir, that blank page sure does stare back harshly. Getting out that first paragraph—even that first sentence—trips up people to the point that some never return to the task. Don’t let that happen to you!
As a guest blogger on The Creative Penn, Eric Olsen, co-author of We Wanted To Be Writers, contributed his thoughts on how to get started writing a novel. He tells writers not to worry about writing your book from Page 1 right through to the end. You can start anywhere. In a way, your memoir is a type of nonfiction novel, and here at WriteMyMemoirs we frequently mention the same thing—just write something, even one anecdote, and then at least you’ve gotten started.
Olsen lists three ways of organizing your thoughts, and we’ll tweak them here to apply to a memoir:
- Write scenes. Think of your life as a series of scenes, and start with the most important or, perhaps, the most vivid scenes from your life.
- Write characters. Devote a chapter to your parents, siblings, spouse(s) and special friends. Explore what makes the person tick and how each one impacted your life.
- Write dialogue. Like a novel, a memoir could be more interesting with some dialogue rather than all straight description. Instead of describing what happened in an interpersonal situation, let your “characters” speak for themselves. Try it!
You can always go back and piece together your work in whatever order you want—chronological or otherwise. Start writing!