Looking for Tips on Writing Memoirs?
by Hugh Wilson
Volunteer Staff at Creative Writing Institute
Writing memoirs is easy. Don’t make something easy into something hard. Write for the sake of posterity. Wouldn’t you love to read what your great, great grandmother wrote about her everyday life in the 1800s? Well… IF she had written it. Publication is not the only measure of success. Sure, it means an editor thinks thousands will enjoy your writing and a good byline always massages the eyeballs, but writing is a transient thing.
Think about future generations and how they would love to read about your life in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Yes, we’re talking about writing memoirs.
“But I haven’t done anything memorable,” you protest. “My life is humdrum. Who’d be interested in me?”
What seems commonplace to you can be fascinating to someone else, especially in a hundred years’ time. Think about the kind of details you’d like to know about that great, great grandmother. What type of clothes did she wear? What did she eat for breakfast? What did she do in the evenings? How did she meet her husband? Did all of her children live to adulthood?
Just as today’s teens can’t imagine a world without television, today’s ordinary life will seem extraordinary in tomorrow’s world. By the time someone read’s your heart’s deepest secrets, you will likely be gone anyway.
You don’t have to reminisce in chronological order. Write memories down as they come to you and slot them into the proper period. You can write them by hand and put them in a three-ring binder or type them into a computer and rearrange the order, but no matter how you do it, DO keep your memoirs in a safe place. Carbonite.com is a good place to back your files up for just $59 a year. Dropbox has a free program, and there are other such free places. Just Google “free storage.” Keep your work backed up in more than one location. Store it on an external hard drive or flash drive and keep it in a lock box. Material kept on CD’s will deteriorate over time.
Build a picture of your life for your descendants to read. Leave a part of yourself behind. Start writing memoirs today.
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