Memoirs Are Hot Again

After the fiasco of A Million Little Pieces, memoir writing lost popularity. But all that’s changed and memoirs are hot again.

Last month I did a class on writing memoir at a local college and student ages ranged from the thirties to the seventies.  I even had a married couple attend.

It’s clear that people want to write their memoirs, but the reasons for writing them are varied. Some want to leave a legacy for their families, some want to share their story so others can learn from it, and some want to help others write. All are good reasons for writing memoir.

Here are some tips to use when writing about your life.

  • When you tell your story, make you the main character–not your dominating parent or your doting grandparent or your evil relative.
  • Be sure to put some feeling in your memoir. You’re not writing a diary that chronciles facts. You’re writing about your life and you have feelings (good and not so good) that make you real to your reader.
  • Avoid squandering your authorship. By that, I mean give yourself permission as the author to write your experiences with as much importance as you give other people’s experiences/accomplishments.
  • Remember to include the commonalities in life you share with your reader. That could be a holiday ritual, a fear you overcame, a joy you felt, etc.
  • Create contrast in your story. When you take the ordinary and discover the extraordinary about it, you’ve got a winner. One doesn’t have to look any further than the Susan Boyle video to see that.
  • Have a reason for everything you include in your memoir. No one wants to read your entire life story–if you start with your birth and move to the current time, you’re writing your biography, not your memoir.
  • Include little things that impacted you. For example, if your father answered the phone every time you called home and rather than talk with you, he turned the phone over to your mother, that could have an impact on you, even if it seems like a little thing.

Only you can write your memoir. Now you have some tips to help you, so get going because there’s no time like now–tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Happy writing!

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4 Responses to “Memoirs Are Hot Again”


  1. 1 Biff Barnes April 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I am an editor who works with a lot of people writing memoirs. One of the things that I have found really helps you to get started is to think seriously about the audience for whom you intend the memoir. It makes you really focus on why you are writing the book. What you would say to your close friends might differ considerably from what you might say to adult family members and still more from the way you would tell your stories to your 12 year old niece. You would naturally adjust the type of story, level of detail and the degree of explanation to fit the audience. Even if your aim is the N.Y. Times Bestseller List and a guest spot on Oprah, you need to think about the specific types of people you expect to read your book. Once you have defined the audience, the answers to a lot of questions about what to include and how to write your memoir will begin to fall into place.

    • 2 expertbookpublishing April 12, 2010 at 7:20 am

      You are spot on to tell your clients to think about the audience, then write with that audience in mind. In my writing classes, I’ve suggested students search periodicals (including advertisements) for people representative of their reader, then cut those images out and post them in their writing area to remind them of who their audience is. Thank you for your insightful advice.

  2. 3 advice March 14, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Very good blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little
    lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform
    like WordPress or go for a paid option?There are so many choices
    out there that I’m totally confused .. Any recommendations?

    Thank you!

  3. 4 Generateur De Jeux Steam Gratuit 2014 July 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I coսld nott resist commenting. Veryy well written!


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