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It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer. Our 21 in-depth best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will take you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir. 

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography! Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Don’t skip this post: it will orient you from the start!

(more…)

An important step to sell your memoir is to identify your intended audience early in the process. Your buying audience will affect what you include in your memoir and the manner in which you write it. You will likely include different material in your memoir depending on who you believe will purchase it.

(more…)

Without other people, our lives and our memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are question we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest. (more…)

The old adage “Show, don’t tell!” is as true as ever. It is one technique that will always improve your writing. I admit that there is some great writing that makes a precedent for “tell,” but as a rule, “show” is more effective.

1. Your pen is your movie camera.

In a film, a director ( that’s you!) doesn’t have an actor go on screen to tell the audience that someone is angry. Instead, he shows the character in a scene where anger is in action. (more…)

Many memoir writers secretly, or not so secretly, want to help other people to write their memoirs. Sometimes they do this informally with a friend or two, and at other times, they get a bit more organized and offer a class at a library or other institution. One thing is certain, launching your memoir teaching will take some attention.

I have taught workshops for decades and can attest to the deep satisfaction I have derived from working with writers. I have formed friendships that have lasted these many years.

If you would like to offer a memoir class here are a few tips to do so more successfully. They are garnered from sound business practices, but don’t worry as they are easy for anyone to implement.

(I have written about the curriculum elsewhere.)

1. Reconnect with people who told you they want to be in a workshop within a few days of having first spoken to them.

(more…)

Five easy, proven tips for adding feelings to a memoir and creating vivid characters

As a memoirist, do you accept that your family, your friends and your acquaintances are characters in your story? This is a first step in creating vivid characters.

“But, I’m writing about my mother, not about a character,” you say.

Yes, you are writing about your mother and she is a character in your story. If you can’t incorporate that notion into your approach to writing, your memoir will not soar and you wil not create vivid characters—not of your mother or of anyone else.

Without the interactions of and with other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding.

We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are questions we want answered.

(more…)

You’ve written your memoir and it has finally been readied for publication. Finally comes the day when you hold your book in hand!

Now what?

A rousing book launch is what’s next.

Business Boy to Business Man by Robert Verreault took several years to write. Mr. Verreault, a successful businessman, decided to give himself the gift of a memoir. Unfortunately, he died before the book was published but his family decided to go ahead and launch the book in style.

Business Boy to Business Man is a 375-page memoir that was begun four years earlier and then was unfortunately interrupted when its author died leaving Business Boy to Business Man  about 90% written. The author’s daughter collaborated with me to finish the manuscript. Had Robert Verreault lived, the book would have been some 50-100 pages longer, but his daughter and I decided we could not continue to write text and brought the story to a close at an appropriate point. She and I  worked together for about two years. So…

Book launch tips for a great party!

The book launch party was a lovely experience—one that brought to those of us who were involved in creating the book a strong sense of (forgive the overused term!) closure. Writing a memoir is a long haul and it is refreshing to have an event as one might a wedding or a funeral to gather friends and family and fans together to acknowledge that an end and a beginning are occurring.

Of course, a book launch has an added function of selling books. In this case the family was not as much concerned with selling per se as with doing an event to document they were in the publishing business. This would help them be able to deduct editing and publishing expenses from the assets of the estate.

1. Choose a venue appropriately

The right venue is an important book launch tip.

A local museum, Museum LA, (for Lewiston-Auburn, Maine) which specializes in the work history of the area was delighted to be asked. Business Boy to Business Man is the story of a local man who began a machine shop in 1946. The company grew to employ 175 people in its heyday. So a museum devoted to the work life of the community seemed the right venue for Business Boy to Business Man.

The museum director, Rachel Desgroseilliers, was pleased to be asked to sponsor the event.

This book and launching it into the world is right at the center of our mission statement. We want it. Don’t go looking anywhere else to host your book launch.

—Rachel Desgroseilliers

book launch tips

Museum LA director greeting guests

In anticipation of attracting an audience to the launch, we had done a fair amount of publicity. (Don’t overlook this book launch tip.) Robert Verreault’s widow, Cécile, had called many people who she thought would want to come. We had a feature in LA Magazine, a local magazine. A newspaper ran our press release in an arts-and-culture section. We had numerous calendar of events listings. Posters, designed by Museum LA, were all over town.

2. Get set for the book launch rush.

As the 1 o’clock start time approached we waited for our crowd to come—and come they did. About 100 people showed up! It was wonderful. There was a table of books from which we were relieved to see the books disappearing. The family and I (as ghostwriter) were asked to autograph the book. There was also a refreshment table—from which the goods also disappeared.

3. Plan the presentation.

This book launch tip is also crucial: plan the presentation.

The program was divided in four readings, each followed by a brief discussion with the audience. A Verreault granddaughter had created a power point presentation which was showing during the entire program.

In a further article, I will write about aspects of organizing a book launch. Expect great book launch tips.  Meanwhile…

Leave a comment below about your own book launches.

Editor’s Note: The Personal Memoir: Keep the “Me” in your MEmoir was originally published on Bookbaby Blog and is used with the permission of the author. This piece was originally published on this blog in 20017. Comments are still being accepted.

Without the “me” in your memoir – the fragile and imperfect person who lived the events in your story – you leave out the human element your readers long to connect with.

You’ve retired. Now, at last, you have the time to work on that book you’ve been wanting to write all your life. Your friends and family are always telling you to write a book: you have so many great stories to share. You’re a natural raconteur. Perhaps they are right. This is your chance. Yes, you’ll write the personal memoir you’ve dreamed of.

Is what you want to write actually a memoir?

Do you really know what a memoir is? It’s not a collection of your favorite memories, nor is it a biography or autobiography. Both of those genres cover a lifetime, zero to wherever you are now. A true memoir, on the other hand, covers a specific period of time: five, ten, or twenty years in your life. It’s also not a collection of stories or memories. Rather, it presents a single situation, where a person faces a series of crises. These ultimately lead to an epiphany and result in a life-changing decision. In fact, if it’s written well, the personal memoir reads like fiction, with one big difference: the events really happened to real people.

According to Jerry Waxler, author of The Memoir Revolution, the best memoirs are those that give us ”a window into human nature through the lens of story.”

Stories that enlighten us about how we think, or why we do what we do, make for interesting reading. Memoirs that explore psychological development, coming of age, family relationships and values – along with all the grief and hardship of just trying to survive – make for compelling reading. When readers feel personal memoirand identify with the narrator’s pain and desperation to find a solution to a problem, they pull for the narrator as they read. They keep turning pages hoping for a happy ending. And few things satisfy more than closing a book, knowing that in the end, the narrator came out on top.

The word “memoir” starts with ME

Writing a personal memoir like that IS possible, but you must put the ME into your MEmoir. What does that mean? Well, just look at the word. If there’s no ME in the memoir – no down-to-earth, ordinary human being who is vulnerable, has weaknesses, thinks things that make you blush, wants
to do things she’s been taught not to, says the wrong thing at the wrong time – then your memoir will fail to bring your story to life. This is not the same as crying, carrying on, and railing at everyone who has done you wrong. Your readers won’t have patience for that. It’s about helping readers see themselves and their own frailties and strengths through you.

Your personal memoir is a selfie in words.

Readers want to read about the real you, warts and all. They want to sense that you’re vulnerable; you hurt; you make mistakes but you pick yourself up and try again, just like they do. Think about it this way: Your memoir is a selfie in words. Write that “selfie” and your memoir will speak to a much larger audience than your immediate family and friends. If you have a memoir like that to share, one of overcoming adversity, and can write it without holding readers at arm’s length, then that’s the memoir you should write.

But, you might say, “I’m not famous. I’m not a celebrity. Who will want to read my memoir?”

Some of the best and most important memoirs are written by people just like you. Why? Well, while clinical and scientific information about everything is available at the touch of a button – like diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, dementia – a memoir writer can tell us how it feels to have those diseases or care for someone who does. The web provides a wealth of information on transgenderism, but who can speak to the experience of changing from a man into a woman, or vice versa, and dealing with the criticism and judgements and life changes that followed better than someone who lived it? And while we can learn a great deal about the difficulties of living in other countries and cultures through the net, nothing compares to hearing about what it’s like to live in a country from someone who has breathed its air and eaten its food, who has lived with, loved, and hated its inhabitants.

A personal memoir makes a difference!

There are so many incredibly sensitive, often hidden or denied subjects about which it takes great courage to write. But clinical or even journalistic reports cannot move us, provide the depth of connection, or mean as much to us as a first-hand account by someone who’s lived through these true-life situations and isn’t afraid to include the fragile and imperfect “me” into their memoir.

Provide readers who want help beyond the facts and figures with a story that shows them they are not alone, and you will write a personal memoir that matters.

What an important and worthwhile service memoirists can provide!

Denis Ledoux: I had the pleasure of working with Susan Yerburgh for several years as she articulated her message in Shadows & Light: A Journey of Healing and Empowerment and used it to continue her own healing journey. Because of the significance of her writing and life experience, I am delighted she agreed to do the following interview (conducted in an email.)

Denis: Can you tell our readers—your fellow writers—what your book is about and why you were impelled to write it? What was driving you to spend the time, energy and money to get this book out into the world?

Susan: Shadows & Light: A Journey of Healing and Empowerment is about what had happened to me in the past and about my subsequent healing journey, the search for my identity which had been compromised by my life experience.

I underwent electroshock treatments in my early twenties and, a few years later, I realized some long-term memories had been erased. This loss contributed to problems in working through my identity. After years of somewhat unsuccessful traditional therapy, I turned to alternative healing and spiritual counseling.  Fortunately, the afterlife and spirit guides came in to help me. Finally, I got the answers I needed and, after two divorces, I was able to create a loving relationship that has endured.

Writing a book was something I needed to do. I wanted to break my family code of silence, complete my healing process, and tell people what had happened to me. Also, I wanted to leave a legacy for my grandchildren and future generations. My perseverance helped bring it to fruition.

A Memoir of Healing and Empowerment
Available at Amazon

Susan: About four years before publication, I had the idea of a memoir and started writing down a few stories when I felt like it.  After six months, I realized I needed help if I was ever going to write an actual book. At that time, I approached you and you started to coach me. I spent about three years actively writing.  The last six months was spent more on rewriting and editing.  I would not write when I went on a vacation because I felt I needed the break, but I would come back with a fresh outlook to resume writing. There was no quitting!

Denis: You must have had periods of time in which you were discouraged or at least less enthusiastic. Can you tell us about how you kept yourself going? What worked for you?

Susan: Since I am retired, I had plenty of time to write. I kept to a strict schedule writing for at least two hours every afternoon, five days a week. I gave myself weekends off but there were times that I did write on weekends.  I looked at it as a job that I had to keep doing.  I don’t think I could have done it without a writing coach.

Denis: Tell us what the theme of your book was. How did you come upon this theme? Do you feel you were successful in getting your theme across to the reader? Is there anything in particular you would say was the most difficult thing to succeed at in this book? Was it scheduling, research, plotting, point of view, believing in yourself, or what else?

Susan: What was the most difficult was the actual writing and remembering things from the past. Like all therapy, my journey of healing involved pain. Unfortunately, some of the past could not be researched or there were no living relatives who knew the answers I was looking for.

Denis: Was there a success trait you have discerned for the process of writing? That is, are there best practices you would recommend to your fellow writers that would facilitate completing her/his memoir?

Susan: I would say that people should start with writing the stories that they most want to write about. Those are the stories they remember most vividly and so these stories may be the easiest to get a memoir going.

Then I would say to stick to a schedule. Writing success is realized bit by bit, day by day. Without discipline, your memoir will not go any place.

Lastly, I would strongly advise writers to get help—coaching, editing, even ghostwriting—when they need it.

Denis: What makes for a successful memoir? Do you feel your memoir was a success?

Susan: When I first met you, I remembered you told me that a memoir was a hero’s journey. At the time I had no idea what he meant but now I do. I feel like my memoir is a success because when reading it, one can see my journey of healing: the transformation from the depressed, downtrodden young adult to the wiser, empowered older woman I am today.

Denis: How do you recommend people deal with sensitive material that relatives might take offense at? Your journey of healing did find fault after all.

Susan: Prepare them ahead of time. I knew my sister would have a problem with the way I portrayed our parents. Early on, I told her I was starting to write some stories for my family. Then I told her I thought I would turn it into a book. Before publication, I talked to her more about the content:  how different our perceptions of growing up in the same family were and that she might not agree. Despite the preparation, she was angry at me. I still think it is a good idea to do the long-term preparation I did rather than “drop the bomb” at the last minute.

Denis: Did you envision yourself as a writer before you began this book? What is your identity as a writer now?

Susan: I never envisioned myself as a writer before writing the book. In fact, I never liked to write and struggled with expressive writing in school. Now having published a book, I can consider myself a writer but I still don’t feel like a genuine one.

Denis: Will you write another memoir?

Susan: No. I accomplished what I wanted to with this memoir and I do not feel the need to write more. My journey of healing has been completed.

Denis: Was selling copies important to you? If that was part of the memoir writer’s experience for you, what sort of outreach have you done to pursue sales: did you speak to groups, do guest blogging, do interviews, etc.?

Susan: Selling a lot of copies was never important to me. I was planning to give a talk at the local library and have a house party but then everything changed with Covid-19. Now that I have had plenty of time to think and have read up on marketing books, I might have done things differently. My memoir. as it turned out, is what I need to write. It is fine for my family, people who know me, and others interested in my story but is not written to sell many copies. At the time, I just wanted to get it published before Christmas 2019 to give as gifts. In hindsight, I wish I had spent more time thinking about launching and marketing the book.

Not telling the truth in a memoir is a great way to block your writing

Many writers say they suffer from writer’s block, yet few understand that they are unable to write easily because they are is not telling the truth in a memoir. Good memoir writing depends on telling the truth.

There are a number of reasons that create difficulty in writing. I don’t want to overuse the term writer’s block because I don’t believe much in it and have seen that the famous writer’s block has been made to answer to too many problems.

1. Dealing with uncomfortable material by not telling the truth in a memoir

(more…)

21 best memoir-writing tips

How to write a memoir: our 21 Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you writing—quickly and well.

It’s later than you think. Don’t put off writing your memoir any longer. Our 21 in-depth best memoir-writing tips below will help you to start memoir writing today. 

You’ll find these guides will take you through the process of how to write a memoir—an interesting and meaningful memoir. 

One day soon, you will have written your book.

The Memoir Network’s 21 Top Best Memoir-Writing Tips to get you to memoir success.

1. What is a memoir? Hint: it’s not an autobiography! Is the difference important to the memoir writer? Somewhat! Don’t skip this post: it will orient you from the start!

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

sell your memoir

Sell Your Memoir to Your Intended Audience: 4 Tips

An important step to sell your memoir is to identify your intended audience early in the process. Your buying audience will affect what you include in your memoir and the manner in which you write it. You will likely include different material in your memoir depending on who you believe will purchase it.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

writing a first draft

5 Better Ways to Describe The People in Your Memoir 

Without other people, our lives and our memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding. We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are question we want answered. To write a strong story, capitalize on this interest. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

Show, don't tell about your characters

Show Don’t Tell, or Don’t Describe Your Characters–Show Them!

The old adage “Show, don’t tell!” is as true as ever. It is one technique that will always improve your writing. I admit that there is some great writing that makes a precedent for “tell,” but as a rule, “show” is more effective.

1. Your pen is your movie camera.

In a film, a director ( that’s you!) doesn’t have an actor go on screen to tell the audience that someone is angry. Instead, he shows the character in a scene where anger is in action. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

launching memoir teaching

Launching Your Memoir Teaching – 6 Steps To More Success

Many memoir writers secretly, or not so secretly, want to help other people to write their memoirs. Sometimes they do this informally with a friend or two, and at other times, they get a bit more organized and offer a class at a library or other institution. One thing is certain, launching your memoir teaching will take some attention.

I have taught workshops for decades and can attest to the deep satisfaction I have derived from working with writers. I have formed friendships that have lasted these many years.

If you would like to offer a memoir class here are a few tips to do so more successfully. They are garnered from sound business practices, but don’t worry as they are easy for anyone to implement.

(I have written about the curriculum elsewhere.)

1. Reconnect with people who told you they want to be in a workshop within a few days of having first spoken to them.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

create vivid characters

What everyone ought to do to create vivid characters

Five easy, proven tips for adding feelings to a memoir and creating vivid characters

As a memoirist, do you accept that your family, your friends and your acquaintances are characters in your story? This is a first step in creating vivid characters.

“But, I’m writing about my mother, not about a character,” you say.

Yes, you are writing about your mother and she is a character in your story. If you can’t incorporate that notion into your approach to writing, your memoir will not soar and you wil not create vivid characters—not of your mother or of anyone else.

Without the interactions of and with other people, our lives and memoirs risk becoming dull. Although ideas are pivotal for many individuals, relationships are even more commanding.

We are intrigued with who other people are and how they function. “Who’s that? What are they doing? Where did they come from?” These are questions we want answered.

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?

Folks gather for the book launch party

Book Launch Tips: Business Boy to Business Man, by Robert Verreault

The book launch party was a lovely experience—one that brought to those of us who were involved in creating the book a strong sense of (forgive the overused term!) closure. Writing a memoir is a long haul and it is refreshing to have an event as one might a wedding or a funeral to gather […]

bolandviga3

The Personal Memoir: Keep the “Me” in your MEmoir

Editor’s Note: The Personal Memoir: Keep the “Me” in your MEmoir was originally published on Bookbaby Blog and is used with the permission of the author. This piece was originally published on this blog in 20017. Comments are still being accepted. Without the “me” in your memoir – the fragile and imperfect person who lived the […]

She wrote her healing memoir.

A Journey of Healing via Memoir Writing With Susan Yerburgh

Denis Ledoux: I had the pleasure of working with Susan Yerburgh for several years as she articulated her message in Shadows & Light: A Journey of Healing and Empowerment and used it to continue her own healing journey. Because of the significance of her writing and life experience, I am delighted she agreed to do […]

not telling the truth in a memoir

Not Telling the Truth in a Memoir Can Stop Your Writing

Not telling the truth in a memoir is a great way to block your writing

Many writers say they suffer from writer’s block, yet few understand that they are unable to write easily because they are is not telling the truth in a memoir. Good memoir writing depends on telling the truth.

There are a number of reasons that create difficulty in writing. I don’t want to overuse the term writer’s block because I don’t believe much in it and have seen that the famous writer’s block has been made to answer to too many problems.

1. Dealing with uncomfortable material by not telling the truth in a memoir

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

We'd love to have you access this content. It's in our members-only area, but you're in luck: becoming a member is easy and it's free.

Already a Member?

Not a Member Yet?