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For many new writers, the excitement of conceiving a memoir—you are excited by the thought of how good this memoir is going to be—is followed by the challenge of actually getting started with the writing.

A let down sets in. You’ve never written a memoir before. Where do you start writing a memoir and how do you keep going?

In this section, we offer you some conceptual and hands-on suggestions for you to start writing a memoir well so that you keep writing to the end.

Many people just like you have succeeded at what you propose to do. You, too, can succeed at getting started writing an interesting and meaningful memoir.

begin a memoir

How to Begin a Memoir

Many writers agonize about just where to start a life story, where to begin a memoir. There are, of course, many places where a story can be launched.

1. The place in the story at which you begin a memoir writing manuscript is almost never the place at which readers will begin to read your story in its book form.

A writer begins someplace because beginning someplace is the way it is done. It is only much later that the writer will know where to place this initial piece of writing — at the beginning or elsewhere in the memoir.

2. The first paragraphs in a story may be only a warm up and not worth preserving.

The real beginning of your story can sometimes occur in a later paragraph. Move the paragraph that ought to serve as your lead to the beginning of your story and consign your warm-up paragraphs where they belong — in the wastebasket! You’ll be glad you didn’t hide your true lead under unnecessary false starts.

3. Once you know the crisis point of your story, the place where the action is at its most intense, where a turn around has to occur, you then know what in your memoir has to be built up to.

Sometimes people know this crisis before they begin to write; sometimes they have to write a while before they know what it is. Either way, knowing the crisis will be essential. Choose scenes that lead up to the crisis. The first of these scenes is perhaps your beginning.

4. To begin a memoir, choose a moment that is the zenith or the nadir of your story for the opening chapter.

The last sentence in the introductory chapter is something like: “How did I get to this point — zenith or nadir?” Chapter Two and the rest of the book then answer this question.

In conclusion

Good luck writing as you begin your memoir. Let me know what your experience has been.

If you are looking for printed material to add to your library, visit our bookstore or Smashwords.

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Begin Writing Your Memoir

Where Do You Begin Writing Your Memoir?

Is there a best place to start writing your memoir? It’s a quandary: where do you start writing your memoir? Many people may say: from the beginning. But, I don’t think that is the best place to start composing. The answer is actually quite simple.

why we write stories

Why we write stories that fascinate us

Why we write stories that fascinate us

In the following YouTube video to which I will send you shortly, I write about why stories fascinate us all our lives. As children, we love to listen to bedtime stories. As we grow older, we tell our own stories about what happened at school or at our after-school job. As adults, we often speak in stories and consume stories in the form of novels, movies, TV dramas, and conversations at the grocery store as we wait in line. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir writing program

Six Reasons to Join a Long Distance Memoir Writing Program

Many of the biggest challenges facing memoir writers can be alleviated by joining a distance-learning writing program.

Your participation will convince you that you can succeed.

Memoir writers—as all writers—work in isolation. There are many times when a memoir writer would like to have a contact with a system that could help her/him to resolve a writing issue—whether it’s  a question of grammar, style, or structure.

If you were not a plumber, would you do the plumbing to your house without first learning as much as you could about plumbing?

Of course, you would want to inform yourself.

You might peruse YouTube, buy some how-to books on plumbing, give a call to a person who is a plumber to ask your questions.

Here’s how you as a new writer can follow the same process to write your first memoir draft. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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fast start writing

9 Tips for a Fast Start Writing Your Memoir  

Ever wish you had the secret of generating a fast way to fast start writing your memoir—or most any other book?

A proven way to start writing is to follow a set of steps that will help you get into the writing habit. When I wrote and published A Sugary Frosting / A Memoir Of A Girlhood Spent in a Parsonage, I appreciated the efficiency and effectiveness of my writing process all the more. A Sugary Frosting is the story of the first 20 years of my deceased wife’s life. She had written a number of her stories but died before completing a memoir. When I took up the task, I followed what I consider to be “best practices” of memoir writing.

Below I offer them to you to help you get a fast start and to write more prolifically—and even bring it to a finish in the form of a published memoir.

Here are my nine “best practices” for memoir writing. They are tried and true and bear implementing today.

1. Set up a regular writing time. This will get you a fast start writing your memoir.

How long you write is perhaps not as important as how frequently you do so. Once you have set up a writing time, honor it as you would a medical appointment. Don’t allow others to usurp your time!

A schedule may be the tool you need to make a success of your writing. Don’t become another person who tried to write, who is thinking of writing.

2. Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft.

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formal research

You Need Formal Research

Interviewing family members and friends is clearly a form of research, but interviews alone are usually not enough to give your stories the depth they require. For that, you need formal research.

distance learning

Distance Learning: A Precious Opportunity

For most emerging writers, enrolling in a distance learning program is an exciting experience. At long last, for a period of time that is long enough to make a difference, you give yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself in learning the “best practices” of the writing craft that you has been so wanting to learn for a long time.

An adult-learning program which will help you to master writing might be a university course, a local workshop, a one-on-one relationship with a mentor, or a tele-course over the telephone and/or internet.

Many, perhaps most, adult learners, with responsibilities that often include a family, a job, a home, you are unable like your adolescent counterpart to take time out—months, even years—to leave your life to devote yourself to mastering the craft of writing.

Open your world up with distance learning.

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Scope: What's Right for You?

Scope: What’s Right for You?

In this video, Scope: What’s Right for You?, I ask how much time and energy are you willing to give to writing your memoir? The more honest and insightful you are in answering this question, the more pleasure you will derive from your writing and the greater the satisfaction you will find in preserving your stories. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing a non-fiction book

Writing a Non-Fiction Book

Writing a non-fiction book is possible!

A common lament, I hear from writers goes like this, “I wanted a book, and I got off to a good start writing a memoir. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but then I just stopped. I don’t know why.”

What I have sometimes found is that people approach memoir-writing as an easy access to becoming “an author.”

“It’s my life after all,” people say. “I ought to know enough about myself to write a memoir without too much of a problem.”

Well, yes and no. It’s clearly your life, but feeling your way through it deeply enough to write about it with any insight, is not a sure thing.

“My own book”—the words convey an excitement and an importance that can be satisfying. And the memoir seemed an entrance, but the fact is that some people may not have the sensibility to write a memoir or may not be ready in their experience of their lives to undertake the project.

A special phrase–“My own book”

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A gift for you...
...because you need to get your memoir written. This little book will focus you to complete your memoir.
  • Your memoir deserves to be written. We help people get their story down—right!
  • Writing a memoir or want to improve one you're working on? Download Memoir Writing 101: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir or Lifestory / 10 Steps and a Bonus.
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  • If you are already a member of The Memoir Network, this e-book and others are available to you free in Member Resources.