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We have perhaps all been trained to write the essay that focuses on thinking rather than generate more creative writing that invites emotions in writing. The result is that too many would-be memoirists slip into writing essays and avoid placing emotions in memoir writing.

An essay addresses the mind while a memoir speaks to the heart: one mind speaking to another mind rather than one heart speaking to another heart.

Intuiting this, people ask often, “How can I make my story more interesting? It doesn’t have much emotion?” These are people who are on the right tack. Others need to hear, “You aren’t in your stories at all. How can you make space for more emotion?

You belong in your stories

As Viga Boland, a guest memoirist on this blog, so well said it, “Put the me back into memoir.”

Essentially, when we read a memoir, we are not looking to learn about theories and philosophies. We read memoirs to learn about a person’s experience, about a personal hero’s journey.

Of course, in placing your emotions into your memoir, you need to safeguard your boundaries. Writing a memoir is not an occasion to “tell all” and cause emotional injury to one’s self or to others. But, even with this caveat, it is possible to share much. For many writers, that is much more then they are willing to share at present.

The more a writer shares the more sharing become all right. A good rule of writing to set for yourself is to write you vignette or story and let lose with your emotional side. Then, put the text aside and read it much later—even months later. Often the writer is comfortable with a text that had seemed too revealing earlier.

In conclusion

Each in its own way, the posts below address emotions in memoir writing and offer you a path to introducing more feeling into your writing.

too much backstory

Too Much Backstory–Are you making memoir writing more difficult than necessary?

How much backstory is too much? Today we will discuss how to avoid too much backstory in your memoir.

I hope this is not you…

You are memoir writing about a time when you—alas—got fired from your job. As you write about this, you throw in your college studies, how much you loved your major and how eager you were for the workplace. Then you go on to write about the catty politics of the office from which you got fired. You even throw in a vignette about your boss’s spouse who came onto you and another snippet about the wasteful (and tasteless) redecorating your boss commissioned. For good measure, you describe the company’s history and…


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Evoking Emotions in Your Readers

You Can Evoke Emotions in Your Readers. Here’s How. Instilling your memoir with enough emotion to stir up a response from your readers is do-able. It is undeniably one of the most important results an author must set out to achieve. A memoir seeks to move a reader and without evoking emotions, a memoir cannot […]

Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Writing Feelings into Your Memoir

Recently on the Forum, David wrote about not accessing the feeling side of his memories, of writing a memoir that, if I am understanding him right, was all details and facts.

Below is my response which can serve as a stand alone article, but I hope you will go to the Forum and read the thread and even write a note to David about what your take is on his situation.

Or if you prefer, leave a comment below about your thoughts about writing feelings into your memoir.

Here are some of my suggestions for writing feelings into your memoir:

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writing about growing up

Lightning or When Young Love Strikes

It was the summer the city burned. The weather was dry and hot, but the real tinder was a mixture of frustration and anger, white and black, promises and demands. If I paused to consider these things, the pause was imperceptible. I stood at the edge of the pool contemplating…

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