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Archive | Seniors Writing Memoir and Lifestories

Age takes to memory, it has been said, as youth takes to poetry. That is why seniors writing memoirs and lifestories is such a natural.

In this category [Seniors Writing Memoirs and Lifestories], how-to and motivational articles have been gathered to help first-time, and perhaps only-time, writers to generate more meaningful and interesting lifestories than they might on their own by “winging it.”

You can learn to write better stories.

People just like you have written interesting and meaningful memoirs using methods and ideas outlined both below and throughout the Memoir Writer’s Blog.

Don’t forget to search the BLOG CATEGORIES to the right of the page for specific topics that interest you or promise to be of service to your memoir writing. There are hundreds of published articles here that cannot fail to help you write the best memoir you are capable of.

Please share this wealth with your friends and colleagues.

If you are someone working in senior education…

Seniors Writing Memoirs and Lifestories is also valuable to the professional seeking resources to work with older writers. In addition to these pages, as a professional, you will do well want to check out our specific resources to help memoir professionals succeed more quickly.

Remember: whatever you do today, write a bit on your memoir.

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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the best memoir writing book

Write A Better Memoir: 10 How-to Tips

Writers ask me what they can do the most easily to write a better memoir. While I can understand the wish to write more quickly and easily, I’m going to share with you that writing a better memoir needs to be done slowly and thoughtfully. A rushed job is probably going to be a botched job.

The following are my recommendations to boost the quality of your memoir writing. They are obvious tasks which form the substance of this post. Each tip below comes loaded with links. In some instances, the identical words are highlighted, but they lead to separate articles that develop a different angle of the topic. Do not omit to click a repeated word.

I know some impatient readers are going to see following links as a problem, but I hope that you will not and will understand that you are being offered an in-depth e-course on how to improve your memoir writing. This is university-level work I am making available to you.

Be patient and dig in. In fact, it may take you a few days to fully absorb this post—but it will be amply worth the effort in the improved quality of your memoir.

1. Make a Memory List.

If there is one thing I would qualify as a magic bullet in memoir writing it would be the Memory List. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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Gathering stories at family events

5 Steps to Gathering Stories at Family Events

Gathering stories at family events—interviewing—is one of these basic steps you can master for writing your memoir. Following these basic steps, anyone can succeed at writing interesting and meaningful memoirs.

As a memoirist, you must always double-check the information you already have, and seek new material to flesh out your stories. Reunions, weddings, funerals, birthday and holiday celebrations rate well on both of these tasks: scattered relatives, each of whom has a piece of the family history to share, are in one place at one time. Gathering stories at family events is an opportunity not to be missed.

Gathering stories at family events

When it comes down to it, people love to tell their stories. The family historian’s job is to ask the right questions to get to the heart of the story. Here are five simple guidelines, extracted from both Turning Memories Into Memoirs and The Photo Scribe to facilitate gathering stories at family events. These suggestions will streamline the process for would-be lifewriters: [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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creating a book of memoirs

6 Easy Steps to Creating a Book of Memoirs

Creating a book of memoirs is possible

Celebrating and honoring your life by remembering and writing both big and small stories is very rewarding. It is a significant way to understand your life and to come to peace with it. Creating a book of memoirs will leave a legacy your family will treasure for generations–don’t you wish your grandparents had written their memoirs?

Follow these simple writing suggestions and you’ll find the task of preserving your stories is well underway.

1. First, make a Memory List

A Memory List a list of all your life’s important events and relationships. Your Memory List can have hundreds of items. When you sit down to write a story, you’ll have this list of topics handy. The Memory List helps you to focus on things that deserve the most attention. It also primes the pump of memory: the more you write, the more you’ll remember. Your list will grow as you write! At first, just jot things down. As the list gets longer, organize it chronologically. With your Memory List handy to write from, you will never again suffer from “writer’s block!” Creating a book of memoirs will be easier than before.

2. Start anywhere you feel like starting.

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Get More Info From Your Photos

Get More Info From Your Photos–The small details for your memoir are in your photos

Look with “new eyes” to get more info from your photos.

“Where do I find more details for my memoir?” you ask. “I remember a lot and I’ve done my Memory List, but where is the small stuff I need to ground my memoir—and possibly provide new insights?”

The answer is in your photos. Get more info from your photos by following these steps

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Memoir or Autobiographical Fiction

Which to Write: Memoir or Autobiographical Fiction? There is a Difference!

DL: the following is an adaptation of a reply I made on LinkedIn to comments about how writing autobiographical fiction was pretty much the same as memoir.  You will read that I disagree strongly. (If you are a member of LinkedIn, I would love to have a LinkedIn connection with you if we are not already connected.

Should I write memoir or autobiographical fiction?

I sometimes get asked this question and I have to confess that my reaction is firm. They are not the same.

There is a clear difference—a chasm really—between the choice of memoir or autobiographical fiction. While one has chosen to write one or the other, one does not have a choice to call one by the name of another. The writer owes it to the reader to be clear. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing your first draft

Writing Your First Draft: Every Memoir Starts That Way!

Give yourself permission to write a rough first draft. Write pages and pages in which you describe the who, the what, the where and the when of the story. Later, as you rework the piece, the why will be written in.

If you are one of those memoir writers who is not otherwise a writer and who will perhaps never write anything else, know that you need to be kind to yourself. In the Turning Memories Into Memoirs workshops, I am often surprised—and dismayed—at how demanding writers are on themselves at an early stage of the process. There are even times when a writer will not turn in a piece of writing because it was not “good enough”—and that in spite of my having told the group that the writing they would submit would still be in its first draft stage.

Think of the first draft of writing as “fixing” the story in the same way that in days when photographs were fixed by chemicals that stage was important if the image was not to be lost. Your first draft is the stage when you “fix” your story, keep it from being lost rather than make it into a masterpiece.

Don’t reward yourself for being a perfectionist!

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soul work

How to Write a Significant Memoir

DL: This is a piece about how to write a significant memoir I published on the LinkedIn blog Pulse. It addresses a major challenge many writer face—at least writers who want to have an audience beyond family and friends.

That our memoir is insignificant is about the last thing we memoir writers ever want to read about our magnum opus. How do we write a significant memoir?

What separates a significant memoir from an insignificant one?

Family myths figures prominently in a memoir.

A memoir tells the story of a hero’s journey.

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fame, it’s not the scope of the arena of the action. The key to significance lies elsewhere.

When memoir writers set out to record the facts and the dates of their lives, they are doing first-draft work. We’ve all read reviews of memoirs—and possibly read the memoirs themselves—that bemoan how the famous memoirist has not given anything away. The writer has regurgitated info that could be found in newspaper and magazine articles of the time. Other than “I was happy that…” there is little insight to be found.

The reader is likely to find this memoir insignificant.

The more famous and well-known or high achieving the memoirist may have been, the more this may be one of the writing challenges: to go beyond thinking that the facts and circumstances are in themselves significant enough to carry a reader through several hundred pages. (How much more so when the writer is not well known!)

What makes a memoir have significance to the reader?

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How long should it take to write a memoir?

How Long Should It Take to Write a Memoir? Set a Deadline!

How Useful Is A Memoir Timeline?

Have you ever wondered, “How long should it take to write a memoir?”

One answer, of course, is that it takes as long as it takes. While so true, this answer is not useful to those writers who are trying to get their duckies in line—looking at where the time is in their schedules to write, knowing what support to ask from their life partners, etc.

I’ve come up with a calculation for those people who want some sense of how long writing a memoir might take. The following time frame is realistic for any writer who needs a timeline to complete a 200-page memoir. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir fiction

Memoir Versus Fiction, or Is Memoir Fiction?

I emphatically don’t agree that memoir is fiction. Although a memoir invariably uses fiction techniques—and we will look at one memoir in this post, it must be an as-much-as-possible true accounting of an experience. I must confess to not seeing a problem with the idea of memoir versus fiction. Memoir IS NOT fiction!

A strength of fiction is its ability—when it is done right—to place us in the story, to enable us to get out of our “present” and enter into the time of the story. The memoir writer has to aim for the same level of involvement. In that sense, there is again no conflict of memoir versus fiction.

In many cases, this involves removing the narrator from our field of attention.

An easy mistake to correct

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A gift for you...
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