Memoir Writing: Getting Started

Sometimes the hardest part of writing our life stories is just getting started. Following are some ideas to help you out:

  • Write them down. Don’t worry about whether you have written the words correctly or structured your sentences properly. Everyone isn't a wordsmith, so don’t let the technical aspects of writing get in your way. These are things that can be corrected later; that’s what editors are for. Instead, grab your pen and paper, or sit at your computer and start writing or typing.
  • Record them. Set your audio recorder next to you and start telling a story about a special time you remember. Once you’ve recorded your memories, have someone transcribe them for you. Both the recording and the written document will be valued by the people who love you. There are several transcription software programs and services available, e.g. Dragon Dictation. To use them, you load the app on to your computer, smartphone or tablet device and as you talk into the mic, it will transcribe the words for you. Also, if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download the Dictation app. It’s awesome.
  • Often it is easier to share stories when you are talking to a person and can get their feedback. To do this, you might ask friends or relatives if they are interested in joining with you to do this project. Then set a time each week or month when you can get together to do the projects included in the book. You might save a recording of your discussions so you can have them transcribed, or take notes so you can later write down the memories that come to mind.
  • Have someone interview you. This can be a friend or family member, or there are numerous places where you can find writers who do this. You can contact the English or Communications Department at your local University, or you might call your local newspaper. Reporters are often happy to take on little side jobs. Most are excellent interviewers… after all, that’s their job.