Writing a memoir about yourself

ConfidenceInspirationMotivationPublishingThe writing life 26 Comments In those heady days, back inwhen I achieved my dream and had my first novel The Temple of Hymen published by Penguin, it was easy to take myself seriously as a writer. I knew that I was a serious writer. Here was this hugely respected man, telling me to take myself seriously; I decided to do just that.

Writing a memoir about yourself

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It was as if I decided to build a house and just started nailing together boards without giving a thought to blueprints. I put up some strange-looking houses that way, in the form of inert drafts filled with pointless scenes. I would have saved myself a lot of time if I had drawn an arc.

Once you have your arc, you stop banging your head on all those overwhelming questions that come with writing from real life.

Where should the story begin? Where should it end? You learn not to lose the thread of your story by cramming in everything that happened—the trip to Alaska, the love letters, the musty apartment you rented before you got the house. When you have an arc, you already know what must be dramatized in scene and what can be dealt with more quickly in summary.

The Desire Line The first step in drawing an arc is to answer this question: In her book on writing memoir, Your Life as Story, my friend Tristine Rainer calls this the desire line. The struggle to achieve the desire drives the book. You might have heard fiction writers call it the through line.

You should be able to state the desire line in a sentence: I wanted to be a psychiatrist.

I wanted to stay in the police department. I wanted to love my stepson. I wanted to make a new life in Uganda after the death of my wife. I wanted to be a model though I weighed pounds. Keep in mind that the desire line can change by the end of the memoir. For example, a teen author might begin by chronicling the methodical engineering of his own destruction, but end by deciding he wants to live.

writing a memoir about yourself

The desire line must be one that makes the story about you. In my case, I had to keep searching until I found the right desire line: Actions and Obstacles Once you have the desire line, you can lay out the events of your book.

What did you do to get what you wanted? What got in your way?

The National Association of Memoir Writers | Home Page | National Association Memoir Writers

Begin planning your story arc by jotting down a list of actions and obstacles: In your memoir, remember that you are the action hero. You try a lot of different things to solve your problem, with mixed results. For this reason, the obstacles in your book are just as important as the actions.

Obstacles are often external: Even more interesting to the reader, however, are the internal obstacles: After all, we all do, right?

If your story is one of pingponging from triumph to triumph, keep it to yourself, thanks! Why did you ignore evidence that your husband was lying to you? Or that you were lying to yourself? Often the real drama of a memoir is in watching the narrator shed beliefs and behaviors that keep him from getting what he wants.

If that happens, revisit your desire line until a clearer, more action-driven story arc presents itself. Take it from me: The best memoirs show how human beings change under pressure, not just the bad things that can happen to people.Since Writing the Memoir came out in early it has sold roughly 80, copies and is consistently praised as "the best book on memoir out there." It is thought-provoking, explanatory, and practical: each chapter ends with writing exercises.

It covers everything from questions of truth and ethics to questions of craft and the crucial retrospective voice. Feb 03,  · How to Write a Memoir. In this Article: Be kind to yourself. Writing a memoir is a very personal, gut-wrenching journey.

A memoir should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There should be a problem, a conflict, and a resolution. Cookies make wikiHow better. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy%(). Whip your memoirs into shape or begin writing them!

Memoir Writing Course develops an ability to write based on personal experience, with literary purpose. “I find that the writing of a memoir has two functions. One is to pass on, as much as you’re willing to tell, the facts and deeds of your life to those who might be at all interested.

The other function is to discover a truth about yourself that you never had either the time or the courage to. I was sent to prison at the age of 19 for second-degree murder.

How To Find Yourself In Leslie Jamison's Addiction Memoir | HuffPost

I spent my time reading and writing, using books to free my mind and expand my thinking. As a writer, active member and chair of the London Writers’ Cafe – one of the largest writing groups in the UK – Lisa Goll knows a thing or two about how to get the most from participating in a writing community.

Here she shares her top tips on finding the group that’s right for you, what to expect on joining and how to survive the writing velociraptors.

On taking yourself seriously as a writer | The Writing Coach