Writing a memoir

If you are keen to start writing about your life but are daunted or overwhelmed by the idea of writing your complete life story, then why not start by writing a memoir.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is all about your own life but instead of trying to recall and recount everything (typically chronologically), a memoir enables you to focus on key events. themes, periods, experiences etc..

Because a memoir is just one slice of your life, if you ultimately aspire to something greater, you don’t have to be limited to just one memoir. Some writers go on to write a series of memoirs which they then combine into their full-length life story.

Deciding on the focus or topic for your memoir

You may already have some ideas about what you would like to focus on for your first memoir but if you find yourself struggling to find a topic here are some ideas to get you started:

  • a significant turning point in your life
  • someone who influenced your life
  • an unforgettable person you met
  • an accomplishment or achievement you look back on with pride
  • a hobby or interest that means a great deal to you and has played a big part in your life
  • the influence of music, art, theatre, sport or whatever in your life
  • an amusing event or occasion
  • a significant or life-changing event or period
  • a memorable trip or holiday
  • a special relationship
  • surviving an illness
  • winning a competition or getting an award

Dig out old photos

If none of the above work for you them try getting out some old photos or diaries, or any other nostalgic memorabilia and see what memories they bring back to you. Revisit a place featured in a photo or reconnect with some or all of the people in a photo to help rekindle your memories.

Finding a theme

To help you focus and avoid wandering off in other directions, you could also consider adopting a specific style or theme for your memoir. For example:

  • humour
  • nostalgia
  • life affirming
  • life changing
  • informative
  • memorable

Don’t be constrained by the suggestions for topics and themes above. They are simply there to get you thinking.

If you are now feel inspired to get scribbling, take a look at Start writing your memoir.

Writing a memoir – finding your topic and theme

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