Tag Archives: start writing your memoir

Start Writing Your Memoir

In our last post, we talked about the difference between a memoir and a biography. In this post, I am going to share the first of seven tips to help you start writing your memoir. Although this post is primarily for individuals who haven’t started writing their memoir, even if you have begun writing, you may still find this series of blog posts helpful. The goal of this series is to generate a first draft of your memoir.

Tip #1:

Decide how you’re going to write the first draft of your memoir. Are you going to type it using a word processing program such as Microsoft’s Word? Or, maybe you already have some experience writing and you would like to use a writing software such as Scrivener. I found Microsoft’s Word sufficient for my first draft of THAT WAS THEN. You can even format in Word using Styles. More about that later, after your first draft has gone through numerous rounds of edits and your manuscript is ready to be formatted.

If the thought of sitting at your computer for a couple of hours each day (some people can churn out several pages in just one hour) does not get your heart thumping with excitement, you may want to consider a dictation-type software such as Dragon. With this device, you can record your voice with a recorded audio device . After you transfer the files (recording) to your computer, Dragon will transcribe the file for you. Although you will need to install the software and set it up, which includes “training” the software to recognize your voice, for some people, this is a more feasible alternative to sitting in front of a computer for a couple of hours each day. You may even finish your first draft faster since most of us talk faster than we type.

Dragon is also a great alternative for individuals who are concerned about spelling and grammar. (You can run each document through the spellcheck once it has been transcribed and leave the editing to a good copy editor.) Keep in mind that there will probably be some clean up involved, as the software is not 100% accurate. (The more you use it, the better it will work for you.)

I found sitting at my computer each day helped me to establish a writing routine, which helped me to write my first draft in three months. That’s it for now.

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What is a Memoir?

Let’s start with what a memoir is not. A memoir is not a biography or an autobiography where you tell your entire life story. A memoir entails a specific aspect of your life. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines memoir as

a narrative composed from personal experience.

I’ve always been interested in other people’s lives, what makes them tick and how they got where they are today. At one time, only celebrities wrote memoirs. Today, anyone can write and publish their memoir. It’s a good thing too because many of us have stories to tell that can impact other people’s lives.

Many of my favorite books (I learned years after I read them) were actually memoirs, such as I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou and Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody, both of which changed my life. Note: A good memoir will be life-changing to the reader.

(At one time, there was no clear distinction between biography and memoir. Today, memoirs are clearly denoted on the front of the book.) Personally, I get a little lost with biographies–too long and not enough punch.

Just like there are different types of life experiences, there are different types of memoirs, coming-of-age, addiction, travel, food, transformation and spirituality, just to name a few. My favorite type of memoir is coming-of-age memoirs, such as James McBride’s The Color of Water because the writer usually writes from a different era and imparts a bit of history.

In an autobiography, the writer attempts to write about every aspect of their life. A memorist, however, picks and chooses what is included in their memoir, based on the experience they are sharing and their message.

So, there you have it.

Are you ready to start writing? Our next post will deal with writing–getting started.

What’s Your Story?

“You don’t know my story!” You may have heard this during a worship service. Or, you may have said this yourself. Everyone has a story to tell. If you don’t tell your story, how are we going to know your story?

Our mission at Reflections Books is to encourage individuals to write and publish their memoirs–a book about their life experiences–to impact and change lives.

Revelations 12:11 teaches us that we are overcomers through our testimonies (our stories), but telling your story will not only empower you, but it can also help others.

There is someone, somewhere, going through the same thing that you have gone through. (Or, they have already experienced it.) And your story, or testimony, can change their perspective about their situation. If you made it through, so can they.

Just think, your story can, literally, change someone’s life.