The phrase “easy memoir writing” is contradictory. After all, there’s nothing easy about delving deep within yourself to find your greatest passions, feats, and fears. And it’s even harder to find the words to put those things on paper. 

Right?

Well, actually, that’s wrong. 

When people are held back from writing their personal memoirs, it’s usually because of a few different (yet common) fears. In this article, we’ll go over what these fears are, how to overcome them, and how to structure your story so that it’s as compelling as your favorite novel. 

 

woman staring pensively out the window, reflecting on life

 

Why Should I Write a Memoir?

These days, a quick scan of the internet will demonstrate that there are very few things maintaining a thread of interconnection between generations. When you Google things like “how do I become closer to my grandchildren?” you’re met with a few of the same simple suggestions: 

  • Work on creating memories
  • Spend more time together
  • Do things together
  • Try to relate to them

So, with this in mind, how do we reopen the paths that connect the various generations? 

The answer is by writing memoirs. 

Dr. Cheryl Swenson, director of the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies, phrased this issue succinctly: “More and more older people understand that unless they write their story, it will be lost. Or as one man said, I’ll just be a name scribbled on the back of a faded photograph.” 

“We are social, story-telling humans. Through our stories, our intergenerational connections can be kept strong, even with great-great-grandchildren we may never meet,” Svensson continues, “Writing your life story is a gift you leave for the future.”

The most proven way to connect generations and reconnect with your children and grandchildren is by sharing your life story. In fact, the best book you’ll ever read is the one you write. And it’s as easy as writing a letter. 

 

Forks in the road related to easy memoir writing

 

What is Holding Me Back From Writing My Memoir?

If you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a memoir but you haven’t started yet, you’re likely being stopped by the most common hurdle imaginable: your inner dialogue. 

Though your desire to leave a lasting connection with your family draws your interest toward memoir-writing, your inner dialogue stops you from taking that leap. It says things like:
“But you don’t have much of a story.”“But you’re not a writer.” “But you wouldn’t know where to start.” 

These assertions, however loud they may seem, could not be more wrong. There has never been a single person that has ever lived who didn’t have a few interesting stories to tell. 

And that assertion about not being a writer? Well, I have good news for you. If you’ve ever written a letter, an email, or even a diary entry, then you’re a writer. 

“But what about not knowing where to start?” You’re probably asking. 

Well, that’s what we’re here for. 

Easy Memoir Writing: Structure Your Story Around Themes

Remember those days back in grade school English when your teacher would harp on about story themes and ask you to identify the theme in this piece of text or that one? 

Well, as it turns out, she was onto something. 

Every story you’ve ever read has a theme, and yours will too. In fact, you’ll be leveraging these themes to do some easy memoir writing. 

You can begin by deciding on your chapters to get your story organized into themes. You can even name these chapters after the theme they represent. To start your easy memoir writing experience, take one of the chapters/themes you’ve chosen, think of an event or two that embody that theme, and start writing. 

 

person writing themes with dry erase marker

 

A good rule of thumb to follow here is to follow a guideline that many published authors abide by: write as if you were speaking. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or flow at this point. You will have time to edit later. 

Begin by writing a short, two- to three-page story about the event that you’ve chosen to go with your theme, and include as many details as you can. Then, repeat this process as many times as you’d like for that particular theme (you can glue these stories together into a cohesive chapter later). After this, you simply add some photos and voila! Your memoir writing experience has begun! 

Memoir Themes to Choose From

Not everyone is great at coming up with themes—goodness knows I’m not. I’ve outlined a few core themes below that you can center your story around.

Love and Loss

A major occurrence that shapes us all throughout our lives is our experiences with love and heartbreak. When using this as your theme, try to consider major relationships you’ve had and how the end (or continuance) of those relationships affected where you are today. Did they change parts of who you are? Did they teach you to be more empathetic? How did you recover when they were over? 

The Meaning of Wealth

No matter who you are, money has likely played a significant role for you at some point. Our financial status is over a lifelong struggle as we fight to balance our home lives with our work lives. 

How did you go about doing this? What was your ideal balance? How well-off was your family during your childhood and did this affect the way you perceived money? Do you think your financial status had an effect on how your personality developed? 

Forks in the Road

We are defined by the choices we make. Forks in the road are key turning points in our lives where we made decisions that affected everything that came after. Which of your forks in the road experiences stand out to you? Did you have to choose between two opposing jobs? Move out of state and away from your family? End a relationship even though you didn’t want to? 

The themes listed above are not even a fraction of the ones you can use to outline your memoir, but these should at least serve to get your creative juices flowing. 

Find more examples of themes here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The above tips and themes equip you to write about major events in your life, but they are only the beginning. Once you have written about the things that had the biggest impact on you, begin considering the small events. These will be those you don’t consider important enough to write down but still remember after all these years. 

As you do this, you’ll be surprised to find that a single theme tends to emerge that all the other themes fit into. For example, if you lived a life where you were constantly caring for loved ones and friends and then grew up to be a nurse or caretaker, you might consider naming your memoir My Life: Your Guardian. 

Ultimately, your life story is a powerful gift that can forever connect you to your children and grandchildren. Don’t let hesitation take that from you. 

It’s never too late to carve out your legacy. Writing our stories is a proven way to make that happen. 

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