If you’re anything like me, the idea of writing a memoir is a little daunting. Who has time to write a book? We all have jobs, kids, stresses, and other priorities to do. That’s what I thought, before I started writing about a topic I knew a lot about. Me. What always stopped me before was the thought, “what have I done with my life that is worth writing about?” Are memoirs only for old people? No! Write your Memoir now! I promise you won’t regret it.
What you have done is unique to you alone, and not only might someone want to read it, you might find out a lot about yourself. I know I have. Don’t wait. Not to mention, you’re going to want to write one before it’s too late! If you haven’t read my post about googling your own obituary, it might help light a fire under you!
What I learned writing my Memoir
So, as I write this blog post I am about 16,000 words into my memoir. It’s not my whole life, but I’ve chosen a very important aspect to write about. I’m writing about my upbringing in the Mormon church and why I left it.
I had a number of interesting revelations while I was writing that I didn’t expect. The most important thing is that going back and remembering and writing down my memories was much more cathartic than I would have expected.
As I sat down at my laptop and remembered things, the memories and emotions came flooding back. Memories of joy and pain, happiness and grief.
It’s like a free therapy session
Writing a memoir made me feel like I was in a free therapy session. I would sift through and discover old memories. These memories made me realize how and why I behave the way I do. It puts your life and actions in a timeline that you can visualize and process.
I’ve cried, or teared up, or laughed out loud so many times writing my memoir. And this isn’t even my full biography, it’s just dealing with my religious upbringing.
Some Tips For Writing Your Memoir
Writing is hard. It’s hard to make that discipline to sit down and just pour everything out onto paper. So here are some things I have found very helpful.
1) Put on some headphones and listen to music that will make you focus.
This has been one of the most powerful things that I have done to force me to write. I’m a sound snob and need my Bose QC Noise cancelling headphones, but I do think they help me focus.
And I know it may be sacrilegious, but in order to write this book, I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It really helps, I think, to listen to music that brings you back to the time and place you are writing about. When I listen to this choir, new memories, good and confusing seem to magically appear. Maybe try listening to music from your childhood, or music that triggers you and write down which memories it brings up.
2) Buy an App that is specifically designed for writing.
I purchased an app called Werdsmith that I only use when I’m writing my novel, short stories, little poems, etc. To me it’s something that I can pull up on my ipad or computer that tells me, “it’s time to write.” It automatically puts it into novel format. There are other formats, for instance, if you want to write a screenplay, or just free write. When I pull up Microsoft Word, it feels like I’m writing a college paper again, so I avoid that at all costs.
3) Find a Purpose
I feel like writing for a purpose adds an extra amount of motivation. If you have multiple purposes, all the better. Know these purposes and tell them to yourself. Some of my reasons I am writing this biography are that I want my family to know more about me. If it turns out to be interesting at all maybe someone will buy it! And I’m writing more frequently now because of its reflective and therapeutic benefits. You’ll find your own, and find your joy.
4) Set some sort of daily goal
Setting a goal is easy. Maintaining that goal can be hard. So the key here is to make sure that goal is super easy. Start small. Start with a goal of 100 words per day. If that is too much, write down a memory that you had of your childhood that you can expound upon later. I think the key here, is that even if you are not “writing” in your novel, you wrote something. If I remember something from my childhood I want to add, I might write “my baptism, two weeks after my eighth birthday, Marysville CA, with my cousin and brother. The water was warm and comfortable.” There I was just jotting down a memory I could come back to later, and without knowing it, I just wrote 21 words that will grow to likely be an entire chapter. Take little notes and writing your autobiography will be a snap.
5) Set Up Your Writing Atmosphere
Make sure where you write is peaceful. Make sure it’s a place that sparks joy. Have your favorite treats set up next to your station. Make or buy your favorite cup of coffee, glass of wine, iced tea, sparkling water, or whatever is indulgent to you and make writing like your own personal spa. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
So don’t waste time Writing your Autobiography!
If you are anything like me, you have no idea how many people you’ve forgotten about. How many people impacted you. How many events that were inspiring and traumatic that changed your life that you are now ready to confront. And if you are brave enough to let your friends and family read it, they will get a glimpse into your life and how you see yourself. It may inspire a little empathy and understanding and bring you closer too the people you care about.
You never have to publish it. You can keep it with you and add to it for the rest of your life! Just enjoy all the benefits that comes with writing your autobiography, and do it now!