Whether you’re a seasoned writer or someone who’s never put pen to paper in earnest, the thought of sitting down to chronicle your life can be daunting. Luckily, by starting with just four key decisions, you can start thinking about your memoir in real terms and bringing your vision into reality.

Writing a memoir is an important step toward getting your story heard and validating your experiences. But, what if you don’t know where to start? How can you make sure you get your story right? And, most importantly, how do you know what’s the right thing to say? Read on for four crucial decisions that will help put your memoir on track.

Select the time period you wish to describe

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to have a plan before diving into the writing process. This is particularly important if you wish to write a long-form project. Try to pick a time period that most closely relates to your life experience. If it’s a general memoir, consider the year and month you experienced a significant life event. This can help you determine the order of events, and it gives you a frame of reference for a specific time period. It might be worth asking yourself “what are 3 characteristics that make a memoir interesting?”. Generally, the three to consider are whether your memoir is well-written, cohesive, and personal. A certain era can lend your writing a sense of depth and thoughtfulness that will resonate with the reader. For example, if you were a teenager during 9/11, you may wish to write about the day the attacks occurred. In this way, you can provide insight into the events and circumstances that led up to this day.

Determine if you’ll stick to facts or embellish

If you’ve racked your memory, examined the evidence, or even interviewed relevant figures in your life, you’ll likely have come up with a detailed timeline of events by this point. But, when you sit down to write your memoir, you still have the decision to make: will you stick to the facts or use your writing skills to create a more vivid, compelling story? 

There are pros and cons to each approach. If you wish to write a memoir that is historically accurate, then you should stick to the facts. This will ensure you’ve included everything relevant, and it will avoid the potential pitfall of omitting important information. But if you want to write so vividly that your readers feel as though they were there alongside you, you can add a few embellishments. At the end of the day, ask yourself how to make a memoir interesting – the answer is usually to embellish. 

Be careful not to go too far, though. While exaggeration may be useful in fiction, it’s considered a bad form to lie. You’re writing for an audience of readers, so you want to present your story as interestingly as possible. If you find yourself struggling with writing the content of your memoir, a memoir coach may be able to help you get over your writer’s block. 

Consider how close you want to get to your audience

When you’re ready to dive into writing your memoir, it’s important that you set some ground rules for yourself. And your first rule should be this: stick to what’s important. This may seem like an easy rule to stick to, but you’d be surprised how many authors veer off course with their memoirs. 

This happens for a couple of reasons:

  • Authors get too close to the story and lose sight of the bigger picture. This can lead to an over-reliance on vivid details that may dilute the overall message. 
  • Authors lose sight of the purpose of the story. When thinking about how to make a memoir, authors can get so caught up in relaying their life’s details that they forget that they’re telling a story. 

It’s important to remember that you’re telling a narrative. Get caught up in the details, yes, but also remember that your readers want to be invested.

Establish your memoir’s thesis

Your memoir’s thesis is the central idea or message you wish to convey. While your events will certainly constitute the bulk of your memoir, it’s important to remember that your memoir will always be about your message. Carefully considering which would make the best topic for a memoir is a lengthy process that you’re going to have to undertake. 

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Your memoir’s thesis can take any number of forms. It can be a single, overarching idea, a series of related ideas, a specific theme, an empowering message, an analysis of society, etc. The important thing is that it should be a unifying theme that links all of your events. Your memoir’s thesis should help your readers understand the bigger picture. Doing so will give your memoir a purpose, will give it direction, and will provide it with a sense of meaning. This is important.

In conclusion

Memoir writing is a challenging yet fulfilling process. It requires patience, perseverance, and a willingness to re-examine your life. It can also be very therapeutic. However, to truly make your memoir successful, you must understand your audience and make use of the four decisions outlined in this article. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a memoir that will resonate with your readers.

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