I have been writing my memoirs for a while, despite the fact that most people laugh when I mention this and tell me I am far too young to be writing memoirs. Apparently, only celebrities do that.
The first time I tried to write about the part of my life that I wanted to share, I couldn’t go past the first page. It was too painful. I had to wait another two years before I was ready. I kept trying and I kept being stopped by the pain. And then one day, it started. I wrote the whole first volume in six months. The gates were open. I was unblocked. This is one of the difficulties about writing memoirs, you revisit events and if they have not been resolved, you have to come to terms with your past. This is not always an easy task.
Writing about your past just to settle the record does not work.
Writing about the past to help others with similar issues does not work if you haven’t worked on your own issues.
Writing about the past can make you stuck… in the past.
On the positive side, writing about your life is an incredibly healing process. It cannot be rushed. There are even medical studies that show that people who have had accidents and who write about it heal faster than those who haven’t journaled. I find this really impressive and to me, it validates the importance of writing one’s story.
As Maya Angelou said beautifully: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
One of the pitfalls of writing memoirs is you write it as it is. Then when people tell you it’s missing a little action here or there is a bit that is long there, you defend yourself by saying: “That is how it happened”.
With experience you will understand that the art of writing memoirs is just like any other writing skill. It’s not just the story, it’s how you tell it. Memoirs are still a story. And they have to obey the genre of story telling. It has to be exciting. It has to sustain the interest. It has to have conflict and an obstacle. So honing your plotting skills is just as important. Character development is also as important. Just because it is your story, doesn’t mean it is not “a story”, although when you hear this, you might be feeling hurt.
When I started writing my memoirs, I had not found useful advice to help me started. I hope this helps you.
To your creativity,
Ange de Lumiere