10 ways memoir writing helps you now

by Jerry Waxler

Many people are unsure about writing their memoir because they think all those memories will pull them into the past. It’s true that writing about memories is like digging down into a deep old pile, but there’s no need to get lost in it. The goal is to bring back the treasures. There are valuable lessons, achievements, and pleasures in there but you can’t access them because they are buried under a multitude of experiences. To gather their value, tell the story. To promote the legacy you can take advantage of yourself, I’ve compiled a list of 10 ways writing your memoir will help you now and in the future.

  1. Develops writing skill that come in handy for all sorts of other communication applications, like writing letters or newsletter articles.
  2. By organizing your life into stories, people get to know you faster, and often more intimately than through the usual chatter of everyday encounters.
  3. Writing is a powerful brain toning exercise that will keep you keen and energized.
  4. By reviewing the past, you notice things that happen over and over. Once you see such patterns, you can learn how you contribute to them, and find ways to improve next time. This benefit is available at any age, even if you think you are finished growing.
  5. Memoir writing helps you rework the past, making better sense of things that pull you back, or things that confuse you that never made sense. This helps you feel better in the present.
  6. You can glean stories from your life, and apply them to fictional stories you create about characters in worlds of your choosing. Telling stories is one of the pleasures of a creative life.
  7. You can often gain insights into your siblings and other relatives, creating a richer, more compassionate experience with the people who share your genes and childhood.
  8. Reap rewards from your life the way a farmer harvests crops. By becoming more conscious of accomplishments and victories, you boost your confidence about who you are and where you’re going.
  9. One reason people seem to fade with age is that they lose touch with their past. Writing maintains links between past and present, giving you confidence to see yourself as an effective actor in the world, even though many of those actions happened years ago.
  10. By seeing life as a story, you build the skills to tell a sensible story of the future. Generating a story of the future is a powerful motivational and planning tool that helps you continue to move forward with energy.

4 thoughts on “10 ways memoir writing helps you now

  1. What great suggestions and perspectives. I like the point about how the process of memoir writing allows one to “make better sense of the things that pull you back.” Hindsight IS 20/20. Some great reasons to start writing!

  2. Thanks for writing this excellent piece on memoirs. One of the best things about writing one’s life stories is that, as you say here, “Memoir writing helps you rework the past…” This is so true! I have my second book of memoirs coming out in three weeks. My first book was “The Wishing Years” and the new one is “A Tree Grows in Trout Creek.” Both are collections of poignant and funny stories of my growing up years in the rugged and isolated area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These stories have helped me reach back into my past and pull up the most important events, remembrances and losses. It seems there is no better way to look at one’s life, celebrate one’s childhood, or deal with painful moments in a positive way than by writing memoirs.

  3. I thought your second and seventh points were especially good ones.

    Arranging the facts of your life into cohesive narratives is definitely a good way to teach other people about yourself. (It’s also far more entertaining than “the usual chatter of everyday encounters.”)

    And I love the idea that I could examine past episodes in my life and come away with a new respect for a person who’s still in my life today. It makes memoir-writing a very enticing prospect, in fact.

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