Frequently asked questions about “Should I write a memoir?”

by Jerry Waxler

This is the second installment in my series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Memoir Writing. This list focuses on questions about why and if you should write a memoir.

Who are these people who would read about my life?

Your written account of life could help friends and family know you better. You may have group members or people with a similar set of experiences who would be curious to know more about what you went through. If you are promoting a cause, your memoir might appeal to people who are interested. And if it is well-written and satisfies other criteria of the marketplace, you may earn the attention of strangers.

Why would strangers read about my life?

People read stories for all kinds of reasons: for entertainment, information, curiosity, and escape. Memoirs break down barriers, inviting readers to set aside their own lives for a few hours while they walk in yours. Even ordinary lives, when written in a well crafted story, can fulfill the reader’s needs.

I’m not a professional writer. How can I write a memoir?

No matter what your current level of expertise, this writing goal provides a wonderful opportunity for self-expression and introspection. And attempting to improve your writing skill will turn into an invigorating quest. Take classes, attend conferences, and workshops and get feedback from peers and editors. And by simply writing regularly you will improve. In addition, the neurological exercise is good for your brain.

Am I too old?

Harry Bernstein published his memoir “Invisible Wall” when he was 93. It was about growing up in a Jewish neighborhood in Great Britain in the era of World War I. After the book was published, he immediately began working on his second, “The Dream”.

Am I too young?

Zlata Filopovic started writing her memoir when she was 10. “Zlata’s Diary,” about growing up in war torn Sarajevo, became a bestseller.

Does writing my memoir make me a narcissist?

To communicate their lives, memoir writers learn how to reach towards strangers. While learning this skill, writers read memoirs, an activity which expands empathy even further. In fact, writing a memoir might be one of the best antidotes to narcissism.

Related essay: Is it narcissistic to write your memoir?

Is writing a memoir therapeutic?

Through the course of decades, recollections accumulate in ever higher heaps. When we try to make sense of this jumble, some events are obscured while others jut out with exaggerated importance. To reclaim our past, we are aided by scrapbooks and photo albums, but for the most part, our past is stored in a hodge-podge of mental images that come to mind in any order they please.

By writing your story, you record events in a sensible sequence, welded together by emotional and historical forces. The story brings together your entire self, increasing your clarity about who you are e. In addition, you gain deeper appreciation for all the characters who have acted on your stage.

Related Essay:  Is a memoir therapeutic?

Other answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Memoir Writing

Frequently Asked Questions about Published Memoirs

For more memoir writing resources

To see brief descriptions and links to all the essays on this blog, click here.

To order my short, step-by-step how-to guide to write your memoir, click here.

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