Memoir writing for starters

(The title of this blog post is tongue-in-cheek. We all have to begin somewhere.)

How we write memoir depends hugely on why we are writing. But assuming we have sorted through our motivations and decided to go ahead, there are a few more practical tips that might help to get our particular story written.

~Write someone else’s story first. You don’t need to write ‘the truth’ or anything like it. You don’t need a book length endeavour either: A couple of good anecdotes with which you truly empathise and which you can imagine in glowing detail, is enough to help us begin to see life from different perspectives and to describe it. One thing writing memoir taught me is that there is no such thing as the truth, and that, ‘the past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.’ Building empathy is crucial to balanced writing, and for that, even an imaginary story from someone else’s point of view is helpful.

~To begin with, it helps to set aside some time every day to get used to actually writing, and being available for that. If we have timetabled time, it follows that we respect it and come to treasure it as the opportunity we allow ourselves each day to go exploring. As we get more used to writing and build it into our daily routines, we can vary our patterns, and discover for ourselves what works.

~Listen out for any snippets of conversation. If you have a retentive mind for detail, politely ask for clarity on any anecdote that explains, or brightens the account.

~Do some on-line research for details, to get you in the mood to go exploring.

~Call yourself a writer, and feel the conviction grow that what we do here is worthwhile. We may not see any obvious dividends, but when we feel energised, excited, relieved… these are good signs that we are on the right lines.

~Write in silence, so that you can hear clearly what you want to write.

~Build a sympathetic writers network that can help you to respect, plan and focus on your writing.

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