f you think your life would make for interesting reading then turning it into a story or writing a memoir can be an exciting and rewarding challenge.
Writing your life story, however, may not be as easy as it seems. On the one hand, you’ve got all the material there, and you’ve got an inside perspective to everything that happened - making it easy for you to tell the tale from a unique point of view.
However, you still have to work hard to get your audience on board, and once you get started you’ll soon realise it’s not as easy as simply transferring all your old diaries onto a Word Document!
If you want your story to be read and appreciated by others, there are lots of things you need to think about.
Here’s how to get started:
Get everything down
In the beginning, you just need to get everything down. Don’t worry about timelines, continuity, or even making it sound that good. Just literally jot down or map out all the significant parts of your life that you want to include in your book, and then begin to flesh them out.
Now it’s time to get organised. Think about how you want to present your life story. Will events unfold chronologically? Or will you group parts of your life together according to particular themes? Decide which direction you want to go in and start organising your content to begin to shape your book.
When it comes to writing your life story you should be honest with your reader, and yourself too. Tapping into raw and often brutal emotions and memories is often the way to get the best material, and though it might seem painful and scary, will make your book resonate with more people and your bravery will be admired.
Do your research
Just because it’s your stories and memories doesn’t mean you don’t have to do your research. You’ll no doubt write about other people in your memoir, so, where you can, make sure you talk to them, discuss the memories or versions of events you have and see if they match up.
Consider the reader
Remember that it is essential to consider your reader at all times. What may seem interesting and significant to you might not be so much to them - so always think about how to tell your story as if you were hearing it for the first time and didn’t know any of the people or the history behind it. How can you make your story have an impact on people? How can you make them care?
Use poetic licence
Sometimes the need to embellish certain aspects of a real-life story becomes apparent, and that’s OK. If you want to get creative and change the outcome or the unfolding of specific events you, the author, has every right to do so if you think it will please your reader and make for a better tale. However, just remember that if you are positioning your story as a work of complete truth you do need to be careful here. If your readers find out you have twisted certain events or haven’t been completely honest, they could end up feeling cheated and let down.
Writing your life story can be hugely cathartic, and rewarding and can be a great way to become a successful writer too. So if you think your life story is worth telling, follow the tips above and get started today!
It feels a little weird to be posting this, since I've already begun doing what is talked about in this post. it might have been better if I had seen this beforehand. But it seems as if I had already known most of these steps, as I seem to have followed most of them. Though one of the things suggested under "Do your research" I have not done. When I began, I was apprehensive of using real names of people, which I eventually did not do. But I have not tried asking them if the events do in fact, match up. I have been suspicious that many of them won't remember any such events, or will try to deny that the said events ever happened (sort of where the poetic license part comes in.) Some people just don't remember that things far back! Who knows, though? I did look through old journals of mine for some events, so some research done there.
I did some embellishing of details as well, but still held them as close to the truth as possible. I've been honest with most of it all.
As far as organizing details goes, I chose to go by theme rather than chronologically. It just seems to come to me that way, so I stuck with it. One person I've known all my life pointed out this "jumping around" when she read my initial draft of the story, and tried suggesting following a timeline. But they way I saw it, that would take a lot of reworking. I know that reworking and rewriting is a part of writing, but I felt it was written the way I wanted it and would leave it as such, as far the order of details were presented.
And one last thing, I'm not sure a memoir counts as a Life story," since most of them focus on a "slice of life," as the memoir class instructor pointed out in the class I took last summer. There were plenty of other things i could have told, but didn't, because I did not think they were necessary to what I was trying to present.