How to Write a Memoir By Lisa Montalto

When most people think about writing a story about themselves, they confuse the terms memoir and autobiography. One main difference is how the story is structured. Autobiographies are typically chronological, whereas a memoir can take an array of events and mix them up to help drive a larger story idea. The memoir can build on what could be a coming-of-age tale, self-discovery, etc. Autobiographies recount everything in one’s life, while a memoir focuses on specific times and select events.

Another major difference between a memoir and an autobiography is style. A memoir prioritizes the experience, but an autobiography focuses on the order of events. The experience is based more on feelings, reflections, and thoughts … things that give the story an emotional charge. Autobiographies take the reader on a journey from birth to present, and sometimes death.

Once you’ve decided that a memoir is the way you want to share your story, crafting your memoir is typically much easier than writing a fictional book. With fiction, you have to invent every character and detail, but since everything that happened in your memoir is true and every character existed in real life, it’s really a job of recalling events.

A great place to start is by selecting the time period that you want to focus on and then documenting facts in an outline. Write down memories that are highly charged with emotion, drama, or that are life changing. Stories about times that shaped your life and brought you to where you are today make great memoirs. The beauty of a memoir is that you do not have to start the story at the beginning of your life and trudge through until present day.

Once you have your outline, you’re ready to write your first draft. Remember that a first draft is just that, a first try. It’s all about getting the story out of your head. Before attempting a second draft, many top authors suggest taking a few days to a week, or maybe even a month, between writing your first draft and starting your second draft. This allows you to read it with a fresh eye. When you reread your draft, keep track of the things that work and things that don’t. Ask yourself questions such as, “Can this be more developed?” “Is this completely unnecessary?” or “Am I conveying the story that I want to tell?” Asking these questions will ease the revision process and even help you find new things to add to your memoir.

After your second or third draft meets your standards in structure and storytelling, editing comes next. You’ll want to focus on word usage, metaphors, scene settings, the omission of unnecessary words, dialogue, and more. This will polish your memoir and make it ready to be published. Most highly successful authors say that they end up with many drafts before they settle on the final one. Once you edit, you’re ready to get it out there to the world.

An important thing to keep in mind during this process is that not everyone is a writer. You have the story and all the information in your memories, but you may not have enough experience in writing books to produce the kind of memoir you want. And that’s okay because there are many highly-skilled writers out there that specialize in memoirs who can write it for you.

Most authors will hesitate to hire an outside writer because they believe the whole goal of a memoir is to write it themselves. This is not necessarily true. In fact, do you know that an extremely high percentage of memoirs that you’ve probably read are not written by the actual author, themselves? People like Michael Jordan hire writers to write their stories.

Now you might be thinking they’ve got the money for that, but hiring a writer doesn’t have to impact your wallet as much as you think. You may also be thinking that you want to be credited as the author of your memoir. There’s a way to not only get your memoir written for a great price but you can also retain the writing credits and be listed as the author.

How? By hiring a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is in essence an invisible writer. They will work behind the scenes while giving full credit in your memoir. They have the skills to write a professional piece that looks like you were the author. It’s the best of both worlds.

Finding a reputable ghostwriter who specializes in memoir writing services will take some research or you can use a ghostwriting service company, such as Ghostwriters Central who fully vet all ghostwriters and will help you select the best writer for your project. Some ghostwriters specialize in specific genres and styles, and Ghostwriters Central will match you with the writer who will make your work shine.