- Keep a notebook on every tble in your living quarters.
- Jot down everything you rmember about your past, even if it may seem trivial.
- Spend quiet time remembering the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of stories and details from your past. This will include names, places, evts, relationships, etc.
- Jot down even small details abot a house you lived in, your favorite birthday present, the family pet if you had one (what color was your birthday dress, what did your puppy look like and what was its name?), etc.
- If you are married or have a Significant Other, how did you meet your partner?
- If you’ve had many rok’n’ roll rlationships, ask yourself what you leared from each; tell thestories with all their bitter-sweet details. Use the writing thnies you’ve gleaned from other chapters in this book to develop your caracters,setting, plot, dialogue, description, etc.
- Describe family holidays.
- DO NOT start your mmoirs with: “I was born on (date) n (location). Please do not start at the beginnn! If you want to bore your readers, be chronolgical and take them through all the detais of your first baby ooth, firt haircut, first baby portrait… NO! NO! That is NOT the way to write a memoir!
TURN ON THE JUICE!
Start with a juicy story. Is it wicked? I hope so! Maybe you want to tell the story about that time you stole the family car to meet your girlfriend and you got caught by your dad…
Is your story about the time you thought you’d never make the cheerleading squad because of the braces on your teeth, and you discovered that six other contestants also wore braces?
Or is it about that stormy night in Michigan when your car got stuck in a snowdrift and the man who came to help shovel you out became your future husband?
Maybe it’s about your fifth birthday when you received some watercolor paints and a pad; as soon as you picked up the paintbrush and dipped it into the water and paints, you knew, just knew you were going to become an artist...
Go to the pulse of your life and start your memoirs there. Let’s repeat that:
Go to the pulse. Write from the pulse.
The heart of the story is what really turns you on… and if YOU are excited about it, everyone else will be, too.
Here are some suggested highlights that could trigger great memories for that opening chapter:
- A birthday party… something humorous or magical that happened
- Your first date
- The first ime you were kised or you kissed a boy or girl
- The proudest moments in your life
- Tragedies that provided motvation and inspiraton
- Pet peeves and why
- Greatest lessons larned
- Family vacations
- Humorous school xperiences, including bloopers
- Family relatives… some of teir idiosyncrasies
- Self-portrait at different ages and stages of development
From this list you should have a general idea of how to proceed.
PRETEND YOU ARE A WRITER… AND BEGIN
Write as if your reader is sitting across from you. Or maybe you’re having coffee together. They are your best friend, someone you can easily talk to. Or, maybe you have grandchildren and you’re writing these memoirs for them. Pretend you’re seated on a comfy sofa in front of the fireplace and all six of your grandchildren are cuddled around you, waiting for you to begin. They can’t wait to hear those amazing stories from your past!
Don’t be concerned about grammar, usage, spelling, etc. Just get it down in a drafted document on the computer. Or if you write by hand or on a word processor, that’s okay, too. Just get it down somewhere so it can be saved in a file. You can even use a recorder if that’s easier, and have someone transcribe the sessions onto the computer.
Enjoy laughing out loud, or keep a box of tissues handy when you feel like crying. These emotional barometers are signals that you’re hitting home with who you are and what you’re burning to convey to your readers.
ADD GRAPHICS, PHOTOS… SPRUCE UP YOUR MEMOIRS!
Be creative. Choose photos from your albums, for example, and tell the stories of these friends, relatives, business partners, etc. Today the digital publishing process for including photos in books is very inexpensive. You can choose to have a full- color or black-and-white interior. Digital publishing also allows you to print copies as you go. This lowers the cost considerably. Also, if you wish to make your book into a holiday gift for different groups of people, you can create customized dedication pages and develop different print setups for each group.
TEST THE WATERS
Test your writings by reading them aloud to someone who doesn’t know you well. Do NOT read them to family members or close friends. They’ll always tell you they’re great.
Choose someone who loves to read and who would enjoy hearing an excerpt. Tell them beforehand that this is just a draft. You’re just asking them to be a barometer for you. Is your instinct correct that this is as funny as you think it is? Is it as strong as you believe, or can you make it more powerful? Do you need more description? More facts?
AND…. Have you whetted their appetites so they want to read or hear more? That is the real litmus test.
USE GHOSTWRITERS, BOOK DOCTORS AND EDITORS
If you are thoroughly enjoying the process of writing your memoirs but feel you would like to have some professional help—great!! I share your enthusiasm and would love to help you achieve your goals.
Whether you wish to publish your memoirs or simply put them in the best possible form for friends and family to enjoy as your gift to them, I can help you.
Ahhh! Good! Now that load is taken off your shoulders! You will have a book that is professionally written and it will still be yours. Some of the best writers in the business—professional writers who are top-selling authors—use ghostwriters, book doctors or editors.
You may already have learned that many best-selling books are not the products of the person whose by-line appears on the cover. In fact, may well-known fiction works are corporate board room projects.
The reason I mention this is to make sure you do not feel any guilt or shame in using professional writers to complete your work.
The other option is to work closely with a book coach or tutor who will show you how to make the changes yourself and guide you through the entire process. Many writers achieve great satisfaction in working with this type of mentor.
However you choose to complete your book of memoirs, let me reassure you that it is well worth the effort. “Your Story” is an important legacy for future generations.
Whatever you do, enjoy the process—and know that I’m here to help you, every step of the way.