Your life is completely and utterly unique. Nobody has lived your exact experiences or spent time inside your head. Whether you’re 35 or 75, you’ve collected memories to share with others. The next step is learning how to use those memories and write a memoir.
Unlike an autobiography, which is the story of your life from birth to present, a memoir is a book that offers lessons, insights, and themes based around your own experiences. It’s a snapshot in time, not the full, detailed explanation of your entire existence.
In this way, a memoir isn’t necessarily about you, but rather about using your story to add value to the lives of your readers.
Why a Memoir is a Great Side Gig
You don’t need to be famous to write a great memoir! Sure, it seems like everybody in Hollywood and beyond has released at least one memoir, and they certainly have the stories to tell.
But you also have stories that you can share, regardless of what you do for a living or how you earn income. Writing a memoir is an exciting and valuable side gig because you can chip away at it, a page, or chapter a night. Thanks to the rise in popularity of self-published ebooks, you don’t even need to stress over the physical distribution of your memoir. You can simply create it and share it as the gift that it is.
Tips for Writing Your Story
Though there’s no single formula for writing a successful memoir, these tips will lead you in the right direction and keep you on track.
1. Narrow Your Focus
If your life represents an entire pie, then your memoir should only encompass a single piece of the pie. The best memoirs describe a snapshot in time, one that holds significance and meaning.
It may not even be one single calendar day or year, but a collection of memories all linked by the same overarching event: homelessness, addiction, loss, or unlikely success.
2. Find Your Themes
Most memoirs circle back to the same underlying message: “You are not alone. I overcame this or achieved this, and so can you.”
The feeling of connection and commonality is what really appeals to readers. All people share the need for love, food, and shelter. They all fear loss, abandonment, and loneliness. And they all respond to stories that explore the depths of those themes.
Through your theme, you can showcase your personal growth and inspire others who want to do the same. Don’t be afraid of the introspection and brutal honesty required for this task. It’s all a part of the writing process.
3. Remain Honest
You don’t want your memoir tinged by accusations of dishonesty, especially if it’s done to throw someone under the bus. Remain honest, tactful, and real. Expose your own foibles, failures, and weaknesses to the world, but don’t drag others down with you. Not only does it go against common decency, but it puts you at risk of a lawsuit.
You can still add the “grit” to your story by changing names and certain details to protect the identity of the people who serve as your story’s true villains.