Writing memoirs has become a popular trend. Back when I was publishing books for other authors, it seemed like most of my inquiries came from people wanting to write their memoirs. My advice today is the same as what I gave back then. Ask yourself what is it about your life story that’s so compelling that other people would want to read it? It’s a question you need to answer honestly before proceeding any further.
Our life’s journey is certainly interesting to us. After all, we’re the star of our own show, but I want to be brutally honest here. No one, other than your immediate family, and perhaps your closest friends, really cares about how wonderful your spouse is or how smart your kids are. Nor does anyone really care about the details of every little thing you did on your cruise to Hawaii. That’s what journals are for, and a journal isn’t a memoir.
What’s the difference between a journal and a memoir?
A journal is a personal diary. They’re typically written by hand in specially made notebooks called journals, and they’re written for the author’s own enjoyment. For many, their journals are both private and deeply personal. A memoir on the other hand is a personal story written to share with others.
So who should write a memoir?
Have you overcome an obstacle that was beyond the ordinary? For instance, have you survived a violent crime? Did you survive an accident or disease that would have been fatal to most people? Have you traveled to some faraway, exotic destination, such as Antarctica, which few will ever see? Were you ever a first responder? Were you ever in showbiz? Have you had some other extraordinary life experience which few people ever will? Most importantly, would your story be an inspiration to others? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then perhaps you should give some thought to writing a memoir.
People read books because they want to be entertained or inspired, or because they want to learn something new. In other words, there has to be something in it for the reader. Your memoir should be a story that inspires others, and perhaps changes people’s lives for the better.