Thanks for the MemoirsYou don’t have to be famous to write about your life. A memoir could be of great interest to your friends and family, perhaps even a treasured heirloom for future descendants. But where do you start? Cate Luck, a homeowner at Bath Gate Place in Cirencester, explains why she decided to give it a go.
When Cate’s parents died about 20 years ago, there were still so many questions she wanted to ask them. To avoid the same regret for her own children, she decided to write a memoir.
While Cate has written some very long letters in the past (one was 52 pages!), she has never attempted anything this big. But her love of research has kept her motivated. She finds it exciting to picture all the things she has done, and she’s been amazed by the amount of detail that’s come back to her, especially names.
Cate looks forward to writing every day, and rather than aiming for a set word goal, she simply enjoys the process of recalling all the ‘lovely little things’ she had forgotten about.
The biggest challenges? Not repeating yourself, getting dates right and forgetting to charge your iPad or laptop. She also recommends devising an overall plan before starting. Cate is currently up to 17,000 words and still going strong...We’re sure her children – and their children, too – will appreciate her efforts!
Top tips for writing a memoir
Choose your theme:
What distinguishes a memoir is its overarching idea or message. What’s the one key thing you want the reader to take away?
List relevant memories:
Once you’ve got your theme, take time to list all the memories that relate to it.
Put your personality in to it:
Most importantly, let your own distinct voice ring through every page.
Show, don’t tell:
The best way to evoke an era is to describe it in terms of sights, sounds and smells. Create a vibrant world that your reader can explore.
Rather than simply telling random anecdotes, each story should connect to and support your overarching theme.
Dig deep and show how the most challenging and painful experiences have made you who you are today.
When describing your own life, it’s tempting to add a positive spin, but what the reader wants is warts and all!