The four memoir rules

Memoir rules

Although life blesses many people with decades to experience and enjoy, time is fleeting. In the blink of an eye, a moment stops. A year ends, a milestone passes, and before you know it, you’re at the edge of life. Oblivion is difficult to grasp, as it can be quite terrifying—the idea of one day being forgotten is an unwelcome thought, but others have figured out a way to imprint their souls forever—through a memoir.

A memoir is one of the most compelling and permanent ways to capture one’s life, complete with details of emotions and life events that have taken place throughout the years. Writing a memoir can be a self-orientated experience, but if you wish to publish your memoir, there are memoir rules to follow.

Here’s how you can make your life story a more enjoyable experience for your audience:

1 You are writing a memoir, not an autobiography

Before beginning your memoir, you must first understand you are not writing an autobiography. A memoir focuses on specific aspects of your life, be it a turning point, a devastating moment, and essentially any memory of special significance. An autobiography focuses on every aspect of your life, much like a history book brimming with in-depth information.

A memoir, on the other hand, is a moment so engaging you wish to share it with the world. It is usually something your audiences won’t easily forget. To ensure you get the content of your memoir right, first choose a theme. If you’re writing about something traumatic, your story should exude messages of resilience, hope and courage. On the other hand, if your story shares an uplifting or inspiring moment, express your delight in a way that triggers an emotional response in your readers.

2 Focus less on details and more on purpose and meaning

The more you focus on vivid sensory memories and emotions the more captivating our memoir will be. Again, remember you’re not writing an autobiography—you’re writing about joy, hope, courage and resilience—emotions that encompass every wonderful thing that makes you and your readers human.

Be careful to avoid focusing too much on irrelevant details as they reduce the potency of your theme. If your memoir is about overcoming a traumatic accident, for instance, talking about a summer festival your best friends went to without you won’t matter to the story. It won’t be relevant to the situation you’re painting with words, no matter how meaningful it may be to you personally. Limit yourself to sharing those aspects of your life that fit with the wider story you wish to convey.

3 Honesty is crucial

While writing your memoir you may be tempted to put on rose-coloured glasses and look past your flaws and faults. This is not a good idea. You may ask, ‘Why not? It’s the story of my life so why shouldn’t I present my best self to the world?’ Well, the downside is it renders your memoir biased and self-indulgent—a turn-off for readers. Remember, you need to sound human—that means honestly admitting your weaknesses and flaws and showcasing your strengths in a balanced way that resonates with readers.

4 Writing A Memoir That Inspires

While the primary goal of writing a memoir is to help keep your memories alive, publishing it allows your story to become a beacon of hope for many people. Writing a memoir requires an open and critical mind, one that can weave a clear message for people to learn from.

Focusing on meaning and honesty ensures your readers get the most out of your story—they’re reading for a reason. Be it comfort or inspiration, this is your opportunity to leave far more than your story to the world.

These memoir rules should help guide you in writing your memoir, but writing a memoir can be a difficult endeavour. Storytellers at Life Stories Australia are ready to help. We understand how important it is to keep your memories intact, preserving them for the rest of the world to experience. Allow one of our members to help you craft a memoir worth reading. Reach out to us today!

Gabriella Kelly-Davies

Founder Share Your Life Story

Vice-President Life Stories Australia