How Do You Write a Memoir?

How to give good memoir (otherwise known as Top tips for memoir writing.)

*get a life. You cannot write a memoir unless you live an interesting life. Live it. Live it the best way you can. Try to fit the writing around it. If you spend all your time writing about your life, life will be dull and your writing will be duller.
*find yourself fascinating. This one is hard because – best will in the world – the kind of people who find themselves fascinating tend to be the kind of people you don’t want to be around. Nonetheless you have to overcome your scruples and find yourself interesting enough to write about, and talk about when someone asks you what you are writing about. And not mind when they sidle away really fast.
*find everyone else fascinating too. This is not as hard as finding yourself interesting because everybody has a story. The trick is to be interested enough to find out what it is. Don’t judge someone. Get to know what they have to say – it is very probably worth hearing.
*having said “get a life” sometimes it is all in the writing. Don’t presume because you are writing about something that has happened a gazillion times before that you can just knock it off without thinking about the words and how they fit together. Words count – who knew?
*it isn’t necessarily about the outside that is to say, what you do, it is also about what and how you think, and ofcourse – everytime – about how you feel. A memoir is not a book of events.
*remember a memoir is about Life, not just your life, real life.
*unless you are willing to be honest and reveal who you are, you might as well write a novel.(Obviously you can also be honest and reveal who you are in a novel, there is just an outside chance you won’t have to.)
*if you care too much about what people think, you might as well not write at all.

(I’ve lifted this from my Wife in the North blog, because I’ve written two memoirs now as well as teaching a course at Newcastle University and so many people talk to me about wanting to write their own stories but feel daunted. At some point, I’ll put up a list of good memoirs which I’d suggest you read if you want to go ahead and write your own.)


Second Time Around

April 2017.

I’ve blogged before. That is to say I ain’t no blogging virgin. My first blog Wife in the North did that viral thing of zero to 60 in a matter of days. That I have to say was a weird time. Your palms get a little bit sweaty when you realise you are filing reports from your life and they are being read all over the world just seconds after you heedlessly press Send. I’m older now and frankly the internet has changed since those heady days when blogs were the next big thing. There’s so much more content out there yet it’s so hard to find anything you actually want to read. Or is that just me? I log on and I do a quick tour of the news and websites I like, do a few clickthroughs then I’m done. But there is no ‘must read’, no excitement about the kind of writing you just happen upon, the lives you get to know. Now and then someone says blogging is dead, and everyone nods. But I don’t think it matters what you call it and what form it takes – 140 characters, here and then gone again, arty photographs of breakfast – everyone wants to tell their story. Everyone wants to think someone is listening.