Where Do You Start Your Memoir?

It’s a quandary: where do you start writing your memoir? Many people may say: from the beginning. But, I don’t think that is the best place to start composing…

The answer is actually quite simple: Start writing your memoir anywhere in the story you feel like writing about on any given day and keep writing as long as you wish to do so. Then, if the topic ceases to interest you and you would like to write about something else, go ahead and do so. Write about the new story line even if you haven’t finished the previous one. You are connecting to your muse at this point!

Memoirs are really collected musings that are woven seamlessly. Think about it: if you wrote 3 pages a day-in any order-for 100 days you would have three hundred pages of manuscript. You would then organize the stories and vignettes-most people do so chronologically. Inevitably there will be many transitional stories missing. These you will then write in and insert in their proper place in the manuscript.

Only you will know that the vignette between pages 179 and 184 was written first of all the stories; the reader will not even suspect it. For the reader, the memoir will begin on page one! While this is certainly not always the case, the beginning of the memoir, the place that more than any other in the book, creates a tone to the story, may have been written last. In fact, writing or re-writing the first chapter of your memoir is frequently the last thing you do in the writing of your book.

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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