First time writer? Writing your memoir is possible.
Yes, it is possible — even if you don’t have a ‘proper’ education. Even if you’ve never written anything before. Even if you’re not sure about where all the punctuation goes in a sentence.
There are so many things we think could stop us writing our story. The truth is, we can do almost anything when we find the right tools, the right teacher, and the right encouragement and support.
Sometimes I get requests from people who want to tell their stories, but they don’t feel able to do it themselves. They think they should get someone else to do the writing part for them, so they ask me to do it.
“Can you ghostwrite my story for me?” they ask.
The question makes me sad. Because I firmly believe that you are the very best person to tell your own story.
When you do the writing, it’s your life. It’s your voice. It’s you, on the page.
Plus, you get the emotional and personal rewards that come from doing it. And don’t doubt — those rewards are considerable.
You need the right tools
You need to know how to start thinking about your story: what it is, and what it isn’t. You need to know the things that every memoir needs, and the things you can leave out.
You need some basics on planning your story out, what to put where, and what goes in each chapter.
You need to know what to put into your sentences so that people will want to read them. You’ll need to know how to write dialogue, and what kind of dialogue to write.
You need the right teacher
We humans are a funny old bunch. We do better when there’s someone on our team, cheering us on. We need to know that we can ask them questions and not feel stupid. We want to know that someone has our back, for when we feel discouraged.
To write your memoir, you’ll need someone who’s done it before you and who knows the process.
You’ll need someone who can put it into simple language and make it obvious to even the least ‘writerish’ kind of person.
A Write Your Memoir course makes it possible
You could go to the library and check out a book on how to write Your memoir, but if you’re really going to commit to doing the work and telling your story, my best suggestion is to do a course.
Having course materials to work through gives you all of the tools you need - step by step planning tools, writing skills, and time management tips.
Having a teacher there in front of you in a classroom, or, if it’s an online course, at the end of an email or on Facebook lets you ask all the questions you need. You’ll know you’re on the right track, and you can get your worries sorted out very quickly.
What course is best?
The great wide world of the internet will take you to a variety of Write Your Memoir courses. To make your decision, you’ll need to look at:
Price — what’s affordable for you, given your situation and how much you want to invest in your writing? Is it good value for what you get?
Location — is the course near you, if it’s an on-location course. Do the dates suit? Otherwise you may need to consider an online course, where you can work at your own pace, contacting your teacher via email and social media.
Personality — Do you like the instructor? They might have a voice that grates, or they might not smile enough… or too much. It’s important to feel an affinity with the teacher, and to ‘get’ them, and feel that they ‘get’ you. Do you ‘vibe’ with the teacher?
Complexity — Are you looking for a course that covers a great deal of material in depth, or are you more interested in learning exactly what you need to know without extra fluff?
Results — Are there happy customers who are willing to talk about their experiences in the course? Does it rate well? Have people finished their memoirs after going through the course?
Support — What extra support does the course offer? Could you meet up with course participants, or meet on a facebook page for example?
When you’re making your decision, here are some courses to consider:
Writers Digest University: Memoir 101 — A good basics course from a reputable site.
Write Your Memoir in Six Months — Promises to deliver within a time frame, which may be useful if you’re keen to get the project over and done with.
Write Your Memoir in Paris — super fun if you can afford it.
Memoir with Marion Roach Smith — Great teaching here, but it becomes more costly as you move through.
Write Your Memoir: Pay What You Can — designed for people who’ve never written before: it gives you everything you need to know and nothing you dont… and it’s immensely affordable at ‘Pay What You Can Afford’.