1. Write chronologically. On revision you can choose to mix things up, but for the rough draft, write your memoir chronologically. It’s so much easier to write that way, to remember the details. And you’ll be amazed by what memories come to you as you unfold the map of your life, year by year.
2. For the traumatic events, GIGO, Get In and Get Out. You’re probably writing a memoir to explore painful events from your past. Writing your memoir means revisiting trauma, but there’s no reason to make it a LONG visit. Just write it down and get out. Otherwise invoking the trauma could cause writer’s block.
3. Don’t let anyone in your family read it. Anyone. Show it to strangers for their feedback before you show it to the people who may want at all costs to keep you quiet.
4. Don’t forget setting. Write about and research the city, village, landscape where the memoir is based. We are much more products of our environment than we realize. You’ll find amazing echoes between your life and the landscape.
5. Expect to have times in writing the memoir where the memories get overwhelming and you need to take a break. Take the break, but don’t give up. Writers who’ve had years of therapy still find it overwhelming to write their memoirs.
Writing a memoir is profoundly healing and well worth every amount of effort that goes into the process.
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