Why you should write your memoir

Not everyone is a fan of writing, and I get it.

It’s not the easiest process to stare at a blinking cursor, trying to find words that make sense. Sometimes you’re just not interested in the topic, and you have to force yourself to churn out sentences. Haven’t you had to go through the miserable process of writing a paper for your least-favorite class?

But as the saying goes, write what you know. When you follow that saying and write what you know, you may find that the words come naturally; you may find that you can’t get the words to stop; you may find that it’s actually enjoyable and maybe even addicting.

To follow that saying, start with writing about your own life because who knows your life better than you?

Start small. Write down a few of the funniest, saddest or most memorable stories. It’ll be something you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

After you get your feet wet, go bigger. Try writing a chapter from your memoir. Which story is worth expanding? Where do you want to add more?

After that, maybe you’ll be ready to write the entire memoir.

If you do, it may actually end up being an enlightening, reflective journey that could change the way you view your past.

In Magazine Writing, I was tasked with writing one chapter of my memoir. I had some pretty traumatic events happen a few months ago in my family, and I had never really taken the time to process it all. I figured this would be a good chance, and I knew that what happened would make a good story.

As soon as I sat down to write, the words just came pouring out of me. The first draft read like a journal entry, but a few hours of revisions and tweaking got it to read just like any other memoir that I’ve read before. I had turned my personal story into a relatable story with universal themes.

Patti Hall from the Huffington Post gives 12 reasons for why you should write your memoir. Some of my favorite reasons are listed below:

  • To find you

What better way to learn more about yourself than through reflection? Writing about your past allows you to process events that may have had a bigger impact on you than you realized. In the moment, you tend to just move on; however, when you write, you have to chance to go back and relive.

  • To find the next step on your path

Our pasts often lead us into our futures. For example, if something traumatic happened to you, you may be inspired to help others avoid similar tragedies. On the other hand, you may be inspired to go in the opposite direction, avoiding similar traumatic situations and negative people.

  • Because you’re bound to learn something

Whether you learn something about yourself, your family members or your friends, reflecting on the past may reveal things you didn’t see before. You may develop a better understanding of your life and those who are in your life.

  • To feel better

As I mentioned, I wrote my memoir after a traumatic experience. It was a therapeutic process. At times, I cried and felt angry, but once my memoir was complete, I had really come to terms with what happened. I felt like I had a better handle on my emotions toward the situation.

  • To pass on some enlightenment

Looking back on your life allows you to see where things may have gone wrong. Your story may help someone else avoid making the same mistakes.

Storytelling is an ancient practice. Every culture has used stories to entertain, educate, and pass on beliefs and morals. So continue the practice by telling your story. Pass on your life to the next generation because they’re likely to learn something from what you have to say.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?

* * *

My Favorite Memoirs

Read them!!!

My favorite memoirs have covered all kinds of topics, but what all the memoirs had in common was that they all told great stories. I highly recommend the following memoirs. None of them are long, difficult reads, and all of the stories will suck you in from the start.

Glass Castle

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

 Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever. Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home. What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

 Both Sides of the Line

“Both Sides of the Line” by Kevin Kelly

High school players in a working class neighborhood of the 1970s gain desperately needed structure and guidance from Jack “Clyde” Dempsey, a scrappy, charismatic coach who seems like nothing more than a football geek. But “Coach” also happens to be the toughest guy on the streets of Boston, with a temper to match, and it’s his secret life as a mob enforcer/collector that forces him to flee the country, becoming one of America’s most wanted. In this memoir, a devoted Dempsey disciple, who later becomes a dean at a world private school outside Boston, tries thirty-five years later to understand his former coach, role model, and mentor—both his good side and his very dark side—and Dempsey’s impact in his own life. A COMPLETELY TRUE STORY.

The Missing Kennedy

“The Missing Kennedy” by Elizabeth Koehlor-Pentacoff

Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family. Elizabeth Koehler was born in 1957, the first and only child of a struggling Wisconsin farm family. What, besides their religion, did these two very different Catholic women have in common? One person: Stella Koehler, a charismatic woman of the cloth who became Sister Paulus Koehler after taking her vows with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. Sister Paulus was Elizabeth’s Wisconsin aunt. For thirty-five years indeed much of her adult life Sister Paulus was Rosie Kennedy’s caregiver. And a caregiver, tragically, had become necessary after Rosie, a slow learner prone to emotional outbursts, underwent one of America’s first lobotomies an operation Joseph Kennedy was assured would normalize Rosie’s life. It did not. Rosie’s condition became decidedly worse. After the procedure, Joe Kennedy sent Rosie to rural Wisconsin and Saint Coletta, a Catholic-run home for the mentally disabled. For the next two decades, she never saw her siblings, her parents, or any other relative, the doctors having issued stern instructions that even the occasional family visit would be emotionally disruptive to Rosie. Following Joseph Kennedy’s stroke in 1961, the Kennedy family, led by mother Rose and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resumed face to face contact with Rosie. It was also about then that a young Elizabeth Koehler began paying visits to Rosie. In this insightful and poignant memoir, based in part on Sister Paulus’ private notes and augmented by over one-hundred never-before-seen photos, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff recalls the many happy and memorable times spent with the missing Kennedy.

Please note, all of the above summaries were taken from Amazon.com


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