Don't Write Your Memoir Alone


04/02/12


Many people believe that writing a memoir involves heading out to the woods alone for six months and emerging with a shiny glowing manuscript.

Believe it or not, there is a better way.

In a certain sense, a memoir is like a fire. If you keep fire enclosed and cut off its source of oxygen, the fire dies out. So too with a memoir, if you keep it locked up in your computer and never share it, you're headed for disaster.

Based on our research, most people who start a memoir don't actually finish it. These are people who love their family just like you, and want to pass down their family stories with the same fervor that you do. However, many fall victim to a terrible disease that I like to call the rookie author syndrome.

Rookie authors believe that the hard part of writing a book is the actual writing. Experienced authors know that sharing what you wrote, and opening yourself up to the possibility that not everyone likes it, can be far more difficult than actually writing the book! That's why so many rookie authors have a book they've finished sitting on their computers with nobody having ever read it.

The same thing happens with many memoir writers. They start writing, and then give up after a minor setback. This is what happened to my grandmother. None of us knew she was writing a memoir until we found 15 pages worth of stories after she passed away.

Luckily there is a simple trick you can use that will ensure that you do not suffer from rookie author syndrome. Share your stories as you write them.

This strategy benefits all parties concerned. Say your memoir is comprised of fifty stories. Think about how much nicer it would be for your kids if, instead of getting a book at the end, they got to anxiously await each new story. Then after reading each story, they could discuss it with you, and reminisce about old times. They could recommend new story ideas, and help keep you motivated when you don't feel like writing. Instead of being passive onlookers, they get to participate and enjoy this process actively with you. It becomes a wonderful family bonding experience.

For you, your memoir gets the oxygen it needs to flourish. Sharing one day's worth of work is orders of magnitude easier than sharing a years worth of work. Since you are getting consistent feedback and encouragement from your family, you don't need to worry about their reaction. Also, knowing your family and friends are anxiously awaiting your memoir is a great encouragement to keep you motivated and happy as you are writing.

This is why one of the most important features of Memoir Place is the ability to instantly share your stories with you family as you finish them.

Whether you use Memoir Place or not, you should not be working on your memoir alone. Involving your family and friends not only greatly increases your chances of success, but it makes the process so much more enjoyable.

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


No Pressure Memoirs


02/29/12


Some people feel a lot of anxiety about writing their memoirs. They worry it won’t be good enough, that they’re not writing fast enough, that they’re writing too fast. They think they should be in the mood to write their memoirs more often than they are.

One of the keys to success in this whole process of working on your memoir is doing it on your terms. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to a memoir. Just like every single person is different, everyone will create their memoir in a different way.

Some might find that it’s best if they devote a certain time each week to their memoir. Some might find that it’s better if they work only when inspiration strikes. Both of these strategies are perfectly acceptable.

In the end, this whole process is about you. You can figure out what works best for you, and there’s nothing wrong with whatever you end up deciding.

Don’t feel pressure. Don’t feel like your memoir needs to be complete by a certain date or a certain time. If you are experiencing writers block, don’t worry about it! If you don’t feel like writing, don’t write! These are your memoirs, not anyone else’s. Make sure they are making you happy.

And always remember, no matter what you do, your family will think it’s amazing.

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


Enjoy The Memoir Process


02/01/12


People like to think that the enjoyment you get from your memoir is all at the end. You put in an enormous amount of work, and one day you’re eventually done, and you feel great.

Although it works for some, spending months or years working on a huge project in isolation often leads to a loss of enthusiasm and eventual burnout. This is why, based on our research, the majority of people who start memoir projects never finish them.

If you want to avoid the traps that snare so many other memoir writers, you should create ways to stay happy and motivated during the process of creating your memoir.

At Memoir Place, we do this by moving most of the payoff away from the finishing of your memoir, and into the process of creating your memoir. Instead of your family and friends getting presented with a final product that took months or years of work, send them an update whenever you finish a story.

This is great for your family, because they get to be a part of the experience with you. They’ll learn new things about you, and it will bring the family together.

It will also be great for you. You’ll get feedback that will help you improve. Also, your friends and family will remind you of countless interesting stories that you absolutely must include.

By sharing each story, and implementing other techniques to make the process of working on your memoir enjoyable, you are stacking the odds in your favor. You’ll have more fun, and in the end, isn’t that what this is all about?

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


Make Your Memoir Project Easy


01/17/12


A memoir project is not something that you have a lot of experience with, and why would you? You were probably not a professional writer or journalist. Writing a memoir requires a particular set of skills that most people haven’t had a lot of practice with.

Like most things in life, a memoir project can be done the easy way or the hard way. To make your memoir project more enjoyable, I highly recommend choosing the easy way at every opportunity.

This will look different for each person. Some people might have difficulty writing long stories and always feel guilty that the stories are too short. Some people will write stories they feel are too long, and feel discouraged that they can’t shorten them. Some will feel like they can never find the perfect adjectives, and some will feel that they don’t write often enough.
Stop getting hung up on details, and make things easy! You are not writing something to be #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. You’re memoir project is something to give to your kids and grandkids. Enjoy it!

If you enjoy writing stories about your childhood, but not about your career, then write a bunch of stories about your childhood. If you like writing in short spurts, don’t force yourself to sit down for long writing sessions. Don’t get caught up in what you feel you’re supposed to do, as if such a thing actually existed. Focus on what you enjoy, and your memoir project will be more successful, and more enjoyable.

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


Start Your Memoir Now


01/05/12


When I speak with people who want to write their memoir but haven’t, they are often not able to figure out where to start. People feel that they need to have a grandiose plan of exactly what their memoir is going to look like before even writing the first word.

My advice has always been to stop worrying about the plan and just start writing. Write one story every other week, and after two or three months, sit back, and think about how these stories will fit into an overall memoir plan.

The benefits of this approach are many. Firstly, it can often be more difficult to start something than it is to keep going. The act of starting to write a memoir can significantly increase the probability that you will finish.

Additionally, unless you are a professional memoir writer or personal historian, the plans you make before starting to write will not be very good. The information you use to come up with your plan would be from how you imagine writing will be, which will be different from how writing actually is. Once you have two or three months experience actually writing, you will be in a much better position to plan out the remainder of your memoir project.

If you want to start your memoir, just get started. Think of a fun story and write it down. Then do it again. Before you know it, you’ll have a memoir!

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


Your Most Important Memoir Tool


12/30/11


When writing a memoir, story ideas will strike at random times. You will be driving to the store when suddenly, you remember an amazing story that you absolutely must put in your memoir.

At that point you are going to be in desperate need of the most important memoir writing tool: a notebook.

Sadly, the ideas that you think of will be gone quite soon. Scientific research has shown that people can generally hold seven to nine things in their head at any one time. As an interesting side note, this is why telephone numbers are seven digits long. As soon as you think about seven other things, your amazing idea will be gone from your mind; unless you write it down.

So, to make sure you don’t forget your best ideas, you should always have something nearby where you can write down your memoir ideas.

It can be something simple like a small notepad, or for those who have them, most smartphones have a note taking application that you can use.

Wherever you are, whenever you have an idea, just take out your notebook, write it down, and be confident that you can get to it later.

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


Perfection Is The Enemy of Priceless


11/29/11


You might think that writing a memoir is near impossible. To sum up all your life experiences and lessons in a short book is something that only the most talented writer can accomplish. We mortals who haven’t spent our careers writing books wouldn’t even know where to start, and therefore, we generally don’t.

This line of thinking is absurd. I want to permanently remove it from your head.

The most talented author in the world can’t even come close to writing a complete summation of your life and lessons. Life is too complex to be completely described in a book.

Logically, we know this. James Joyce needed 783 pages to describe an ordinary day of an ordinary man in Ulysses. Describing your entire life in just a few hundred pages is simply impossible. Yet many people think this is the goal of writing a memoir.

Knowing this, how can you write the perfect memoir? You can’t. No person has ever written a perfect memoir, and none ever will. Every person who has ever successfully completed a memoir has realized that perfection is impossible, perfection is for suckers, and perfection is the enemy of priceless.

Priceless are the smiles of your kids and grandkids, knowing that future generations will understand where they came from, remembering all the amazing things you have done in your life, developing deeper bonds with your family, and making the process of writing your memoir fun and enjoyable. Priceless is something that is within the reach of every single person. Priceless is what you really wanted, you just didn’t know how to say it.

So, if you’re worried about your memoir not being perfect, don’t be. I guarantee it won’t be perfect. However, that won’t matter, because once you stop worrying about writing something perfect, you can move onto the serious business of writing something priceless.

This article is part of the How To Write Your Memoir series.


How To Write Your Memoir


11/22/11


Like most people, you probably haven’t been taught how to write your memoir. Luckily, that’s all about to change. If you’ve been searching for help with your memoirs; search no further.

I’m happy to announce the beginning of our first series of posts titled “How to Write Your Memoir.” Here you will learn everything you need to know in order to write a successful memoir. We’ll show you how to make the process of writing your memoir easy and fun. We’ll outline a plan to take you from your first words to a finished book. We’ll make sure you succeed where so many others fail.

Come back to this page often, because we’ll be updating it whenever a new post comes out. Or, sign up for our email newsletter so you never miss a post.


Welcome to Memoir Place


11/10/11


Hello and welcome to Memoir Place. The idea for this site began germinating after I found the long lost memoir of my great grandfather, Solomon Greenblatt, the man after whom I was named. His memoirs were stories of his early childhood, and his journey from Europe to America in the 1920’s. The stories were inspiring and deeply meaningful.

It was time for my grandfather, my last living grandparent, to write his memoirs. After doing a huge amount of research into the resources available to help people write their memoirs, I was shocked at how little help was available. This site is here to change that.

I want to sincerely thank all the people without whom this site would not exist. To all the friends, family, programmers, designers, and memoir experts who have helped out over the past months; you are all amazing. This site would never have happened without you. To my parents and girlfriend, you know how much you did, and I am eternally grateful.

Regards,
Solomon Kahn


This blog is a free resource to help you write your memoirs. Subscribe for email updates!