Memoir or Autobiography?


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To think of writing an autobiography is overwhelming, but consider writing a memoir one story at a time and it’s doable.

We want to write our family stories, yet may wince at the thought of an autobiography, a daunting word to say the least. Matilda Butler clarifies the difference between memoir and autobiography here.

“An autobiography is—and one of the ways I think about that is as if it was a whole pie –it’s everything. But when you think about a memoir, it’s really a slice of your life.” The interview with Matilda is well worth the read.

A Slice of Life

A slice of life is appealing to read and to write. Focus on one story about your childhood, your work life, raising a special child, or your teenage years. Dig out an old photo, a diploma, an award, your child’s report from a teacher. It’s easier to recreate a point in time for a memoir than to chart a course from birth to the present.

Jerry Wexler has a short book, Learn to Write Your Memoir in in 4 Weeks, that might help you to find and organize your memories.

The National Association of Memoir Writers offers lists of books and other resources to help you begin.

Autobiography or Memoir? The whole suitcase, or perhaps a tee-shirt? A chronology or an engaging story? Whichever you choose, start with one story at a time, and you’ll be on your way.

Pre-order Remembering Childhood: Workbook Your Way to a Finished Memoir here

One Comment:

  1. Very helpful videos–thanks, Leslie!

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