Many writers would like to blog a memoir. It’s not that different than blogging a novel, which I wrote about in a recent post, except, of course, you are blogging or writing about your own experiences. That makes your book as work of nonfiction rather than fiction. That said, it must read like fiction to a great extent. Those that combine the two–fact and fiction– write what these days seems to be called creative nonfiction, a relatively new genre that takes creative license to fill in gaps, reads like fiction but is based on fact–or something like that.
Anyway, if you are writing a memoir, you are writing about a period in your life–not about your whole life, which would be a biography. A biography would definitely keep you busy blogging for a long time! As with any memoir, a blogged memoir requires that you:
- Choose a significant time period to write about–one that is significant to you and relevant to readers. Like a novel, it must have a story arc and the character (you) must develop in some interesting manner.
- Decide if it the story is marketable–one that has a large enough number of potential readers interested in the subject who will read your blog and later purchase the book.
- Determine if your story offers benefit to readers–some sort of or added value they gain by reading it. The best memoirs touch readers deeply teach them something, or change them in some way.
If your life experiences and the story you want to write about them have these elements, you are ready to blog your memoir.
To do so, you take some of the same steps as you would with any memoir, and then you chunk them down into post-sized steps.
- Create a timeline of all the events that happened during the time period you want to include in your memoir.
- Decide which are the most important ones–the ones you will include.
- Decide on the less important ones that support the more important ones and which, therefore, should also be included.
- Make a list of two or three themes that will run through your book, and then describe them in detail.
- Go through each vignette you plan to include in the book and determine how one or more of the themes plays into that event. In other words, map out your themes.
- Make a list of the characters in your book. Determine how they play into your themes and into your main character’s development.
- On your timeline, mark the main climatic moments. Where is the plot rising and falling?
- Based on your work in step #7, delineate the starting and stopping points for blog posts. (Keep in mind, you will be writing in short pieces, preferably 500 words at most; you may need to lengthen your posts to 1,000 words to fit in a whole scene or to make a better transition.)
- Begin writing your memoir in a word document, post by post, day by day.
- Each time you write an “installment,” post it to your blog.
As part of your content plan, try to come up with a bit of “extra” content that you will not publish on the blog. This could be a prologue or an epilogue, a few vignettes that you feel can be left out, maybe even a whole chapter that isn’t crucial to understanding the story. Possibly, you can leave out bits and pieces of each chapter. Also, know that when you edit your first draft–the blogged book–it will change and improve. All of this will provide an enticement to your fans–your blog readers–to later purchase the digital or print version of the finished memoir.
There you go! An easy, schmeasy way to blog your memoir–and to promote it at the same time. As you publish your daily or weekly (2-7 times per week is best) posts, you will gain a following of loyal blog readers. They will later purchase your memoir when you produce it as a digital or printed book–or when a publisher does so for you.
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S M Yuen says
Thanks for your latest post, Nina; it’s most helpful and informative! It also led me to your earlier post on ‘6 Tips for Blogging a Novel’. Over the last year or so, I’ve been blogging my novel ‘In His Own Image’ – I’m into my 40th chapter now! – but I’m not sure I’m doing it the right way. I’m also considering publishing it as a trilogy – should I continue blogging or just release it to a publisher?
As I explained to someone earlier today, if you are releasing full chapters, you are serializing your novel, not blogging it per se. If you have lots of readers, go for it! Contact a publisher.
sarah corbett morgan says
Great post and excellent tips. Thank you, Nina. Even if one does not wish to blog their memoir, this is an excellent roadmap to laying out a memoir.
Thanks, Sarah. I’m glad you found it useful. And I appreciate you reading the blog and commenting!
This post was very helpful to me, I am one who struggles with the sheer amount of material I have to work with. Thanks for helping limit some of the intimidation factor in the easy steps you’ve outlined above.
I’ll be launching my website borninmay.com in a few months or so to blog my memoir (same title). It’s a memoir of resiliency and finding my voice in a chaotic yet still inspiring home-life. In the meantime, I’m stockpiling posts in case I have a few days here and there in the future when I don’t feel like writing.
Nina Amir says
Good luck, Lori! Having some posts done in advance is a great idea!
Elizabeth M Nosser says
What do you mean by serializing in reference to releasing full chapters …should it be done in bits ?? can you explain more?
Nina Amir says
Read all the posts here about blogging a book–or read the book itself. Blogging a book is not about publishing entire chapters but bits of chapters. Serialization is entire chapters. You publish your book in post-sized bits.
Hi Nina, I’m well into my 70s and have almost finished writing my memoir. I would like to create a blog to put it on, but have no knowledge as to how to do it. Would you have any suggestions?
Nina Amir says
There are many suggestions right on this blog! Search for how to start a blog or go to that category on the site.