Writing your first memoir can be scary and overwhelming. You’ve probably been mulling over the idea for years. Perhaps, you’ve procrastinated because you don’t know how to organize the project or where to start. But if you approach your memoir through a series of blog posts, suddenly structuring a full-length book seems like an achievable goal.
Memoir is a popular genre and has more in common with fiction than it does with nonfiction. You want your memoir to be more than a chronological recounting of events. Therefore, it needs a character arc, a plot with a natural momentum, and a universal theme that helps you connect with your ideal target audience.
These memoir elements can prove challenging to untangle, and it’s difficult to process your thoughts and ideas at the same time as planning your memoir’s structure. But when you blog your memoir, you more easily define your theme and get clarity around your plot elements.
1. Blog Scenes not Chapters
Blogging your memoir enables you to process the journey you want to tell in digestible segments. That’s the beauty of blogging a book of any type.
How many times have you heard somebody refer to part of their life as a chapter? We have all experienced different chapters in our lives, and they revolved around things like location or job changes, the start or end of a relationship, or a period of personal growth. But chapters contain a lot of different experiences and emotions. They would be too overwhelming (and long) to use as blog content.
When blogging your memoir, look at the scenes within the chapters of your life. Use those as the inspiration for your posts instead. We all experienced an exciting array of interactions, conversations, and pivotal moments that taught us something new about ourselves or others, or changed our view of the world.
As an example, when I moved to the US from the UK, I felt guilty about being so far away from my family. My Mum released me from that guilt by telling me she was proud of me for doing something that so many people would be too scared to do. She praised me for having the courage and confidence to do it.
Just one scene—one short conversation—with a massive impact on how I felt about my decision and my Mum’s support. Imagine how any blog posts could sprout out of the emotional implications of that one scene.
2. Identify What to Leave Out of Your Memoir
It’s challenging to know what scenes to include in your memoir and which to leave out. When you write a memoir, you can’t just take the standard fiction framework—plot points, pinch points, inciting events, turning point, and climax—and drop your scenes into a three-act structure.
You’ll likely write more content than you need for your book to get clarity on the memoir you want to write. Blogging your memoir gives you the freedom to explore different experiences and perspectives. Some of this blogged content may not get included in your memoir but it makes good fodder for posts. And writing about the experiences will help you nail down the core content essential for driving your plot forward while providing you with plenty of blog content in the process.
3. Identify Your Theme
You may think you know your memoir’s theme, but the more you write, the more apparent it will become. A theme acts as a filter for seeing the same actions and events from a different perspective.
For example, if I was writing a memoir about abandoning my corporate job to become a digital nomad, I could use a variety of different themes:
- It’s never too late to chase your dreams.
- Trying to please other people will make you feel resentful.
- Compromise is the secret of a happy marriage.
If I ran my life events through these themes, imagine how my views and perceptions would differ based on which filter I used.
You’ll only be able to settle on a theme of your memoir once you’ve written about enough of your life events and experiences. You can explore them in the context of blog posts.
4. Identify your Plot
You will compose some scenes in your memoir in intricate detail, and others will need to be summarized to quicken the pace of your plot. To write concisely, it’s usually necessary to write more words than you need, and then edit down to the core. You can use your blog to explore these plot scenes in their full-length glory and then revise them when it’s time to compile them into your book.
5. Explore your Back Story
You and all the characters in your memoir have backstories. A backstory is comprised of all the events or information about the timeframe before the start of your memoir. You can explore different aspects of these backstories in blog posts. In the process, you will identify critical elements that need to be included in your book and to write believable characters.
6. Do Justice to Your Destinations
Your scenes require realistic settings. You can use your blog posts to master the sensory language necessary to paint a picture with your words. Take any situation or event in your story and write a post that describes the place where you had the experience.
These six suggestions offer just a few ways you can reduce the level of fear and confusion you have about starting your memoir.
When blogging an instructional nonfiction book, like a how-to or prescriptive nonfiction book, it’s more efficient to create a planned approach to content. However, a memoir is a journey of discovery, and your blog is the ideal platform for that adventure to unfold.
Are you blogging a memoir? Share your memoir blogging tips in the comments below. Please share this post with your social network to inspire memoirists struggling to write their books.
About the Author
Jay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.
Photo courtesy of Aleksandr Davydov
Reading this post I remembered a lot the William Glasser concept where we learn much better by teaching. Very good!
Jay Artale says
I think that’s spot on Mateus … in order to teach something with confidence you need to be able to understand it. So if you find yourself struggling to explain concepts or processes, it probably means that you don’t really fully understand it yourself. As soon as you’ve mastered it, it becomes easy to share with others.
Scott H Keith says
These are very good tips. I particularly like the Back Story and Destination advice. Thank you for sharing. I find this very encouraging!
Judith Favor says
Great read, with this tips, aspiring memoir writer will have the motivation to write their memoir, and to further help them, I also wrote my own blog about “The Guide to Writing a Meaningful Memoir“, hope this will help.