Creative writing: memoirs
Creative writing isn’t only about writing stories or poetry; memoirs are another fantastic way of exploring your literary skills.
This style of writing draws heavily from your own personal experiences, making it a wonderful – and often cathartic – hobby.
Some people write their memoirs with the aim of eventual publication while others prefer to keep it as a creative exercise for themselves. Either way, there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had from telling your story in your own words. You may also like to pass your memoirs on to the younger generations in your family, allowing them an amazing insight into their own history.
Considering a memoir
Many people aren’t sure whether to write a memoir or not because they don’t think they have a particularly interesting story. However, this shouldn’t be a barrier to creativity. If you’re writing primarily for yourself and your family, you don’t need to worry about how exciting or unusual your story is. What’s more, if you’re a talented writer, even a very normal life can become exciting on the page – simply through your use of language. The Reader’s Digest has a lovely article about writing memoirs that emphasises the joys of leaving a legacy whether it’s for public consumption or private enjoyment.
That said, writing your memoir won’t necessarily be easy. Not only will you want to make sure you have the creative writing skills you need to do it justice, but you may also find yourself straying into very emotional territory. The BBC has some advice from bestselling writers Martin Amis and Lisa Appignanesi, who both confronted a number of difficulties when it came to exploring the past and getting it down on paper. While you may find it tough to relive some less than pleasant memories, you’re also likely to find that writing about them brings a new clarity.
Starting to write
One of the first things you should consider is whether you want to write about a specific period in your life or if you’d prefer to start at the beginning. You may need to do a lot of research into the things that were going on in the world when you were young and websites such as Social History Society can offer some very useful resources for getting started. It can also provide a nice opportunity for you to speak to any friends and family you have who were around at the time.
Memoir writing is a particularly interesting field to be working in, because it asks you to blend storytelling with fact. Don’t be afraid to dive in, simply start writing and remember that you can always make changes at a later date. That said, you may want to have a look at the Creative Penn’s top memoir mistakes so that you know what to look out for. If you’re looking for feedback or help with your writing, a writing group or class could be just what you need to kick-start your imagination. Your local library or community centre should be your first port of call.