How to write a memoir when you are an older person

Regardless of the reasons that lead you to the starting line, there are several myths about writing a memoir that can deter older writers from sharing their stories. In my six years of teaching community college memoir classes geared toward older adults, I have seen many concerns brought up by my students each semester. Many believe that their lives aren’t “book worthy” or that younger generations won’t be interested in reading about their experiences. Others find it hard to select a starting point or can’t decide a theme to settle on. Plenty worry about what family or friends will think when they hear about secret pasts.

Often, the apprehensions or worries about writing come up before the students even connect pen to paper. The sheer magnitude of these worries has kept some from enjoying the process of sharing their stories. While writing memoir can certainly challenge writers emotionally and creatively, the process does not need to be grueling or intimidating. Here are the most common issues I hear from my students, along with encouraging tips to keep you moving forward.

I suggest keeping a notebook and jotting memories and story ideas down as they come up. However, I encourage memoirists NOT to consult with family about how certain incidents played out while they have work in progress. While asking family about factual things like addresses, birthdays or anniversaries, or the name of a wacky distant relative can be helpful during the writing process, memories or interpretation of events can vary wildly from person to person. Chances are, no two people will have the same memory of an incident, and this can often confuse or sway the memory of the writer.Advertisement

I welcome comments and criticism

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.