In this world of high technology and instant information, it is easy to forget that it wasn’t always there. As little as twenty years ago, cell phones were a dream. Fifty years ago, computers were still on the drawing board. Whole generations of people will grow up with no idea what it might have been like. This is a field rich with possibilities for senior citizens who have interesting stories they would like to tell and share.
Memoir writing is not as difficult as it would seem. Mostly, it just takes a desire to remember details of a childhood without all the gadgets we have today.
Begin your memoir by brainstorming all of the life events you can remember that were either very important to you in a positive way, or very important to you in a negative way. Talk to other members of your family to get ideas, to help you remember events from when you were small, and to help fill in the details that might have been forgotten.
There is no right or wrong time to start writing about your life. There is only now. If you are comfortable with writing on your computer, you can start directly into a Microsoft Word or text document. If you don’t want to do that, go to the store and purchase some type of spiral bound notebook. You will be carrying this with you and making your notes as you think of them. A combination of these is probably going to work best.
Whichever you choose, just pick a year and start making notes of all the things that happened to you that year. Label each page with a month and work through the whole year.
When you are ready to write, select the event (or series of related events )that seems most interesting to you. Brainstorm again, but in more detail—trying to recall names, places, descriptions, voices, conversations, things, and all the other details that will make this an interesting account.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How much was food?
- What kind of car did my parents have?
- What was the political climate like?
- Where did my parents work?
- What was my school like?
- What did I play?
- What siblings did I have?
Jot down notes for each month.
Work at this note taking stage for a few days, until you feel you’ve got it all down on paper.
You will be surprised to see that even more details begin to appear once you start to write. For your first draft, write quickly to get all your ideas down from beginning to end. Don’t worry about editing. Before you revise, share your first draft with someone in the family. Consider their response, but go with what feels right to you. Rewrite, and then start editing as needed.
Good narratives are about everyday things, but they are interesting—sometimes just as interesting to read as a good novel. But remember, this chronicle is supposed to be true, so be careful not to exaggerate or embellish the truth.
Once you have finished one year, begin on another year. You might want to write various versions of each year by focusing on different topics. It is your story. The only limit is your imagination.