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Dear Editor: Any Advice on Writing Memoir?

—(Originally appeared in Publishers Weekly)— Do you have a life story worth telling? If you’ve been mulling the idea of writing a memoir, BookWorks founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, has some tips on getting started in her latest answer to a reader’s question. Dear Editor: I want to write a memoir but don’t… [Read More]

Writing memoir advice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

—(Originally appeared in Publishers Weekly)—

Do you have a life story worth telling? If you've been mulling the idea of writing a memoir, BookWorks founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, has some tips on getting started in her latest answer to a reader's question.

Dear Editor:

I want to write a memoir but don’t have much writing experience. Should I even try this?

—Fergus D.

Go For It!

Of course you should try it. It is your life and your story, and you are entitled to share it with the whole world. That’s what writers do. You’ll probably find that stirring up all those old memories is challenging as well as rewarding, and I bet there are lots of people who’d like to know more, about the life you’ve lived, and what different places were like when you lived there.Writing memoir advice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

First of all, I’d suggest you get a copy of Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser. Read it carefully and underline all the suggestions you feel are appropriate for your story. Then start writing.

Keep It Real

The goal, it seems to me, is for you to tell your truth. “Think small,” as Zinsser says. “Don’t rummage around in your past for ‘important’ events... Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them it is because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives.”Writing memoir advice by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

No Room for Self-Doubt

And try to squash all that self-doubt. Readers want to see what you saw, feel what you felt, learn what you learned. If you can approach your memoir with courage, confidence, curiosity, and discipline, you are bound to find the readers you want—guaranteed.


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