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Book Review: ‘How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days’ by Roberta Temes

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Everyone has a story to tell.  Even if you think that your story is not interesting enough for the general public to want to read it or publishers to want to publish it, your children and grandchildren will want to know it someday. If you don’t want to submit it to publishers, you can always self-publish. But first you have to write it.

For many people, this is a daunting idea. That is where How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days comes in.  In this book, Roberta Temes gives you day by day assignments to help you write your memoir. The assignments start out simple and become more complicated as days go by but they are never difficult. They are meant to focus your thoughts and help you figure out what you want to write and how to do it.  After you have done most of the assignments you will learn how to merge them, create dialogue and scene, and make a polished manuscript. There are also suggestions about the best way to publish.

how to write a memoir

In addition to the assignments, Temes gives many examples of other people’s work to help you get the idea of how your writing might sound or be directed.  She also provides helpful tips about common grammar issues like the proper use of apostrophes and commons or the use of “who’s” and “whose.”

Another good reason to use this book is to clarify your own thinking about your life. As you write you will learn to understand yourself better and possibly uncover hidden memories.

This is a very useful and completely non-intimidating guide to sharing important parts of your story, and especially how you feel about what you are sharing and the lessons you have learned that may be of help to other people.

Even if you only share your memoir with a handful of people, or even if you hide it away until after your death so that your descendents will know some of your story, you will find these exercises enjoyable and beneficial and you may discover that you have much more to share and a far more compelling story than you ever realized.  This book is highly recommended.

 

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.
  • http://turningmemories.com/ Denis Ledoux

    The idea of writing a memoir in 30 days certainly has a cachet that is appealing and might work for a collection of stand-alone stories—lifestories. Great to have a book of stories to pass on. Of course. But, one wonders if a person who is satisfied with a collection of stand-alones has the discipline to write every day, and to rewrite and rewrite? And realistically how much can one write in a month?

    Certainly a memoir that explores the hero’s journey we have all undertaken in our own way and that takes a look back over a lifetime needs lingering, over walks and as we shower and do the dishes, and time to develop perspective—not to mention to explore what the truth really is (“it’s my truth” doesn’t make it; beyond ego and defenses lies some version that might possibly be The Truth)—and to be with one’s pain again. I have not read the book but it sounds like a guide to writing lifestories not a guide to writing memoirs.

    I am writing this comment because I know writing a memoir is not easy—just like graduating from college and raising a family is not. If you think it will be, you are setting yourself up for a hard time. It can take a year or two if not more. It’s just not realistic to think one could write a memoir in 30 days—not one that you would want to see circulated beyond family.

    Family is a great goal but usually we call this a collection of lifestories. Do think of writing a memoir—just expect it to take longer than 30 days. A memoir is a great legacy.