Barbara P
Barbara P

How to Write a Memoir: Everything You Need to Know

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How to Write a Memoir

Writing a memoir is not just about telling what happened; it's about capturing the heart of your life's moments in a way that connects with readers.

Though the memoir is about you, it can be difficult to write it in a way that resonates with the wider audience. 

In this blog, we will dive into the steps, examples, and essential tips to guide you through this compelling storytelling process.

So let’s get right into it!

On This PageArrow Down

  • 1. What is Memoir Writing
  • 2. Steps on How to Write a Memoir
  • 3. How to Write a Memoir Examples
  • 4. Expert Tips When Writing a Memoir

What is Memoir Writing

A memoir is a form of narrative writing based on the writer’s memories. This writing has been historically defined as a category of biography and an autobiography. 

However, unlike writing an autobiography, memoirs focus on specific aspects or periods rather than the entire story of your life. 

The Difference Between Autobiography, Biography and Memoir

While these genres all involve recounting someone's life, they differ in their focus. 

Let’s take a look at the difference:


  • Focus: An autobiography is a comprehensive account of a person's entire life, from birth to the present or a significant moment.
  • Scope: It covers major life events, experiences, accomplishments, and challenges throughout the person's life.


  • Focus: A biography is the life story of a person written by someone else.
  • Scope: It covers the entire life of the subject, focusing on key events, achievements, relationships, and impact on society.


  • Focus: A memoir focuses on specific moments, themes, or periods in the writer’s life, rather than the entire lifespan.
  • Scope: It's more selective and may revolve around a particular event, relationship, personal growth, or thematic element

Expert Tip

Take a look at the detailed blog to get a better insight into autobiography vs. biography vs. memoir

Steps on How to Write a Memoir

Let’s take a look at the steps that help you learn how to write a compelling memoir:

Step 1 - Reflect and Identify Key Moments

As you start writing your memoir, start by reflecting on the significant parts of your life journey. You can dive into your journal entries or memories to extract these meaningful parts of your life.

Look at the example of how Cheryl Strayed’s "Wild" narrated her transformative hike along the Pacific Crest Trail:

"I was alone, surrounded by towering trees and a vast expanse of nature. Each step forward felt like a step into the unknown, a metaphor for my life at that point. As I trudged up the steep trail, memories flooded my mind—moments of loss, mistakes, and moments of profound joy. It was as if each mile I conquered was also a mile closer to understanding myself. The solitude of the wilderness echoed the solitude I felt within, and with every blister and ache, I found a deeper connection to my resilience."

In Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes," the reflection often touches upon his upbringing in poverty-stricken Limerick. 

Here's an example of his reflective style: 

"In the damp streets of Limerick, my childhood unfolded like chapters of a storybook tainted by hardship. I remember the hunger pangs, the relentless rain, and the bare cupboards in our home. But amidst the struggles, there was also laughter—bright moments of camaraderie and resilience in the face of adversity. Looking back, those moments of laughter were my lifeline, guiding me through the darkest times."

Here are some tips that can help you identify key moments:

  • Keep a journal or document significant moments that evoke strong emotions or pivotal life decisions.
  • Focus on events that stir strong emotions like joy, fear, sorrow, or excitement.
  • Identify major choices that changed your life's trajectory and explore their consequences.
  • Highlight instances of personal growth or change that significantly impacted your mindset or beliefs.
  • Recall interactions with people that left a lasting impact, shaping your thoughts and actions.

Step 2 - Outline or Plan Your Memoir

Start writing by outlining your memoir. Capture these true stories in a way that mirrors your life journey. 

Consider structuring it chronologically, thematically, or weaving different parts of your life into a compelling narrative. 

Here's a brief explanation of different narrative structures:

  • Chronological Structure: This structure follows a linear timeline, recounting events in the order they occurred. It offers a comprehensive overview of a person's life from the beginning to the present or a significant moment.
  • Thematic Structure: It organizes the memoir around specific themes, emotions, or ideas rather than a strict timeline.

Take the example of "Eat Pray Love", in which Elizabeth Gilbert details the journey of self-discovery.

In her memoir, she structures it thematically, dividing it into three main parts; Italy, India, and Indonesia, representing different phases of her journey. 

Here's an example of how she weaves different parts of her life into a compelling narrative:

"Italy welcomed me with open arms, its vibrant streets filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread and the echo of laughter. Amidst the cobblestone alleys and bustling markets, I rediscovered the joy of savoring life's simple pleasures. It was here that I learned the art of indulgence, relishing every sip of wine and every flavorful bite, reclaiming my relationship with food and pleasure."

"India greeted me with a cacophony of sounds and a sea of spiritual seekers. Amidst the chants and the serenity of ashrams, I delved into the depths of meditation, seeking solace and answers to questions that echoed in the silence of my mind. In the midst of chaos, I found stillness, and within that stillness, I discovered a deeper connection to my inner self."

"Indonesia unfolded like a dream—lush landscapes, warm smiles, and the gentle lapping of the ocean against the shore. Here, amidst the beauty of nature, I found love—both for myself and another. It was a journey of healing, forgiveness, and embracing the unpredictability of life's twists and turns."

The thematic structure allows her to explore various aspects of her life, tying them together to form a cohesive and engaging narrative.

Look at this outline to help you get an idea:

Step 3 - Capture Emotions and Insights

While writing your book, delve into your life stories deeply. Don't just write about the events, reveal the emotions, the lessons learned, and how your life has been affected by these events. 

Roxane Gay's memoir "Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body" is a great example of powerful storytelling infused with emotional depth. 

Take a look at the snippet of her memoir:

“My body carries stories, etched into its curves and crevices, each one a testament to resilience and struggle. It speaks of battles fought in silent wars, of scars that narrate tales of pain and survival. This body, often misunderstood, harbors a universe of emotions—a silent storm raging beneath a calm surface."

"In the quiet corners of my mind, I grapple with insecurities that echo through the years. It's a journey through the labyrinth of self-acceptance, navigating the tangled vines of societal expectations and personal aspirations. Each step forward, a triumph over the weight of judgment, inching closer to a sanctuary of self-love."

Here are some tips you can use to effectively capture emotions and insights:

  • Describe scenes using all senses, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, to evoke emotions and immerse readers in your experiences.
  • Be open and honest about your emotions, including moments of vulnerability; authenticity resonates deeply with readers.
  • Intersperse the narrative with reflections on how events made you feel, what you learned, and how it shaped your perspective.
  • Employ metaphors or symbolic imagery to convey complex emotions or insights that might be challenging to articulate directly.
  • Include conversations or internal dialogues that reveal your emotional journey and inner thoughts during significant moments.

Step 4 -  Polish Your Writing

Start the process of refining your memoir. This part of writing a memoir involves revising and editing. 

Consider how reading famous memoirs shaped your understanding of life experiences and the importance of sharing them authentically.

Here are some tips to help you effectively polish your writing:

  • Maintain a consistent narrative voice throughout your memoir, aligning it with the tone and style you wish to convey.
  • Edit out repetitive information or sentiments, ensuring each scene or reflection adds unique value to the memoir.
  • Share your draft with trusted people or editors for diverse perspectives and constructive criticism.
  • Carefully proofread your work for grammatical errors, typos, and clarity issues to ensure a polished final draft.
  • Create a balanced pace by alternating between introspective moments and action, building tension where necessary for engagement.
  • Reflect on your growth as a memoir writer. Use the learnings from reading memoirs to refine and shape your memoir further. 

Step 5 - Embrace Patience and Persistence

Writing a memoir is a life journey in itself. Embrace the patience and persistence required to share your life stories. 

Remember, the journey of writing a memoir is as crucial as the final product that captures your unique life experiences.

How to Write a Memoir Examples

Examples can help people understand the actual purpose of the assignment and how the readers expect your work to look. 

Take a look at this example to get an idea of how to write a memoir about yourself:

This example can give you an idea of how to write a memoir about someone else:

Consider the following example to understand how to write a memoir on a famous person: 

Expert Tips When Writing a Memoir

Here are some tips to help you write a compelling memoir:

  • Find Your Focus: Identify the central theme or story you want to share. Choose a specific aspect or period of your life that holds significance and serves as the core of your memoir.
  • Embrace Vulnerability: Don’t shy away from sharing moments of vulnerability or struggles. Honest storytelling often resonates deeply with readers and creates a stronger connection.
  • Structure Your Story: Decide on the narrative structure that best suits your story. Ensure a readable flow that keeps readers engaged.
  • Focus on Emotions and Reflections: Dive into your emotions during key moments and reflect on what those experiences taught you. This adds depth and relatability to your memoir.
  • Balance Detail and Pace: Include meaningful details, but avoid overwhelming readers with too much information. Strike a balance between descriptive scenes and moving the story forward.
  • Capture Dialogue and Characters: Include memorable conversations and vividly depict the people who played significant roles in your life. Show their impact on your journey.
  • Respect Privacy: Be mindful of how you portray others in your memoir. Respect their privacy and consider their feelings while telling your story.

So there you have it! Now you are ready to write a compelling memoir! 

We've explored the essential steps, examples, and expert tips to assist you in crafting an impactful memoir.

Writing a memoir involves a process of reflection, outlining, capturing emotions, and seeking feedback to infuse your narrative with authenticity and depth. provides authentic professional essay writing service, specializing in writing a book, memoir, or other academic assignments. 

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Barbara P


Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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