Check out this most excellent post from Shayla on writing a memoir. Number One is a most important point. I always wanted to write a memoir but I stopped writing the drafts and deleted the sneak peeks I’d shared with my email list (so embarrassing lol) and decided to start over. I’ve learned so much since then with one of the major things being the difference between a memoir and autobiography.
1. Learn the differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
A common mistake is to pour your heart and soul into a book and market it as the wrong genre. An autobiography is a chronological telling of your life, but a memoir hones in on a specific timeline or event. It doesn’t mean you can’t have flashbacks or backstory; you can. But you must understand the big and subtle differences between the two before you write, publish, and market your story.
- Does my story reflect on my entire life (autobiography), or a key aspect, theme, or event (memoir)?
- Does my story start at the beginning of my life and progress to the end (autobiography), or does it start anywhere and move around in time and place (memoir)?
- Does my story require hours of fact-checking (autobiography), or is it more personal, requiring less fact-checking (memoir)?
“A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”
—Gore Vidal, Palimpsest