Real lives can have twists and turns that no fiction writer could ever dream up. I routinely speak and correspond with people that genuinely have fascinating life stories. If written, their story—their memoir—will make an excellent book.
One of the most frequent questions I get is, “I want to write my memoir or a story about my life, how do I start?”
The best memoirs (most popular commercially) are those written just like telling a story. They start with the main character in a situation that hooks the reader and gets them engaged and curious as to, ‘What happens next.’
Start with that step…
For those of you who want to write your story, within your journal, notes or from memory, find a critical moment and event that stands out in your life. Try to get that down, even in rough form, for your first block of writing to get things rolling. Then using the rest of your notes and remembrances get all the components—the major events—of your story down on paper (or digitally). It does not have to look pretty and perfect (writing is a process of iterative refinement). Once you have those building blocks, you can arrange them into logical—story flow—sequence and add transitions between them so you can carry the reader through your story. Understand that what you’ve started with—that first piece—may not end up the opening of your final story and book; determining that comes after you’ve written a rough draft and you go through re-writes to polish the story to find what works best.
With a starting point, you can build momentum to continue writing and complete your story. The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Remember writing a book (your story) is done one word-one sentence at a time!