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Writing a Memoir  

How to Start When Writing a Memoir - 6 Approaches

Written By Lastly.com

When it comes to telling your story, there are a couple of challenging thoughts you may have to overcome: 

  • There are so many people, places, and events flooding my memory that I just can’t sift through it all.

  • I am not the best storyteller or writer.


Don’t worry! We're going to help you overcome what seems like a big task. Like most things, it's just a matter of how you look at it. Ever heard the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The common sense answer, "One bite at a time," is certainly an appropriate response and approach to writing your story, as well.  Breaking the task down into smaller, digestible pieces will certainly reduce the enormity of the undertaking. Here are six approaches to getting your life story started:

Life Events

For most people, it is easiest to think about life in terms of the “big” events - marriage, the birth of a child, a new job, etc. That is a quick and simple way to start. Name the milestones in your life and describe the details you remember about them. You can think of them chronologically from start to finish, or work your way backwards. Either way, the significant life events that happen along the way certainly pave a way on our journey. These events are responsible for shaping us and building our character. These Life Events are important to include in our stories. The process of recalling these events is also important in helping to uncover other forgotten memories that might hold great value.


Small Events

Not everything momentous in your life is going to be in relation to a life-changing event. In fact, a lot of the things that stick with us happen during the small, quiet moments that unexpectedly pop up and change our lives forever. Maybe some of your favorite memories happened when you were lying on the floor playing cars with your grandson or when you realized your granddaughter put makeup on you while you were sleeping. The so-called “everyday” things in life matter more than we give them credit for. Be sure and catalogue those special moments in your story.


Positive Emotions

When were you the happiest in life? What brought you joy? Do you have any hobbies or special interests? Your loved ones want to see you happy. They want to know what makes you happy. Sharing your happiest memories will boost your family members’ mood and encourage them to emulate you. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, yes? Passing along your memories of the good times will ensure that your future generations keep smilin’!


Negative Emotions

We all know that life isn’t fun all the time. It is hard, stressful, and tiring. But we are in it together! Don’t be afraid to share your toughest memories. They may be just what your relatives need to hear. You never know what someone is going through. Your stories of hardship or embarrassment may give a family member the strength they need to keep on truckin’. Simply knowing that someone else made it through a sticky situation can be reassuring and motivating. It's can also be very reassuring for younger generations to learn that success can arise from the lessons of failure.



Yes, life can be difficult, but there is one thing you cannot stop doing, especially when the going gets rough… laugh! We all make mistakes, but you have to learn to brush them off, smile, and remember how blessed we are. This is a notion that is so precious to pass on to your family. Don’t let them forget to have fun. Share your favorite jokes, Freudian slips, and goofy moments, for as Oscar Wilde used to say, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” These can be some of the easier memories to recount. Everyone has the funny story from their past, "Do you remember the time...?"


Turning Points

Oh, the winding road.  Ever considered the crazy journey that got you where you are today? Like most, that journey is filled with decisions to go left or right, to move forward or to stay put, or to even radically shift tracks and proceed in a new direction. These turning points are often easy to remember and come quickly to mind when reviewing our lives.  That's because they can be filled with anxiety and trepidation. Simultaneously, they might be remembered as exhilarating, life-changing and "one of the best decisions I ever made."  Make sure to reflect on the decision points of your life as they are related to your education, your work life, your family, even your spiritual journey. Mapping out the turning points in your life are of paramount importance when considering how to start when writing a memoir.


We hope these six approaches have gotten your thoughts stirring and your creative juices flowing.


Don’t stop now! You are well on your way to your life story being told forever, and we are here to guide you through every step.  

Lastly.com enables you to easily capture the stories and special moments throughout your life (or that of a loved one) so you will be remembered and forever cherished by your family and future generations.


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