Top Three Pitfalls to Avoid while Writing a Memoir

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By Jacob Maslow

If you are writing a memoir, there are certain pitfalls that you want to avoid at all costs.

Without wasting time, let us jump straight into the list of pitfalls that you want to avoid when writing a memoir.

Keep reading!

Pitfall# 1 – Writing before it is Time

Newbie writers need to understand that there is a right time to write a memoir. With that said one of the first questions you need to ask yourself – especially – if you are going to write about a traumatic event is whether you are in a healthy mindset.

In other words – are you healed?

The primary reason healing is an essential part of the process is that you will have enough time and space between the event or experience to have a clear perspective. This will give you enough time to understand the lessons you need to learn.

Even though you might feel that your story is exciting and the readers will want to read it, the readers must understand the lessons in it for them.

You get the point – before writing a memoir, you will want to be clear on your perspective and what you can convey to the readers through writing your memoir.

Another important reason you need to have time and space on the event or experience is that you will want to ensure you aren’t ranting. Many newbie memoir writers don’t even realize that their memoir has become like a rant.

And this is certainly not what you want, and your readers would want from a memoir. If it feels like ranting to the readers, it is guaranteed that you will get bad reviews, which you don’t want as a writer.

With that said, you will want to ensure that you have enough time and space between whatever experience you had so you can write your memoir positively. In the reader’s mind, you should undoubtedly have healed from the traumatic experience.

You can always rely on the best memoir editors to ensure that your style and voice in the memoir resemble nothing like a rant. A beta reader can also help get a better insight into the tone of your memoir.


Pitfall# 2 – Not Starting with an Engaging Intro

Another pitfall you will want to avoid is not starting your memoir with an engaging introduction. This is crucial because your introduction introduces your writing voice and style and tells your target audience whether or not your memoir is the book they should be reading.

Now, for a lot of newbie writers, they feel like everyone would be interested in reading their memoirs. While for some people who enjoy reading memoirs, this might be true – you will want to keep in mind that most will be reading your memoir for another reason.

And the reason is that your memoir is about something parallel to what is happening in their life. So, some people will read your memoir only because they want to see whether they can relate to you and whether your memoir could potentially serve as a guide for them to heal from experience.

They will want to know how you got from one situation to another and how they can apply that to their lives.

With that said, it is essential to remember this aspect when writing your introduction. Ideally, you will want to use your introduction to intrigue the readers to purchase and read your book.

Now, let us explain what you want to include in your introduction. You don’t need to write your book in chronological order. If you will want to – you could do that – but sometimes it is good to start your book in the middle of things.

This way, you can intrigue your readers to continue reading.

You could also start with your perspective on a situation, such as a monologue, a dialogue, or a question. Your chosen method depends on your target audience and what you think will draw them into your story.

Usually, an introduction is read before a person purchases a book. Suppose your book is displayed in a bookstore; a person will open the first few pages and read a few paragraphs to determine whether or not your writing style, voice, or subject you are writing about is something they could potentially be interested in.

You might already be familiar with the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon that people can use to look inside the pages, which they do to decide whether they want to purchase the book or not.

Pitfall# 3 – Sharing Your Entire Life

This is one of the pitfalls that many newbie memoir writers make. The underlying reason is that many newbie writers are unclear about the difference between an autobiography and a memoir.

While an autobiography deals with one’s entire life, a memoir deals with particular events, such as an illness, an accident, or an event that caused a major setback or shift in one’s life, and it deals only with that one information.

With that said, it is crucial that when you are writing your story, you focus on one event and consider the themes you want to discuss so that your ideal readers can relate to you and your book.

Make sure you stick throughout your memoir to the confines of that one event and those themes. If you try to include loads of things and aspects in your memoir, it affects the pacing of your story and the outcome.

You will want to avoid making your memoir boring, as this will cause your readers to put your book down altogether and leave bad reviews, which you will want to avoid at all costs.


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