5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Memoir

Mistake 1 - Doubting Your Story

Two women recently told to me that they should write a book, respectively, but their lives are so boring. Impossible, I thought. I don't believe it. No one escapes this life without walking through a little fire. Sure, your memoir may not make the New York Times Best Sellers' list, but that doesn't make your life story unworthy of telling, especially for future generations.

Mistake 2 - Worrying About Publishing

Speaking of the New York Times Best Sellers' list, many people worry a bit too much about publishing before they've written a word. I've realized that this is often a stalling tactic. I suggest working on your craft and having something substantial so that when the opportunities arise for publishing you'll have work to show. There's no sense in worrying about publishing if you don't have anything to publish.

Mistake 3 - Not Establishing a Theme for Your Memoir

If you do plan to share your story with others outside of your family and publish it, you will need to have a theme and a central idea, a "so what?" In other words, zero in on a particular time or facet of your life. You can always cover other areas in another memoir:)

A few categories are: Coming-of-Age, Addiction and Compulsion, Transformation, Travel, Food, Religion/Spirituality, etc.

Mistake 4 - Excluding Dialogue

In order to engage your readers, create dialogue that is believable. If your grandmother spoke using yiddish phrases, write the dialogue how she would say it, not in perfect English. Make your characters come alive by including dialects and even other languages.

Mistake 5 - Editing As You Write

I know it's tempting, but editing as you write may not only slow down the process, it may also stop the creative juices from flowing altogether. This is particularly important when you are writing your first draft. Don't worry in the beginning if every "i" is dotted and if every "t" is crossed. Just write. After your first draft, you will be doing some major rewriting and revision. You can worry about perfect grammar after all of that is done.

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