5 Reasons to Write a Memoir

I’ve just read Sue William Silverman’s defence of memoir-writing, an essay full of grounded, honest advice learned in the trenches. A timely pep talk while venturing through the back alleys of my own memoir. Read the article in its entirety, but to pique your interest, here are the five reasons Silverman suggest that your life will be enhanced by discovering and telling your own memoir:

  1. Writing Memoir Helps You Overcome Fear “you’ve already lived through, survived, the actual moment… Now, tell yourself, you’re “only” writing about it, figuring out what it meant… Once the words are down on paper, you’ll feel as if a great weight, the weight of the past, has been lifted… I feel lighter, freer, as if I can truly breathe.”
  2. Memoir Helps You Understand the Past and Organize Your Life “I gain clearer insights about my past when I write it, rather than simply sitting around thinking about it in the abstract… Writing is a way to interact with—and interpret—the past. It helps us make sense of events whether they are traumatic, joyful, or just confusing… Memoir writing… helps us shape our lives… we give our lives an organization, a frame, which they would not otherwise have. Memoir creates a narrative, a cohesive life story. It gives your life a previously undiscovered structure and theme.”
  3. Memoir Helps You Discover Your Life Force “To write is to give birth to a more complete self… There is only one of you. Your voice is unique. If you don’t express yourself, if you don’t fully explore who you are, that essence of you will be lost forever… The act of writing is where the spirituality of artistic endeavor resides.”
  4. Memoir Helps You as well as Others to Heal Giving a voice to your past is empowering to you and your audience.
  5. Confessing through Memoir is Good for the Soul “As you challenge yourself, you’ll feel more courageous every day. Writing memoir energizes your psyche, nourishes your soul… To do so is to feel your horizons expand… Writing is a way to take possession of—to fully own—our lives. Only you own your memories.(Numéro Cinq)

Sue William Silverman’s most recent book, Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir is available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions.

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