Creative non-fiction is the parent genre of memoir. Only, memoir is to tell a story about facts on self.

6 tips to write memoir:

Tip 1: Don’t be a writer. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Allow humors. Treat the subject matter lightly.

Tip 2: Don’t worry. Don’t consider your shame or others’ feelings. Remember writing is not publishing. It’s a private exercise.

Tip 3: Point of view There are two kinds of common points of view, one is voice of you in the past (voice of younger you, or voice of child), and the other is voice of you in the present (voice of now). usually write in present tense when use voice of child and in past tense when use voice of now, which allows you to analyze. It’s a retrospective approach.

You should have to choose one point of view, but, in many cases, two points of view are both chosen, but one has to knwo it consciously when he is switching the point of view. Voice of child is easy to start, but to analyze, switch to voice of now.

Tip 4: To think small. Approach from a small place. Look for a small vivid clip or anecdote from your life, so that you are going to be more detailed, vivid, with a specific beginning and ending.

Concrete memories are better than generalized description. And it doesn’t need to include everyone. Avoid visualizing the result of writing, just take memories as individual parts.

Tip 5: Make connections outside of yourself. Finding truth in your memories which will ring the bell to others.

Tip 6: Collect anecdotes and make anecdotes. Don’t be afraid to include in the process of memoir writing the process of memoir writing. All the process of collecting anecdotes can be made a part of your memoir.

Last, in order to write a memoir, you have to write journal for a year. Then edit it. Memoir is the edited journal.

Suggested Reading:

  • Angela’s Ashes      Frank McCourt    Memoir
  • The Year of Magical Thinking      Joan Didion     Memoir
  • The Night of the Gun     David Carr     Memoir
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City     Nick Flynn     Memoir
  • Boy     Roald Dahl     Memoir
  • Chronicles    Bob Dylan     Memoir
  • An American Childhood     Annie Dillard     Memoir
  • The Diary of Anne Frank     Anne Frank     Diary
  • A Garden of Forking Paths: An Anthology for Creative Writers     Ed. Beth Anstanding, Eric Killough     Anthology
  • On Writing Well     William Zinsser     Craft
  • Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry, and Drama    Stephen Minot     Craft
  • Bird by Bird     Anne Lamott     Craft

My Writing Exercise:

The train is about to leave, but I still don’t let my mum’s hand go when the last whistle is blowing. I started to cry, louder and louder, though my mum is pushing me out of the train toward my father at the platform.

I am seven, a second-grader, and my mum is going to Beijing, the capital city which every child is longing for, with her college students for their internship field trip. My dad and I are there to see her off, at least my dad is, but I am carrying out a scheme I have plotted for several days. As my previous attempts to follow her to the town fairs, I wanna follow her to Beijing, this time.

I grab hard the rail at the door of the train and refuse to let it go, until the train starts to move and my mum is shouting to my father to pick me up at the next station.

The train runs faster and I am wondering whether my mum will really send me off at the next station, when she begins to take out money, ready to buy ticket for me, when the conductor is approaching.

Tears in eyes, I hear my mum is explaining my wrongs to the conductor, and the conductor tells her that this is an express train and won’t stop until two hours later. Suddenly I catch a word “Beijing” when the conductor is asking for the destination of my ticket. All the students around sent out a hooray and one of them even winks at me.

My mum turns to me, “What can I do? You didn’t bring any of your own stuffs with you? Oh, my God, your school!”

It’s not a matter to me any more, and now I am already arranged by a student to a window seat and start to enjoy my first long journey in my life, in which I act as an adult at age 7 so as not to become a burden to my mum, to read maps and find every location for my mum, to remind her schedules,  even to cheat the conductor for cheaper ticket by lowering myself at every ticket booth and entrance.

Actually this journey gives me a brave heart so that in the following 30 years I put my feet onto countless journeys, farther and farther away from home.