8 Tips for Writing Your Family History Memoir Today
Have you ever thought about writing your family history but didn't know where to start?
You're not alone.
It's a daunting task, but also a very rewarding one!
I've written two family memoirs and seeing my family's stories in print form is the most rewarding feeling I"ve ever experienced.
Here are 8 tips to help you get started on your writing journey.
1. Determine the Scope of your Story.
Do you want to write about your entire family history, or just a specific branch?
Do you want to focus on one particular ancestor, or several?
Answering these questions will help you focus your story and make the writing process much easier.
- I recommend starting with one ancestor.
- It's going to give you focus and help you get momentum.
- If you try to write about an entire branch, you're likely to get overwhelmed and quit.
Find an ancestor that has an interesting story to tell or perhaps life lessons that others can benefit from.
There are so many benefits to writing and publishing your family history.
2. Start with Yourself.
If there isn't an ancestor that stands out to you then the best place to start is with your own story.
- Write about your childhood, your parents and grandparents, and how they came to be part of your family.
- Once you have that foundation, you can branch out and write about other ancestors.
- Look for a common thread amongst the family, something you can link them all too like a location where they all lived, an event (Immigration), or even a tragedy. (The Titanic)
This helps to put your story in context and gives you a solid foundation with which to build your manuscript.
3. Don't Worry about Getting Everything Perfect.
When it comes to family history, there are always going to be gaps in the story.
Part of the fun of writing a memoir is filling in those gaps and making connections between different parts of the story.
4. Use Primary Sources Whenever Possible.
Primary sources are firsthand accounts of an event or time period, such as letters, diary entries, photographs, and newspaper articles.
Using primary sources will make your story more rich and personal.
5. Be creative!
A memoir is not just a list of facts and dates.
It's an opportunity to really bring your family history to life and give readers a sense of what it was like to live through those times.
Use sensory details and vivid language to transport readers back in time.
- Don't forget, it's important to edit your writing with a reliable editor like Pro Writing Aid.
- It's a paid subscription, but it's worth every penny.
- It will find more typos and grammatical errors than any program I know of.
6. Interview Family Members.
If you're having trouble getting started, try interviewing other family members who might have stories to share about the ancestor or time period you're writing about.
You may be surprised at what you learn!
Use a transcription app like Otter.ai.
You won't have to write anything down.
- Simply press the "Record" button and it does all the work.
- Otter will begin recording audio from your computer's microphone or your mobile device's built-in microphone and will email you a copy of the text after it's processed.
- Otter is the coolest app!
I remember having to use my little cassette deck to record relatives and the quality was terrible.
Plus, the tapes did not last. A white mold grew on them and they had to be thrown away.
Take advantage of the digital age where there are so many unique tools to help you.
7. Stay Organized.
As you're gathering information and writing your story, it's important to stay organized so that you don't get overwhelmed.
Create a filing system for all of your research materials, whether it's digital or physical.
And don't forget to cite your sources!
8. Take Breaks Often.
Writing a memoir can be a lot of work, so make sure to take breaks when you need them.
Step away from the computer screen or notebook for a little while, and come back refreshed and ready to keep going.
Download this Pomodoro Tracker today.
It's a 14-day printable writing tracker for only $3.00 and it will make all the difference in your success.
Writing a family history memoir doesn't have to be daunting!
Use available tools that will make writing and publishing easier, faster and more enjoyable!
By following these tips, you can write an engaging and personal account of your family's history that will be cherished by future generations.
So what are you waiting for?
Get started today!
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