Writing A Memoir: 5 Common Misconceptions

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

I am pleased to share with my readers this post from award-winning author Marylee MacDonald, author of Bonds of Love & Blood and Montpelier Tomorrow. Marylee is also a teacher and writing coach and is the author of 7-Day Writer’s Bootcamp, a short course on writing. You can find out more about Marylee at her website: http://maryleemacdonaldauthor.com/

By Marylee MacDonald

So you’ve always dreamed of writing a memoir. Where should you start, and how can you get a handle on the big and small turning points, traumas, and people that constitute your life?

Are You Confused?

Writing a memoir is not simple. The writing itself takes far longer than beginning writers think it will.

Let’s take a hypothetical. Imagine getting a letter with this message.

“You’re about to embark on the most intense four years of your life. Welcome to Med School!”–Best regards, Dean of the Medical College of Grenada

You would be taken aback. “Gosh, I don’t think I even applied!”

On the other hand, if you’ve had a secret hankering to become a doctor, you might welcome such a letter. You would swallow hard, adjust your expectations, and prepare for the long hours that developing medical competency will take.


Plowing through to the end of an 80,000- to 110,000-word manuscript can feel similarly daunting. It can take years to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. And, then, you’ll start on revisions. Before you produce a readable and engaging book, your manuscript may go through five, ten, twenty, or thirty revisions.

 Writing a Memoir Takes Courage

The act of putting words on the page–words that are but a faint approximation of the lived experience–requires a huge amount of emotional investment on your part. You may have