Memoirs 101: Writing Your Memoirs and Life Stories | O. M. Allred | Skillshare

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Memoirs 101: Writing Your Memoirs and Life Stories

teacher avatar O. M. Allred, Writer | Speaker | Educator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

17 Lessons (1h 3m)
    • 1. Memories & Memoirs Introduction

    • 2. Why Write Your Memoirs

    • 3. Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

    • 4. Your Master Memories List

    • 5. Organizing Your Memories Into Categories

    • 6. Selecting Key Memories For Your Memoirs

    • 7. The Milestones of Life

    • 8. Choosing A Structure For Your Memoirs

    • 9. Should You Name Names

    • 10. Skeletons In The Family Closet

    • 11. Recording Your Memoirs As Audio Books

    • 12. Video Memoir Example: A Saloon Love Story

    • 13. Writing Your First Draft

    • 14. Self editing Your Story

    • 15. Story Ideas and Prompts

    • 16. Course Review & Suggestions

    • 17. Conclusion

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About This Class

An introductory course to writing the stories and memoirs of your life. Imagine traveling back in time and reliving those special memories of your life. Do you remember your first kiss, where you met your spouse or partner, the loss of a cherished pet? 

You'll learn how to turn your life memories into written and audio memoirs. You'll also learn how to turn your memories into video memoirs. You'll see an example of a video memoir recalled from over a half century ago.

This introductory course covers many aspects of writing life stories and memoirs. The course is designed for new writers and is beginner friendly.

Meet Your Teacher

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O. M. Allred

Writer | Speaker | Educator


Writer, speaker, storyteller, narrator, video/voice spokesperson. 


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1. Memories & Memoirs Introduction: If you're someone who would love to write the stories of your life, the memories, and the major milestones you've lived through, but you don't know how to start or where to begin. This memoir introduction course is for you. Welcome to this quickstart course on how to begin writing your personal life stories. This course is not designed to turn you into a professional writer. This is an introductory course designed to spark your interest and develop your enthusiasm to start writing about your memories, your memoirs, and life milestones. In this course, you will learn how to reach back in time and recall those special memories of your life. How to create a master memories list that you'll be working with. How to build memoir themes and Memoir memory categories. How to turn those special memories into narrative essays. How to look back and write about the milestone you've reached and passed in your life. And much, much more. The title of this course is memories, memoirs, and milestones. A quick start guide to writing the stories of your life. This course is for new writers. Anyone who's ever thought about writing your life story, but didn't know how to begin or what to do first, how to get started. And most important, which of your thousands and thousands of memories to write about. Perhaps you'd like to write your memoirs as a legacy for your family or maybe you're riding with the goal of publishing your memoirs. Whatever your objective, you'll find writing about your memories of fun, healthy, and healing, creative exercise that can offer closure. Does scenes from your past. You'll learn how to pick those special memories from your past that made a lasting impact on your life. You'll learn how to structure your memoirs and a narrative essay that the general public, your family and friends would find entertaining. Everyone has feel-good memories in their past. But don't forget about the not so feel-good memories, but about those painful memories that steal her even today. What about the skeletons in the family closet? We'll take a look at these personal, private matters and painful memories and consider whether to mention them in your life stories. But if you're hoping to someday publish your stories in memoir form, remember this? It's the skeletons in the closet, the family dirt, the personal hidden embarrassments that give our life stories, human interests, entertainment value, and public appeal. This quickstart course will be your introduction to writing your personal stories. It's not meant to turn you into a professional writer. It's meant to spark an interest in a fascinating, healing and enjoyable past-time writing the stories of your life. Thank you so much for joining me in this course. Now, let's get started writing the exciting, interesting, and revealing stories of your life. 2. Why Write Your Memoirs: Let's take a minute to think about why we want or should write about our life. There are many good reasons to write about your life. There are so many life lessons that you've learned that would be of tremendous value and benefit to other people, including your family, friends, and future generations. I found that writing my memoirs was an intensely healing experience. Simply writing about memories that I would prefer to forget was a form of closure and healing. Also, when writing about your life, you may see certain themes that kept recurring. Themes such as family problems or relationship problems. Themes that affected the way you've lived even up to current times. Another reason for writing your memoirs is the leave an accounting of your life, a legacy record that you were here. This will be of immense value to your family, friends, and anyone interested in the genealogy of your family. You'll find your stories and memoirs will offer a way to share your views, experiences, wisdom, and life lessons that you've learned during your life. These are just a few of the reasons why you should write your life story. Now, let's begin by looking at the differences between biography, autobiography and memoir. 3. Biography, Autobiography, Memoir: Let's review for a moment the differences between a biography and autobiography and a memoir. A biography is commonly defined as a full account of someone's life written by someone else. A biography usually starts at birth and progresses chronological through the various events of someone's life. Anyone can have a biography written, but usually they're about famous people. For example, politicians and famous sports figures, Nobel Prize winners, scientist, celebrities. Now, let's look at autobiography as a story of someone's life written by that person. But sometimes, and autobiography could be written by a third party, a ghostwriter, if you were to hire someone to write your biography, but you took full credit as a author, that would still be called an autobiography. This is a common practice, especially among celebrities, singers, and sports figures. Now let's look at memoir. A memoir would be a personal account of specific memories or events of someone's life. If you look at your entire life, a pie graph, a memoir, would be defined as a small single slice of that pie, with the whole pie representing your entire life. Memoirs usually consist of memories representing a certain theme in someone's life. For example, things of romance, turning points, milestones, marriage, family life, tragic events. Any specific memory from your life, if you were to write about debt could be considered a memoir. Now, let's move on to the next lesson. 4. Your Master Memories List: In this lesson, we'll start with your master memories list. I believe you'll find this writing assignment fun and revealing. To get started, you'll need a school spiral notebook, just a standard notebook that students in school use. And you want to use this notebook strictly for your Master memories list in a relaxed and uncensored fashion. Let your mind go crazy. Let your mind run while making this memories list. What I mean by that, you want to record every memory you can think of and you'll record the memories and a bullet point fashion by this, I mean, you'll just write down just a few words that will trigger your memory. You don't need to write out a complete sentence or the entire memory. Just a few words that will trigger the memory. And it doesn't matter when the memory happened. It could be yesterday, it could be six months ago. It could be six years ago. It could be from your childhood or your high school situation or when you went to college. Just write down every memory. You can recall. You don't want to think about this. You just want to, as soon as a memory pops into your mind, right down a memory prompt. The first time I did this exercise many years ago, I must have had three or four pages of memories that I had recalled from all different periods of my life, from my very earliest childhood, from the very first memory I could remember all the way up to what happened just a day or two ago, I had to stop at about three pages simply because I had cramps in my writing hand. I was riding so fast that I got serious cramps in my riding. And Here's how my first memory lists look. My mind was jumping all over the place that day as I was recording my memories. For example, take a look at the very first memory I wrote Frozen saw dust. Those were three key words that brought the memory back. Now to give you an example, what that memory, what those three words triggered was an event when I was a senior in high school and myself and for other people, classmates, we did something that was very, very dangerous and it's a miracle. We're all still alive today. And as you can see, my mind was all over the place that day. This was a fun exercise that I really enjoyed. Every one of the bullet points on this list represented as specific memory in my life. Now, it's your turn. Remember, don't think. Don't try to censor your memories, just right. You don't want to try and list your memories in chronological order no matter what the memory is or when it happened, whether it's good or bad or happy or embarrassing, or even something that you're very ashamed of. Write down a few keywords that will trigger that memory. You can always edit your memory later and remember, no one will ever see this list, but you, unless you choose to let others to see it and you can destroy the list at anytime. Remember, every memory is important. So start now making your master memories list and will continue in the next lesson. And I will explain what to do with this list. 5. Organizing Your Memories Into Categories: In this lesson, what we're going to do is to organize our memories into different themes and categories. For example, you might list your memories in such themes in categories as your childhood, your teen years, high school, college, married life, your in-laws, passing major milestones such as when you turn 30 or when you turn 40, work in job. In romance. Even more categories could be family life, school life, addiction, and affair, a divorce, medical problems, memories, best forgotten, friends, et cetera. Now you need to put each of your memories. Are the memories own your list into categories. One category pages that are in your notebook. For example, one of the category pages I used was my childhood. So every memory that involved my childhood would transfer to the childhood category page. For example, I listed polio girl first kiss, kicked by mu shotgun for Christmas, fighting at home. I also had a category that I called my teen years. And I listed roller skating, romance, frozen saw dust, drive-in movies, ran away from home, New Mexico Indian girl, Flagstaff, Arizona, Hollywood, and Vine, date with fortune tellers daughter. Once you've put all your memories into categories, I can tell you what will happen. At least in most cases, you will look at all these memories. You will reflect and think back owned memories. And I think you're going to feel a sense of relief and closure. That's what happened to me. I felt a sense of relief, calm, and a sense of personal piece. After I started looking at all these memories of my life, when I first read all of by memories and I reflected back on my life, I suddenly felt a sense of calm. And I realized that though I'm not famous and I never achieved to millionaire status, My life has been that bad. And I think you'll have the same reflections when you seal the fewer memories. All of us have lots of bumps in the road in our life, especially with family. I also recall some of the grudge is that I had, as a young man in my younger days, over a half a century, I realize those chips on my shoulder and no longer important. Let's just say that old age has mellowed me out. Many of the memories in my teen age category involved high-school own my high-school category list. I had written the name of the guy that was the school bully at the time and I was his favorite target. He was someone does I avoid it at all possible? He was six foot tall, wait, about 250, and he had to face silane, English Bulldog. As I was writing about this memory, I finally realize that holding a grudge against this guy for over half a century seemed pointless. This guy constantly harassed me in high school. He beat me up several times, and he calls me nothing but grief. And when I thought about it, I finally realize this guy was now the same age as me. He was now an old man, just like me. If he was still alive, that is, well with the principle of forgiveness in mind, let me say, Darrell, I forgive you. Now, have to use categorized own separate notebook pages. You have a couple of important decisions to make, which we'll cover in the next lesson. 6. Selecting Key Memories For Your Memoirs: You've listed your pages of memories into your categories. It's time to edit your list and to select those key memories that made a more lasting impact on you, it's time to find those memories that excite you or created an emotional response. And you, memories that you can talk about on paper. Memories that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Let's begin by picking any single memory from your list, preferably an event that was unusual or a bit out of the ordinary, Could you write two or three pages about that memory? Does their memory have a beginning, a middle? And when you're talking about to memory, do the words just spill out of your mouth? In other words, you get excited when you're talking about it, or it creates a pleasant emotional response and you, do you find yourself free living the experience? Did this memory, this event, teach you a life lesson or a universal truth? If you're having these kinds of reactions to certain memories, these are the ones that you will want to turn into your personal memoirs, essays. These are the golden nuggets that you should be extracting from your memory banks. Most important, can you turn this memory, this event into an interesting human interests essay, as I said before, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, could you easily write 700 to 1000 words about this memory? As you are thinking about this memory or personal event, ask yourself a few questions. Number one, what is the beginning point or what led up to this memory? What happened just before this memory? What were you feeling emotionally at the time as this memory is happening? What happened immediately after the memory? Did you learn a life lesson from this memory? I want you to go through all of your listed memories. Select those memories that are special to you. Select may be 15 memories that you can turn into real life stories that would interest other people. 15 memories that left a lasting impression on you. These memories are the ones to turn into memoirs, essays, books, or ebooks. Now let's talk about the milestones of life. 7. The Milestones of Life: Writing about the major milestones of your life, including on your list of memories, you'll have several life experiences you could call life milestones. Life milestones are considered those experiences that are life changing or turning points. Experiences that fundamentally change you as a person. For example, getting your driver's license the first time, getting your first car, losing your virginity, getting married, buying your first tome. Also, depending on your age, your major milestones might be quite different than someone much older than you. For example, if you're young, you're memories, memoirs and milestones will be much different than mine. I've lived a long time and too many young people, I'm considered an ancient old Giza. Soon I'll be facing my 80th birthday. Yes, that's so an app lived a long life and I've had many experiences, memories, and past, many life milestones. Let's review a few of life's milestones that you may want to include in your memories and life stories. Getting your driver's license, getting your first car, turning 21 and becoming an adult, losing a parent, a brother or sister or a grandparent, especial pet, or someone you truly love. Moving out of your parent's home, getting your first department meeting your spouse, then you'll have your milestone birthdays. Turning 30405060 or the one I passed several years back, turning 70, milestone anniversary such as your tenth, your 25th, your 50th, losing a spouse or a child. And then you have milestones at work, getting hired, getting promoted, getting fired, or laid off. And yes, during my life I've faced all of those. The challenge you're facing and writing about your milestones is which events to include in your life stories. Depending on your age, if you wrote about all your life milestones, you might end up with a 100 pages of your life stories. So before you begin writing, make a list of the 15 most important life milestones you've lived through. Writing about your milestones will be similar to writing your memoir stories, your life stories. But right in your typical everyday language and vocabulary, Imagine that you're simply talking to a friend. You're telling a story to a friend. Just relax and let the real you come through in your stories. 8. Choosing A Structure For Your Memoirs: In this lesson, we'll talk about why I believe that a narrative essay form of your memoirs will be much more entertaining than a simple chronological eight is Z listing. A chronological biography is an a listing things that happened in your life. You were born at a certain time. You went to grade school at a certain place, you went to high school, you graduated from college, you join the military, you got married. That's the chronological form. Now, my personal preference is to write my memoir, at least in short story form. But you have to forget certain of the literary aspects of a short story. A narrative essay form is a much more entertaining and interesting than a simple a to Z listing of events that has happened in your life. Meaningful stories from your life with a beginning, a middle, and an end, Plus story details, and a life lesson you might have learned is much more interesting than simple a to Z listing of events. Of course, if you're someone famous or infamous, the details or your life would be much more interesting to the average reader. But for average people leading normal lives where we went to grade school, what we did in high school and our playful times we had with our pets isn't of much interest to the average reader. But if you add a little family dirt, a few sex memories, and they'll look at the skeletons in the family clause it, now you have a memoir that people will want to read. Now if you're writing for your family's eyes only or as a genealogical record, you might not want to put these memories in writing, but if you're writing for publication and the global audience possibly don't leave out the dirt. The public loves the dirt. So let's move on to the next lesson. 9. Should You Name Names: Before we go further in the course, we need to cover the important topic of, should you reveal the real names of other people in your memoirs and stories? Well, that depends on many factors, such as, are the people still alive? Are they family, friends, coworkers, strangers, or just acquaintances? Are they shown in a positive light in your stories? Or are you just trying to get even or get revenge on someone who may have hurt you in the past. And most important, why do you think it's important to publish someone's real name when a fictitious name would do just as well. Now in a previous lesson, I mentioned how writing about the skeletons in our family closet and the embarrassing secrets than our lives can add spice to an otherwise bland life story. Think about all the other people in your stories in memoirs. After all, most of our stories and memoirs include other people. But should you identify these people showed you give all the details in a life story as an example. One of my most memorable life stories from my youth is the night I lost my virginity at age 15. I was 15. The girl was 18. This happened on a rainy night at a drive-in movie. It was a comedy of youthful arrows starring a 15-year-old naive boy, me. And it was one of the most embarrassing, funny is an happiest memories from my youth. But in my memoirs, should I identify the girl, my young, passionate lover? She was an older highschool friend, three years older than I. Still respect and think about even to this day, had I identified my passionate young friend and my memoir without getting her permission, that could and would be an invasion of privacy for her if she is still living at this late date. So no, I chose not to identify her in my memoirs. I gave her a charming fictitious name and there were no identifiable details about her disclosed. However, you may still be wondering if you should name names in your memoirs and life stories. At this point. Let's understand a few important legal memoirist could face when riding their life stories. The following three terms should be kept in mind when you're writing your memoirs and telling your life stories. I took these definitions off a few legal sites on the internet and full disclosure. I am not a lawyer. I am not giving legal advice or professional advice. Okay. The terms the first term you've you're probably familiar with is liable. Liable is a published false statement of fact that is damaging to a person's reputation. Slander, the action or crime of making a faults spoken statement, damaging to a person's reputation. Invasion of privacy, the unjustified intrusion into the personal life of another without their permission. Now, the internet has a gazillion website offering professional and legal advice to writers. But be careful, I recommend having your memoirs vetted by a competent legal and publishing professional before being published. Now, let's move on. 10. Skeletons In The Family Closet: Writing about the skeletons in the family closet, most of us are familiar with the term skeletons in the closet. These skeletons are memories of those life events, if exposed to the light of day, could bring embarrassment and humiliation or shame to a person or a family. One thing I've learned from almost 80 years of living is that everyone and every family has a few dark secrets hidden away in the family closet. And when it comes to writing about these Guilty secrets and our memoirs, we need to think carefully and thoughtfully about how we should reveal this information. And of course, the first question to consider is, should we even mentioned the secrets in our memoirs? And that can be a difficult decision to make as a writer and writing about the skeletons in my own family clause it, I've always applied the five W's, the who, what, where, why, and when. When I'm considering whether to reveal a family secret in my memoirs, I think who was involved was at someone living, was it a family member or an ancestor? What happened? What is the secret itself and the circumstances involved? Was it something serious, like a criminal arrest or maybe it wasn't out of wedlock, child or an affair where you are discovered. When did it happen? Was it a recent event or in the long distant past of family history? Where did it happen? Was it nearby or in a distant location, or a foreign country? Why did it happen? If you think of the old cardinal vices, also known as the seven deadly sins, one of those will usually be at the root of most guilty secrets or pleasures. According to Wikipedia, there standard list of Cardinal vices includes pride, greed, wrath, envy, gluttony, and sloth. When you consider all these factors, you'll be able to make a more informed decision about including a family secret. In your memoirs. Here are a few tips to help you decide if you should reveal these skeletons in the closet. In your memoir. Is this an old or a new skeleton? Riding a life story about something that happened many, many years ago is quite different than revealing a family secret that happened recently. Also, consider the consequences and the impact. This exposure may have ONE, current living family members. How do you feel personally about this secret? Do you feel pride, shame, embarrassment, or do you have no emotional connection at all about what happened? How serious was the misbehavior of the guilty secret? Was that a minor discretion or was it a major discretion? Can you be neutral and unbiased when you write about this? Are you trying to get even or settle a score? But talking about this in your memoirs, think about dead. And finally, does this particular memoir, this Revelation, fit in with the same of the other life stories you're writing. For example, if your memoir theme revolves around a struggle with drugs or alcohol or a mental illness, it would be best to make sure that the guilty secret you're revealing is that the same nature or is related to the same theme of alcohol or mental illness or drugs. One of the best rules to remember when writing your memoirs is don't write to attack or to hurt, or to get even with someone. Simply tell your story without bias, if possible. Remember, the circumstances at the time. The facts at the time will affect the guilty secret at the time. Try to be an observer, a reporter of facts, and not just a judge of the weaknesses and human frailties that we all suffer from. Now, let's move on. 11. Recording Your Memoirs As Audio Books: Several years ago, I recorded many of my memoirs and milestones as audio files. Consider producing your memoirs and life stories as audio books or MP4 video files. That's what I did. I've included here a, an example of one of my most important life events, how I met my wife, which is a real story in itself. And since we've now been married over 53 years, I believe meeting and marrying my wife was one of the most important life events that I've lived through. What you're about to see is one of the first of my memoirs that I recorded many years ago. And I turned it into an MP4 video, a video slideshow. Actually, it's only about 4.5 minutes long. It's a bit crude, but I think you'll enjoy it. The takeaway from this memoir is simply how I met my wife. That was the memory was going for. But I want you to notice how a set-up the video with plenty of information to set the stage for our meeting. Also notice how I ended the video with key information that happened after I met my wife. This short video memoir has a beginning, a middle, and an end, which are key ingredients for a successful life story. So in the future, if you record audio, memoirs and memories and life stories, please keep that in mind. A beginning, a middle, and an end. 12. Video Memoir Example: A Saloon Love Story: Here is one example of my first video, mmm laws that I made many years ago. I had written my memoirs on an old computer and used an old printer to print out my stories. Would you believe I used an ancient Commodore 64 when I first started writing my life stories almost 40 years ago. But once I had written about a 100 pages of memories, I still wasn't satisfied. They just didn't feel right. So I place my memoirs in my desk drawer and forgot about them for many years. About ten years ago I was riding an e-book. And while riding that Ebook, I happen to think about all those memoirs and memories at written about. So I started recording my memories as audio files and turning them into short video slideshows. As you'll see, I had no formal training and audio recording or editing or making videos. But I think you'll enjoy the short stories in this video memoir. And look, if an old guy like me, I'm almost 80. If an old guy like me can do this, there's no reason at all why you can't do the same thing with your life stories and memoirs. So here's one memory, one small memoir that I turned into a video slideshow. This event happened in 1967 in Sarasota, Florida. I called it a saloon love story. I first met my wife when I was a sophomore at a junior college in south Florida. I was carrying 15 semester hours and working part-time about 20 hours a week. At age 23. I was older than most of my college classmates. You see, I was a Navy Vietnam veterans and had spent the last four years sailing around the South China Sea off Vietnam on a couple of destroyers and cruisers. And I was anxious after four years to get out of the Navy silicon to go to college on the GI Bill. One Friday night, about 09:00 PM. I had just left my part-time job. My pay at the time was the federal minimum wage, a whopping $1.40, and our my part-time take-home pay averaged about 25 to $30 a week for an average 20 hour work week. After leaving work, I needed to stop for gas. My old VW bug was about empty. I filled her up with ten gallons of gas at $0.30 a gallon, three whole dollars to fill up my VW bug over half a century ago. Well, I drove my old VW bug into the parking lot of My favorite After work hang out. It was just a rundown bar. That luck do call it self a saloon. And it was quite popular with the college kids at that time. I walked in and took my usual seat at the bar. I loved sitting at the bar because it had a full-length mirror on the wall behind the bar. And that mirror must have been 20 feet wide and four feet tall. And thanks to that mirror, I could sit at the bar and still see everyone and everything that was happening around me. In the mirror. I was almost finished with my first cold draft beer. When I noticed for people come in and have a seat in a booth behind me and that huge mirror, I could see them clearly as a slipped into the booth behind me. Three very cute girls looked young baby in their early twenties. And the guy while how I envied that guy, because at the time I did not have a girlfriend. They were obviously having a good time, really enjoying themselves. They were laughing and joking with each other. After about 15 minutes, I noticed that they suddenly got quiet and they seem to be whispering among themselves and they were looking and pointing at me, understandably, suddenly I felt very self-conscious. Then one of the girls stood up, paused, and was looking at me in the mirror for what seemed like an eternity. This was very weird because she was looking at me in the mirror. While I was looking at her in the mirror, then this cute stranger took some loose change off of her table and started walking toward me. Well, I froze with not beer about halfway to my lips. She walked right up to me and with an innocent smile, she Linkedin close and looked me straight in the eye. Then with a right hand, she slapped down $0.26 on the bar counter. And in a low whispering voice, she said, Can I buy you a beer, sailor? Well, I almost crap my pants at that time. I mumbled and started a bit and finally managed to say, okay, then I joined her and her friends in the booth, and later we all went dancing, partying, and we had a great time together. And that was a night. I'll never forget. I don't know how she knew I'd been a sailor. But just three months later we were married. And that was over 51 years ago. And to me, she still is cute and sexy as the day I met her. After I finished up my AA at the junior college, I transferred to the University of South Florida in Tampa for my bachelor's degree. Our son was born during my junior year at USF. A daughter followed a couple of years later. Well, there you have an example of a video memoir. All I did was take my written memoir story of how I met my wife and I turned it into a simple videos slideshow. It wasn't perfect by any means. And there were definitely problems with my voiceover, the written script. But at the time I was okay with all the mistakes. But the point is, you can turn your memories in life stories into short video memoirs, just like I did. It really isn't that difficult to make simple, short video memoirs. If you'll take the time to learn google slides, which is free, and the free audio program, Audacity for recording your reading of the story. And remember this, your video memoirs don't have to be perfect. They only have to be good enough to satisfy you. And even if your first video memoir is far from perfect, your friends and family will probably think it's a masterpiece. So make a note to start thinking about making your first video memoir. 13. Writing Your First Draft: Writing your first draft, it's now time to put all you've learned about memories, memoirs, and milestones into a personal life story that only you can, right? You have your master list of memories. You've organized your list into different categories such as childhood, teen, romance, parents, home life, and other categories that are important and especially meaningful to you. You've selected 15 special memories from your categories. These will be a starting point for many more memoir stories to come. These 15 special memories, a powerful emotional significance to you. And these 15 memories will be the first steps to a more in-depth journey into your life stories. Now, to begin, it's time to choose that one special memory from the list of 15 that seems to be the most important to you. This will be a memory that comes to mind every so often. It may be a happy memory or even a sad or tragic memory. Or maybe you might feel an intuitive or psychic nudge about which memory to write about first. It could be a memory about something you feel guilty about when that memory jumps out at you, put a check mark next to it. This will be the first life story of many. Now let's look at the first steps in writing your first draft. One of the first steps I've always followed is to make a few notes on a pad about the memory and the event. This is where I make use of the five W's, who, what, where, why and when of the event. And even more important, I think back and let my five senses experience the event over. What was I seeing, what was I hearing, what was I smelling? What was I feeling? And in some memories, even what was a tasting at the time. Now, before you begin, remember these two rules, right? Uncensored. Don't hold anything back. Let yourself go, let it all out. Let your mind run wild with this new freedom of the written word and memoir that you've discovered. And again, remember, what you write is private. It's for your eyes only unless you choose otherwise. And second, forget most of those rules from your high school and college English class is forget about narrative arcs, plot structure, climax, tension, resolution, dialogue, all those things. In other words, when you're writing this, your first life story, don't sweat the small stuff in this introductory course, all you have to do at this time is to tell a story on paper about something that happened to you in your past. Believe me, this is much easier than you might think if you'll simply relax and let yourself go, be sure and set the stage for the story is tell us what you were doing at the time. Introduce us to the people in the story. Describe where you were, what time of year this happened, and the weather at the time. If there was a conflict, describe the conflict. Now, if you can write at least two pages about your specific memory. And the next lesson we'll cover a few tips on editing and polishing your first draft of your life story. Please don't move on to the next lesson until you've finished writing your first memoir story. 14. Self editing Your Story: Congratulations on finishing your first draft of your first memoir story. Now it's time to do a little cleanup and fine tuning of what you've written. This is how I self edit most of my writing projects. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for me. Hopefully, you've written your story with a computer Word program and you've saved your file in a safe place. If you finished a first draft, let it cook overnight or even longer if you don't mind waiting a few days. Why should you do this? Why should you let your first draft rest for a day or two? Well, it'll seem a bit different the second time you listened to it. And you will hear things and see things in a new light and you will spot changes that you might want to make. My first step in editing any writing I do is to print out a copy of my story. I set my printer O1 draft mode, because chances are that I'll be printing out many more Edit copies of this story. The next step in self editing is to listen to the story through your computer's narrator or text to speech function. I'll admit I didn't use this feature for a long time simply because I overlooked it in my Microsoft Windows and word options, the text-to-speech function is a must have, and it comes to hearing and seeing errors in your story. When you hear Your written Word, you'll quickly here words or phrases that are out of place, or you'll hear words that you've used too many times. I highly recommend using headphones while listening to your story on your computer. One of the great features of word is the synonym feature. As you're listening to your story played back on your computer, you may hear yourself saying a word that just doesn't feel right or it seems out of place. This is where the synonym feature and the thesaurus feature come in handy in Microsoft Word. When you need to replace a word, simply right-click on the word. In the drop-down menu, go to synonyms. And there you'll have a choice of several suitable replacement words. And if you can't find the word that feels right in that feature, then switch over to the Thesaurus feature in the same dropdown menu, you'll see the rewrite suggestions option. This option is really of little use and I don't use this feature at all. Shorten your paragraphs and sentences. Tide. Remember in one of my college writing classes, the instructor had posted Hemingway's For rules for writing. Well, when editing your work, keep these rules and mine is rule number one was use short sentences number to use short first paragraphs. Number three, use vigorous English and number four, be positive, not negative. Use the words and language of everyday people. Think of a country music song. The reason country music songs are so popular is they have an emotional message and 98% of the words in country music songs are either one or two syllables. When you've finished editing and cleaning up your story, and it sounds and feels right to you. It's time to run it through a fantastic word to, for writers. The name of this tool is word counter and word count too. It's an application that gives you a ton of statistics about the story you just written. Here is the link to the tool, and I highly recommend this to two will also reports the number of syllables, monosyllable words, polysyllabic words, sentences, paragraphs, unique words, short words, long words, anything you'll want to know about your story. This two will tell you. The only thing this tool does, do is correct your mistakes. You use these suggestions in editing your stories. I think it'll be quite pleased with your outcome. Remember this. You don't have to please anybody, but you just sell. Just a word. One criticism. About 42 years ago, I received a little note in the mail from an honest and well-meaning magazine editor. It was in the form of a little preprinted pink rejection slip for an article that I had submitted to the magazine along this side margins of the preprinted rejection slip, there was a personalized handwritten note to me from the editor. He said, Mike, don't give up your day job. Now that criticism really hurt at the time, but I enjoyed writing and speaking so much that I didn't let it slow me down at all. 15. Story Ideas and Prompts: In addition to your memories list, here are some story prompts to help you get started in writing your life stories. Even with your master memories list where you have hundreds of memories and events to recall, you might still need help deciding what to write about. First, here are a few life questions to help you get started. The way you answer these questions should bring back a flood of memories and powerful story material. Question number one, what was the most stressful experience that you remember during your teen years? Well, I can tell you my teen years were filled with infatuation, broken hearts, struggling to keep my school grades up in keeping my beta Bowl Ford, my first car running. Right about a stressful experience that you remember during your teen years. Number two, what was the happiest period of your life? You can look back and think was your early childhood the happiest period while your teen years, the happiest period with your high school years? In my case, I have to be honest, it would have been my four plus years in the Navy. I loved being at sea. I loved my job in the Navy, and I loved the discipline and structure of military life. Now, what about you? What was the happiest time period of your life? Number Three, wrote about an experience that you've had where you know that a guardian angel who was looking out for you. Now I'm a firm believer in guardian angels. I've had three incidents in my life where I was just seconds away from dying. And then in each case, something really strange happened and I escaped death. If you could relive only one event in your life and change the outcome and that would change your future. What would be that event? What event would you change if you could go back and relive this event? For example, write a story about what might have happened to you and your future Had you not met your spouse and you married someone else? Number five, what is the best piece of advice have ever receive? Write a story about how you learn this advice or your, how you learn this life less than who gave us this advice and outline a few event details. I personally learned a valuable life lesson over 50 years ago and it has served me well the advice, think before you speak and keep your mouth shut when you feel the urge to argue with someone. Number six, write a story about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected you. What are you doing during this pandemic? I think in my case, I'm sitting here at my laptop finishing this course. What were you doing? What are you doing during the pandemic? Write a story about that. Next. Was there one specific family experience that was most unforgettable for you when you were growing up. Think about it. What one experience that you had with your family sticks in your memories. And finally, write a story about your first kiss or your first time. Yes, I'm talking about that first time. Well, as you can see, the possibilities for personal life stories are unlimited. When you consider your situation, your experiences, and your age, you have an unbelievable amount of writing and memories to call upon. Remember when writing your stories right in first-person, right, in your usual everyday language and vocabulary. Let the real you come through in your stories. 16. Course Review & Suggestions: Well, we've reached the end of this introductory course about writing your life stories and memoirs. Let's review for a minute some of the key areas that we've covered. At the start of this course, you learned exactly what a memoir is and the differences between memoirs and autobiographies. Then we covered a few reasons why it's so important to write your memoirs for now and the future. You learned what a master memories list is and how to organize your list into different categories, the different periods of your life. Then you selected 15 Cave Memories, key stories from your life. These are the memories you will start with the first life stories, you'll turn into your memoirs. Then we covered the all important milestones that we all will pass through some time during our life. Next, we covered the all important structure that we should use in telling our life stories. My personal recommendation for you as a new memoir writer is to write in short story format and a casual, uncensored and loose style of riding. Tell your stories and simple language with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then we talked about skeletons in the family clause. It don't deny it now. Yes, we all have a skeleton or two hanging in the family closet. Then we talked about a new opportunity, a new way of presenting your memoirs. The possibility of turning your memoirs into audio books and videos. Think a YouTube channel or a Facebook account dedicated to your memoirs. Then we covered riding and self editing your first memoir, stories. Yes, we've covered a lot in this short introductory course on writing your life stories and memoirs. The actual writing that is putting your words on paper or on a computer screen. That can be so enjoyable that sometimes it can become addictive. But if you lose the spark, if you lose the joy in your writing, getting back into the groove can be difficult. So let me give you a little helpful advice from decades of hard learned experience that I've had on keeping your sanity and keeping the momentum going in your life stories seems to lose its joy. First, you have to make it a habit to write every day. Let me repeat that. You have to write every day, period. If you're not in the mood for writing a life story, right in a daily journal. If you don't feel like journaling, write yourself a long email about something or somebody that's on your mind. Set yourself a minimum riding goal of say, a 1000 words a day or a minimum three pages. Daly, back in the early 19 eighties, my daily goal was to single-spaced pages daily. And I held a full-time job at the time with two no at all teenagers at home, whether I like it or not, I wrote two pages a day. Minimum. Now think about this. If you write just two pages a day, just to pages and six months, you will have written a 360 page book or to 180 page books, or a ton of magazine articles or blog post or add copy. Two pages a day can work miracles. And finally, a little life philosophy from a guy almost 80 years old. You've heard it said before, but the truth is, life is short and time flies. If you're young, old age is far down the road from you. But believe me, you will be my age before you know it. Enjoy life, experience life to the fullest. Live out a fantasy dream you've had, do something crazy. When you get my age. You'll be glad you did. Because those crazy incidents where some of the best memories I've ever had. 17. Conclusion: Well, I hope you've enjoyed this class. We've covered only the basics and writing about your life stories and memoirs. I hope I've been able to create a new interest in you to tell your life stories and to write about the memories of your life. And remember you're writing doesn't have to be perfect. One of the best lessons I've learned and almost 80 years of living is that once you stop trying to make everything perfect and trying to please everybody, your life becomes much easier and more enjoyable. As you probably know, many writers and authors often right under a pen name for personal privacy and other reasons. If you have questions about using a pen name, especially when writing your memoirs, please check out my other course that freelance writers guide to pin names. It's a very short course, but it's loaded with helpful information for new writers who may be concerned about their personal privacy when riding their memoirs. Thanks again for taking this course. I wish you good luck and good fortune to you and your family during these stressful times. And now checkout Southern California as we fly over some interesting sites in our private drone. See you soon. Okay.