Writing a memoir is all the rage these days. The genre has become very popular both among writers and readers. And for good reasons. Here are a dozen of those reasons for starting to write a memoir of your own:
1. Writing a memoir helps you process and understand your story and your life at a deeper level.
The “knots” in the story you revisit in your memory over and over again are often about questions you never found an answer for or themes that need deeper contemplation and understanding. When you set out to write a memoir, you get the chance to focus on things that have astounded, moved, scared, hurt, disturbed, or captivated you in the past. In those focused periods of delving deeper into your personal mythology, you may notice details you missed before, or get closer to finding answers and even resolutions about events and people that have shaped the story you have been telling yourself about your life.
2. Writing a memoir helps you come to peace with yourself and others.
This deeper understanding and recognition of your story not only helps you reconnect with yourself. It also allows you to understand the “other characters” in your story — especially the people who have played starring roles. When you learn to see your own life in terms of narratives, you also begin to understand others’ stories. And you realize that the characters in your story have both good and bad sides. They are human. And so are you. The lens of memory and memoir writing inevitably softens your heart and cultivates understanding, forgiveness and gratitude. And with a softening of your heart, you no longer get stuck in the emotional mire of the past.
3. Writing a memoir enlivens and eternalizes your memories.
Isn’t it true that the stories you remember the most are the ones you tell yourself or other people most often? As we grow older, our memories need a bit of polishing. The less we replay them, the fuzzier they become. Each memoir you write about a specific topic or period in your life gives you the chance to bring all related memories to the centerstage of your mind and refresh them. And when you turn your stories into a memoir (or many memoirs), you eternalize your memories and stories.
4. Writing a memoir allows you to leave your legacy.
One day you will be gone. All of us will be gone. What do you want to leave behind for your loved ones when you are no longer here? You will always be in their hearts–but when you leave a written record of the most important “tracks” of your life, your loved ones can keep feeling connected to you in a different, much deeper way. Besides, a memoir is a piece of recorded personal history. Your memoir will be a container for sharing your life lessons, unique experiences, world view, and wisdom — and also your legacy to your family, friends and others you care about.
5. Writing a memoir helps you build stronger and timeless connections with those who read your words.
When you write about your life and turn your stories into written words, you create a pathway for connecting with your readers, be they members of your family, friends, or readers who don’t know you in person. How would it feel if you had the chance to read the stories of your great-grandmother whom you were never able to meet in person? What about your grandchildren or great-grandchildren? I bet they would be stoked to be able to read your story in your own words one day. With a memoir, you would still reach and connect with them, transcending space and time.
6. Writing a memoir helps you lighten the load of your heart and heals you.
In fact, all types of writing have a healing effect. Writing helps you process and dissolve hurts, heartaches, loss, grief, guilt and all other emotions that make your heart heavy. And telling your own stories in the form of a memoir is especially therapeutic. Expressive writing is a transformative and healing journey whose benefits have been scientifically proven. And the process of writing about your own life brings revelation and a relief.
7. Writing a memoir is a fun and fulfilling creative activity.
Memoir writing is remembering, recreating and storytelling. It is a highly fulfilling creative endeavor. It gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the colorful details of actual life experiences and vivid people from your past whom you thought you had forgotten. It is true that you also revisit heartbreaking moments, scars and even still-bleeding wounds when you set out to write a memoir, but you also get to remember “the greatest hits” of your life — those moments that make you think “it was all worth it!”
8. Writing a memoir keeps your brain healthy.
Writing is a mental activity that keeps your brain fresh and working. Research proves that keeping your brain active through creative endeavors such as writing improves its health and overall agility. Your brain even develops more cells and becomes stronger against diseases like dementia.
9. Writing a memoir helps you overcome fear and honor your truth.
Most people never begin writing their memoir simply because they are afraid to fully remember, write about and share an experience that has influenced them in a significant way. This can be about a painful event, an amazingly beautiful and deeply missed once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, or even a family secret. By writing a memoir, you rediscover, reorganize and redefine your past, often emerging with a clearer vision of who you are and what matters to you.
10. Writing a memoir helps you make meaning of your life.
Writing a memoir is an opportunity for “mini” time travel. The memoir-writing process helps you find more meaning in certain parts of your life story that used to feel pointless, unwanted or “cringe-worthy.” When you study your life’s narratives while writing a memoir, you discover things about yourself that you weren’t aware of before. You get a chance to revisit what you value and what you couldn’t do without. You might also notice truths you’ve been pretending not to know.
11. Writing a memoir lets you help others transform.
When you write your own story, you create a tool that connects you to all other people who have gone through a similar experience. When some of those people read your story, you help them process, understand and make meaning of their own experiences. Sometimes this leads to healing and a deeper kind of transformation — one that you can help make happen.
12. Writing a memoir makes you a more skillful storyteller.
Storytelling is a valuable skill you can benefit from in all areas of your life. Whether when making a sales presentation, telling your grandchild a tale or writing your novel, being a good storyteller captures your audience and adds power to your message. Learning to tell stories from your life helps you organize and convey your message more effectively in any setting.
Are you considering writing a memoir of your own? Please share with us your number one reason to write a memoir? It can be one of the 12 reasons above or one that wasn’t mentioned in the post. Leave a comment below and tell us why!