If you are writing about your life or your family, whom do you envision as your audience? Are you writing for family and friends or for a larger audience? Are they old, young, or in between? Men or women? Working or retired? Like to travel? Enjoy romance novels? Prefer mysteries? Addicted to reading memoirs, personal essays, or family histories? (I am addicted to those last three. And I also love mysteries—but I’m finicky about the types of mysteries I read.) It’s a good idea to visualize one person you would consider your audience. (It doesn’t have to be anyone you know, but just a representation of the type of person you feel would be interested in what you have to say.)
Who My Students and I Write For
My own writing focuses on memoir, personal essays, and family histories. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to be teaching courses in those subgenres for many years. Through my students’ essays I’ve found that ordinary, unsung individuals have extraordinary stories to tell. Because they lived those stories they often don’t realize how gripping to others they experiences are. They might consider their families “normal,” “nothing to write about,” but when they think back and do a little digging through their memories, and then write about what they remember, both they and their audiences realize how unique the writers and their families actually were or are.
My writing students write about the way they or their families made lives for themselves after immigrating to the US from Ireland, Scotland or a Scandinavian country; their eccentric relatives; and profiles of people who were influential in their lives.
They also write about their individual experiences: the houses they’ve lived in and the pets they’ve loved; the sticky situations they got themselves into, the unusual jobs they’ve held, and illnesses and medical emergencies, to name just a few.
What would your friends, relatives, and others want to know about your life? Shine a light on those things. Don’t keep your stories and your history under wraps. Write them down so they aren’t lost in the mists of history. Share them through your writing!
If you’d like some ideas for what to write about, see Supercharge Your Life Stories With These Ideas.
Want Some Help?
If you need help getting started, continuing, or finishing your writing project, get in touch with me. I’m experienced and easy to work with. Just see what others say about working with me. (There are a lot of testimonials. Scroll down to see all of them.)
Jennette Marie Powell says
I’m one of those who can’t imagine my life being interesting enough to write about, so I write fiction. I do set it in times and places where I get to indirectly explore my forebears’ lives. But you are correct in that I would love it if my great-aunts had actually written about their lives! Maybe I need to rethink my feelings on my own, hmmm…..
Carmela D’Elia says
Your aunts stories or anecdotes about your aunts may be the most colorful part of your story! Be imaginative, one question, what percentage should be fiction!
Lynette Benton says
Impossible to say, Carmela. There is no percentage. If you are writing about your life or your family, you can fictionalize parts of the whole manuscript. For example, you might change the names of towns or people. Come to my next Life Writing class and we can explore this further.