Is a Journal a Good Start on Memoir Writing?

Sep 10, 2013 by

Is a Journal a Good Start on Memoir Writing?

So you journal.

Or you write a diary.

Or you blog daily, or several times a week about things that mean something to you. I recently read a blog written by a mother who struggles with getting appropriate help for her teenage autistic daughter.  Most of her posts are a means of venting, of trying to get national attention for her dilemma, but also a place to just sound off about things.

And I’ve read plenty of articles about how you can turn your blog into a book. I’ve even written one on this blog here. And you can…certainly.  But, unless you have already planned/plotted your blog out for a year or more (which most blog writers don’t) you won’t have the components you need in a memoir. You will have a book, but not a memoir.

Memoirs are stories about a slice of life. They have a theme or multiple themes. They use all the components that are critical to the craft of writing, including knowledge about character development, writing scenes, transitioning from one part to the next, an overall story arc, compelling description, use of sensory details that keep the reader involved and interested.

Journals and diaries are often emotionally laden, very much “in the moment” of some sort of emotional distress. You’re writing for an audience of one.

Yourself.

And you aren’t interested in always including character development or sensory details to keep people reading. You already know the whole story, it’s yours after all. For journaling purposes there is no need of good dialogue, scene and sequel transitions.

No, instead you are fully engaged in the feelings that are in the forefront of your mind.

Can your journals help you with your memoir writing?

Certainly!hand with pen

But, don’t think that all you have to do is put your journals in printed form and suddenly you have a marketable memoir. It doesn’t work quite that way.

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