You will understand the process of writing life stories when you realise that memoir is all about connection.

We humans have been telling each other stories since the first apelike creature tried to settle his hyperactive child into bed in his cave, with the promise of his favourite bedtime story, The Hungry Sabretooth Tiger.

It’s our way of imparting information, making sense of the world, and connecting with each other. And learning how not to get eaten by a sabretooth tiger.

Emotional Connection Is Vital

One of the main ingredients of a good story is emotional connection. Feeling connected to the characters is how we immerse ourselves in the story. 

We don’t necessarily have to like all the characters – but in some way, we can understand their behaviour and empathise with them.   Sometimes we love to hate a character, which is still an emotional connection,  and the author has done his job well if he elicits that type of emotion in the reader.  

In fiction, we are connecting with make-believe people, but for the duration of the story, we suspend reality and the characters become real to us. 

When we finish the book we’re bereft; we no longer have the company of these people we’ve grown attached to.

Why Do We Read Memoirs?

In memoirs, the people are real, which for many readers, increases their authenticity. In my opinion there are three main reasons that people read memoirs:

  • To read about someone who’s had similar experiences to you
  • To read about someone who’s had similar experiences to someone you’re close to
  • To enjoy vicariously the life of someone you’re interested in (eg a celebrity memoir)

I love to read memoirs about people in the medical industry – doctors, nurses etc – because even though I’m not a medical professional, I’m fascinated by the miracle of the human body and people who work in that field.

Connecting With Memoirs

Because the reader is engaging with a real person in a memoir, it’s important to be honest when writing your own memoir, and be just as ready to admit to your flaws and weaknesses as your strengths and successes.

We all have less than worthy thoughts, feelings and behaviour at times, and by revealing yours, readers will be able to relate to you.

This can be scary, because you’re opening yourself up to judgment by people who don’t know you. (As well as people who do know you, which can be scarier).

I’ve written about this necessity to be vulnerable in memoir writing in my blog post Vulnerability in Writing Memoirs.

Connecting Face-to-Face

It’s daunting enough revealing personal information to strangers when writing a memoir, and even more so when it’s face-to-face.

In 2023, the Queensland Writers Centre, as part of the state government’s Stay Connected Initiative, ran a series of personal story writing workshops for older, regional women to help relieve isolation and loneliness, and reduce the risk the homelessness, which has greatly increased for this demographic.

These women found a lot of acceptance, support and friendship through writing and telling stories from their lives.

There was healing, comfort and lots of laughter, as well as plans to meet regularly after the workshop to keep writing and nurturing the relationships. 

Queensland Writers Centre Memoir Is All About Connection

World Leaders Take Note

When it comes down to it, whatever your race, colour, gender or nationality, we humans are all more alike than we are different.

Reading stories of other people’s lives brings this home to us. I think all world leaders should be forced to attend a memoir writing workshop. Preferably several.

That’s my suggestion for world peace.

Want Me To Help You?

I truly believe that memoir is all about connection. It's why I now spend my time writing life stories and memoirs as a full-time occupation.

If you’d like to talk to me about writing your memoir, click the button below to enter your name and email, and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

Memoir Is All About Connection Pinterest

Header and Pinterest Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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