Whether you are a regular memoir reader or you pick one up every now and then, you must be well aware that memoirs hold the capacity to take their readers on an exhilarating ride. What is a memoir? It’s pretty similar to an autobiography but doesn’t share the same idea as an autobiography. In other words, it is a slice of the writer’s life, not the writer’s entire life story; this resonates with the reader so intensely that it becomes unforgettable. Memoir writers usually play with their memories and life experiences to produce an excellent book for the readers. But memoir writing takes tons of practice to grip the main idea, as it is not just ink and paper but a focused mind to pull it off.
Generally, people opt for YouTube videos to attempt to learn the basics of writing a memoir; however, most people who instruct on ‘how to write a memoir’ haven’t ever written anything in their lives. So why not turn to someone who is actually good at it? This is where Steven Nickodemski jumps in. Steve is a devoted English teacher with extraordinary writing skills, and he also has proof that one can achieve anything if one only sets their mind and heart to it. Steven dedicates much of his free time to helping young people learn English as a second language.
This passionate memoir writer was born and raised in Meriden, Connecticut, and later moved to Florida, where he got his E-Business degree from Strayer University. He also enlisted in the United States Navy in 1982 and served as a Chief Petty Officer until he retired in 2005 at 40. Something about writing just clicked with Steven after his retirement, which led him to write his memoir titled ‘The Marginalized Passenger.’ And if that wasn’t enough, Steven Nickodemski has also written several short articles, both pre and post-pandemic, on teaching English and Neurolanguage, which makes him the best option to get some hot memoir writing tips. Upon interviewing Steven, we compiled some of his guiding tips we would like to share with our readers.
Table of Contents
Narrow your focus
When writing a memoir, you should focus on a specific timeline that you want to write about, kind of a snapshot of that one particular memory or part of your life that you want to tell. Remember, your memoir is not an autobiography. The difference is that an autobiography covers your entire life while a memoir focuses on a small chunk of your life. Be specific and put yourself back in that place and time. Live it while you write.
Tell more than just your story
Even with narrowing the focus, it is essential to think big and cover the maximum boundaries surrounding the main idea of your memoir. What does it mean? Assume that you are writing a memoir about your Himalayan Mountains experience. While you focus solely on your trip, it would be amazing to include the details about the place, your thoughts, and your whole experience. You can also describe the area’s geography and history or share some snippets about the people you interact with to add deep meaning to the message you are trying to convey in the memoir. Describe, don’t tell. Let the reader form their own picture in their mind. That’s writing.
Speak the truth
Speaking the truth is the essential element of writing a memoir. However, it gets a little tricky sometimes because we have a tendency not to want to offend. We don’t want to offend; however, despite the risks, tell the truth, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Write like you are the camera focusing on yourself, and above all, make it real. Nobody wants to read drab, faux writing because you’re too scared to tell the truth. You’ve got a story to tell, then tell it, no matter the difficulty or who you offend. Change the names if that makes you feel better.
Let your readers take the wheel
A powerful memoir shows and not tells. It is essential for your growth because letting people develop their own perspective about your story allows them to imagine every angle you want them to notice vividly. The best way to unfold the story is to give a central idea and let the readers visualize each scene themselves.
Create an emotional journey
Why stop at letting the readers create their own opinion about your memoir? Why not excel a little more and leave them with their mouths open in awe or crying tears of sympathy for an emotional journey that motivates them to read the next chapter. This will allow your reader to tell your memoir to their friends and family. According to Steven, the best way to evoke your reader’s feelings is to connect them with your emotions as the protagonist.
“I used to write for myself, but now things have changed a little because I didn’t connect much with my readers when I used to write for myself. So to make it simple, I started to write for my readers and not only myself. I want my readers to love what I write even more than I do.This helped me to explore new ways of writing, and I believe everyone who wishes to write a well-connected memoir should follow this advice,” says Steven Nickodemski.