9 Pieces of Memoir Writing Advice from 8 Great Sources

William Zinsser: “Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it’s because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives.”

Gore Vidal: “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life.”

Patricia Hampl: “You can’t put much on paper before you betray your secret self, try as you will to keep things civil.”

And also Patricia Hampl: “I don’t write about what I know: I write in order to find out what I know.”

Darin Strauss: “I think each family has a funhouse logic all its own, and in that distortion, in that delusion, all behavior can seem both perfectly normal and crazy.”

David Ben-Gurion: “Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”

Joan Didion: “Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.”

Stephen King: “The scariest moment is always just before you start.  After that, things can only get better.”

Gloria Steinem: “Just remember, you can’t divorce a book.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald: “What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.”
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4 Comments

Filed under book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, Uncategorized

4 responses to “9 Pieces of Memoir Writing Advice from 8 Great Sources

  1. The Zinsser method is what I live by. Start with the most heartfelt moment, no matter what it is. No matter how apparently trivial. And work down your own personal hierarchy to to the lesser felt moments. When you hit 70-90,000 words, poof, you’re done! (Just kidding about that last part.)

  2. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    … following your blog …

    – Oh God, My Wife Is German.

  3. One of my favorite quote!

    My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.
    Anais Nin

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