Getting Started Writing Your Memoirs

Old Photographs Help Trigger Memories by Bea Sheftel

Old photographs, even those taken before you were born, will help you write your memoirs. What can you find in your old albums.

I found a bunch of old, black and white photos at my mother's home after she and my father passed away. Some were taken ten years or so before I was born. I love these photos because they show my parents as young, happy and carefree.

This photo shows my parents before they were married with my father's family. My mother is in the front row last one on the right. My father is in the back row, the last one on the left.They were all at a camp in upstate New York.They went with my father's brothers and their spouses. My mother told me even though they were married, they were separated the men in one sleeping area, the women in another.

They all slept in ruggard cabins in bunk beds. They had a lot of fun even though the accommodations were primitive.The photos give me more insights into their romance. They really did seem to be in love with the world open before them. True, life and troubles entered their marriage. There was unemployment and financial trouble.

There were times my brother, sister and I doubted our parents even loved each other. Looking at these old photos gives me a new perspective on the real truth behind their lives.

As you prepare to write your memoirs check and see what you can find to tell you the story behind the story. What is hidden in old boxes, scrapbooks, or the attic in your home or your parent's home? Look for those old fading photos. Preserve them by scanning them into your computer or having them copied on photo paper at the printers. Use them to augment your lifestory.

As you write remember your words will be the ones handed down to the next generation. What you write will become the truth. As you look back and write about the past you are also creating a living history.

Be sure to include world events for perspective, as well as family events in your memoir. Start by writing in a journal. Give yourself a chance to write at your leisure without pressure. You can always revise what you write, but first you have to write it.

ENJOY. Writing your memoirs can be fun!


The Following article is by a guest writer

From Journal to Print

by By Lisa Kaufman

Some people begin writing in a diary when they’re young, locking it away from the prying eyes of siblings. That’s not me. I began journaling four years ago during a time of emotional turmoil.

I desperately needed an outlet for the feelings that welled up inside me. Journaling was the answer but over time it became much more. Little did I know that it would become the catalyst for my writing career. It freed up my long suppressed desire to write and gave me ideas for stories I knew I had to tell.

One such memory became an essay entitled “Driving Away”. It was first penned in the pages of my journal as I explored the strict and sheltered way I was raised. Later, as a gift for my father, I included it in a book of memories. I changed the slant from blaming my father to thanking him for his endless supply of love and guidance. I wanted him to know that as an adult I finally understood how complicated it is to be a parent. On the urging of a friend I submitted this second version of “Driving Away” to Kay Allenbaugh, the editor of Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul.

I was overwhelmed when she quickly wrote back asking to use it in her book series. But there was a catch. It would need to be revised again. She was interested in using it in her teen series so I had to change the ending and maintain a teenagers point of view throughout the essay. No small task but I did it. To my father’s chagrin soon everyone who reads the sequel to Chocolate for a Teen’s Soul will know how he followed me to school everyday, making sure that I, indeed, knew how to drive.

As I write in it everyday my journal continues to provide me with inspiration. Some of the memories and anecdotes I use to write personal essays about my experiences or as a tribute to those who have touched my life in some way. Other I use as the basis for a fictional character, story idea, or plot line. When I am writing in my journal I don’t think about what I will do with it later. It’s a way to release the pressure of day-to-day life and deal with my past.

I find my inspiration when I look back at old journal entries. This gives my emotions time to cool off. Then I am able to see my entries more clearly, since I enjoy writing balanced pieces that are uplifting and not as an outlet for past pain. The way I write in my journal is very different from the way I write a manuscript for submission. My messy journals as filled with free, rambling thought and then I have to go back, searching for the bits of memories that have surfaced, my diamonds in the rough, waiting to be refined and shared with others.


Lisa Kaufman is the mother of two wonderful boys, a wife, and a writer who enjoys the slow paced life of rural Alabama. Her work has appeared in Cranial Tempest, Portals Poetry Journal, Eleven Bulls, and Comrades. She is a proud staff member of Poetic Voices, Poetic Voices was recently chosen by Writers Digest as one of the 101 best websites for writers.

Lisa's poetry may be viewed at Look Inside Poetry Zine, Poetry Zine

Select a Memoir Book for your collection

The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs by Stephen Pavuk, et al (Hardcover - ) Avg. Customer Rating: Editions: Hardcover | more...

Out of Print--Limited Availability Used & new from $21.00

The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs by Stephen Pavuk, et al (Hardcover - ) Avg. Customer Rating: Editions: Hardcover | more...

Out of Print--Limited Availability Used & new from $21.00