How To Write a Family Memoir

A family memoir is an interesting way to learn and discover your own family history. Making a genealogy chart is a long and arduous process, but it is very rewarding, in writing your family memoir, you will preserve family memories for future generations, and discover something about your own history as well. It’s a collection of events written down to showcase different family members and your thoughts on these people and events as they occurred.

Here’s how to write a family memoir.

  • Start with what you know. Start journaling or typing in significant events in your experience. You can write out a family tree, as you know it and work from there. You may start off with your parents. Write down the things that come to mind that you though were especially significant, even if it was a mundane occurrence. For example, you may write about your monthly Saturday morning fishing trip with your dad. Even if you didn’t catch anything, you can write about how you enjoyed your special time together.
  • Gather your materials. Use old diaries, journals, scrapbooks and even family albums make great resource materials. If you can, check out the microfilm file in the library. The library in the Church of the Latter Day Saints also makes for a great genealogical reference. Interview family members to help you reconstruct past events, so you don’t miss out on any important details.
  • Weave the events in your family as it unfolds in history. For example, what significant family event or how were you affected by 9/11 or World War II? Using history as the backdrop, you can showcase how your family survived, thrived or was challenged giving an external and historical event.
  • Don’t be too attached to everything. You will need to edit things down to keep the momentum of your narrative interesting. One of the challenges of writing a memoir is narrowing down the truly important or significant events. You will also need to narrow down the scope of how far back you will go with your family history.
  • Write about your sentiments from today’s perspective. Perhaps you took for granted the time you spent with you kids, but with hindsight, you can write about what you learned and how a specific moment has shaped you.
  • Be realistic about the time and amount of effort it will take to get this project done. You will be incorporating an entire lifetime of events so give yourself adequate time to get things done. You will also need to set aside a specific number of hours a week to be able to sit down and write, record or transcribe.
  • Find a theme that resonates in your family. For example, after writing about all the financial hardships, divorces and tragedies that have befallen your family, you may be able to see how adversity has made your family a stronger and more cohesive unit. What lesson is predominant in the events occurring in your family life? Other common themes include how you are a family of self made men, or perhaps a family of pioneers and survivors.

You may be surprised at how your memoir turns out and what you learn about yourself in the process. Take the time to make one, because every family is important, and there are things to learn and gain from in every experience.


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