#Writing in #Memoir


writing memoir

Writing in memoir can be a painful experience. I know how many times I’ve heard this from fellow memoir writers, and I can certainly attest to this.


As writers, we all go through the cycle of self-doubt, writers block, frustration, jubilation, and of course, all of our emotions are touched while bringing our characters to life when using some of our own experiences in our stories. There’s no difference in whether our books are factual or fiction because there is much truth in fiction too.


Memoir writing brings its own special kind of pain – the pain of having to relive unhappy moments over and over again, not just while we write and conjure up these painful memories, but again in re-writes, revisions, and edits, while we polish our stories. The process becomes similar to going to a therapy session where we bear our raw selves and hurts to a specialist until we can reach some resolution while remembering emotional pain.


I know that my writing in memoir takes me back to some dark places in time, and quite often I have to put the pen down, or walk away from the computer for an emotional time out to distance myself from the past abyss of emotional pain.


Writing in memoir is writing raw. Not only do we have to relive unpleasant memories to be able to convey our stories, but we’re baring and sharing our souls to the world once published. It takes a lot of guts to write in memoir – to face our demons and share them publicly. So what’s in it for me despite the pain?


  • My aim is to help others who can not only relate to my stories, but to offer hope for those who share similar struggles in their own lives and hoping they can take in some encouragement from my own lessons learned and my own resolutions.
  • By the time I’ve finished writing and re-writing, I discover the catharsis in my own revelations. The process becomes similar to one of those long sessions I might have otherwise have had with a therapist who helped me to discover resolution and peace to my inner conflicts.

I came across an interesting quote regarding the pain of writing in memoir.

tell your stories


25 thoughts on “#Writing in #Memoir

  1. The therapy used for PTSD is to go back, over and over, reliving the events and putting them firmly back into the past where they belong. Writing your own story does that too…if you let it. I know that telling Nick’s story was instrumental in my own healing from those horrendous events.


    1. Excellent summation Sue. Hence the quote, about telling your story over and over until it doesn’t make you cry. I know I find with my writing that there is definitely a sense of healing once the book is born. πŸ™‚


  2. Lovely post, Debby. I can imagine it’s a process that takes lots of courage. I’m in awe of memoir writers and the raw honesty and clarity that’s needed to gather up, revisit, and share their experiences. Kudos to you πŸ™‚ ❀


    1. Thanks Diana. Writing any book takes courage I should think. Only memoir dredges up some unpleasant things, adding to the writing process. πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you so much Jacqui for your comment and reading my book. It was a difficult book to write and even more so to publish. And somehow the process of writing offers a sense of healing. My sequel will be out next month completing the healing process. πŸ™‚


  3. Yes. “Writing in memoir is writing raw”

    Some people say writing memoir is freeing and helps them deal with experiences while others say it drags them through the experience and makes them relive it again. I’ve written some nonfiction but small pieces. I don’t know how I would write a lengthy memoir.


    1. Thanks for sharing Sarah. As a memoir writer I’d say that it is freeing, but in order to get to that stage, we first have to relive uncomfortable memories. πŸ™‚


  4. I can relate with your post very well. It took me three years and many times off in between doing the book about my son after losing him. Yet this is cathartic, and I did not only find healing, I find hope and life again writing from this raw of emotions. Thanks for this great post πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you so much Aui for sharing your painful experience. It is comforting for us when we find some resolution in our hearts. We will never forget, but somehow releasing our pain makes it much easier to bear. πŸ™‚


  5. True… Yes the experience is raw… And I know every time I think I have healed when I mention my mother, that pain even though it is lesser is still there.. So the healing is not complete.. Even though often I tell myself it is..

    I helped some one the other day who said she had been told it was wrong to write about herself and her pain.. I told her that writing helps us heal.. Writing Memoirs I am sure is a great healer

    Releasing those painful memories hard as it is, is helping us let go of them.. For it takes courage to speak out and open up to personal wounds… Once open they do not fester as much as they do when we leave them locked inside.

    Loved reading Debby..
    Sue <3.


    1. Thank you so much Sue for sharing your soul here. Yes, you are right, we can’t erase the memories of painful moments, but after writing and reading our stories many times, we can find a place of acceptance in our hearts where it will remain, but no longer has to bleed. ❀ xoxo


  6. “The process becomes similar to going to a therapy session where we bear our raw selves and hurts to a specialist until we can reach some resolution while remembering emotional pain.” I agree–and I love the combo of writing to understand myself and talking to my long-time therapist about what I’m discovering. That brings even more insight. Most of us have unhappy or unresolved memories. Whenever or whatever I write, I go into myself in a new way and learn new things. I usually find memoir more interesting than fiction or even creative nonfiction because I love watching this process of self-revelation in others.

    I’ll likely always cry about things I love, things I find beautiful, moments of joy, and things I miss. So that means I may always weep a little when I remember Vic. I don’t mind. My tears tell me where the love lies.


    1. Thanks for quoting me and sharing your beautiful self Elaine. And thanks for sharing your take on what you get from memoir writing yourself. We understand a lot more through writing, I feel. I never had the luxury of a therapist, so my writing has helped immensely, and the wonderful people in the blogging community I have befriended a truly inspirational. ❀


  7. I relate to this – all of it, including comments. In addition to memoir writing as therapy, cathartic sometimes, it helps the writer (me!) to make sense of my life, particularly the painful parts of my early years. Elaine says, “My tears tell me where the love lies,” which explains my tears this week on the 2nd anniversary of my mother’s passing. Great post!


    1. Thank you Marian. No doubt as a memoir writer, you can relate to the cathartic release. πŸ™‚ Elaine has such a beautiful way with words. And I resonated with the quote I shared because I know how many tears I shed writing my newest book. And after so many times of reading it over in rewrites, eventually I could read it without wrenching my heart. πŸ™‚


  8. What a great quote!
    I find myself using memories that hold strong emotions as scenes in my novels, sometimes not even recognising this until I’m ready to stand back and look at the novel from an editing perspective.
    It certainly helps the raw impact of a scene, and perhaps it’s something I need to do, to help work that particular issue through – there’s certainly some of that in the one I’m editing right now, and I think (hope) it’s going to bring a fair degree of that cathartic effect to me, even though it is couched in a fictional manner.


    1. Thanks Deb. You know what they say . . . there’s truth in fiction. And so true, it’s the editing process that brings things to light, where we find our little gems. I resonated with that quote when I saw it a long time ago. I find it so true. πŸ™‚


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