5 Memoir #Quotes and How To #Write A #Memoir | Scott Berkun

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memoir quotes


 William Zinsser

“To write a good memoir you must become the editor of your own life, imposing on an untidy sprawl of half-remembered events a narrative shape and organizing idea.  Memoir is the art of inventing the truth.”


Anne Lamott

Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may have been raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point to you, while a chilling voice thundered, “We *told* you not to tell.” But that was then. Just put down on paper everything you can remember now about your parents and siblings and relatives and neighbors, and we will deal with libel later on.”


Gloria Swanson

I’ve given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can’t divorce a book.”


Salman Rushdie

Someone asked me if I was afraid to write my memoirs. I told him: We have to stop drawing up accounts of fear! We live in a society in which people are allowed to tell their story, and that is what I do.”


William Faulkner

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


I came across this succinct description of writing in memoir I wanted to share here by Scott Berkun  who is a very successful writer and memoirist. He wrote a fascinating and finely detailed accounting of all that is involved in writing memoir. In his post he also includes lots of helpful tips as well as a list of references to books, helpful for writing in memoir.

How To Write A Memoir | Scott Berkun.


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  1. Right down my alley – I’m bookmarking this post for sure. you are a mind reader, Debby. Thank you!

    1. Oh great Marian. I’m always happy to share helpful stuff. Glad you found it helpful. 🙂

  2. Amazing quotes. I never really thought about how much of writing a memoir is about shushing the fear and scripting the truth. Thanks for sharing these!

    1. Thanks Diana. Oh yes, there is lots of fear to shush. We have to grow some very thick skin. 🙂

      1. Or just laugh, Debby. Probably a little of both 🙂

        1. I’m learning to do that now D. 🙂

  3. Wish I could re-blog this 🙁

    1. Hi Alex, I’m flattered you want to reblog this. As you may know, self-hosted sites don’t have the ‘reblog’ button available. But we all have the availability of ‘press this’ tool in our dashboards. You can get it by going into your dashboard, clicking on tools, and download the ‘press this’ marklet, and keep it on your top bar of your page or in your ‘favorites’. Then whenever you come across an article you’d like to repost, just click on your marklet while you’re on the page and it will open a draft with the link to the blog you want to add. Once you have the draft page set up with the link, if you want to go back to that blog to copy and paste part of the blog to your draft you can.
      PS. At the very least if you find that confusing and you ever want to repost something, just copy the link yourself to the page you like and paste it in a new draft and go from there.
      I hope I didn’t confuse you, but gave you some food for thought. 🙂

      1. O.K. — Installed Press This — went to you post and press the button — added a bit of my own words — it looked like I was publishing to my blog but it’s not there — where do Press This thingies go???

      2. OOPS — when I refreshed my blog page, I was in a particular post, not the home page — I found my Press This of your post 🙂

        1. So did you figure it out Alex, or do you need some help? 🙂

  4. Memoir really is the art of inventing the truth. I’ve always been intrigued by how no two people will remember a shared event the same way. Do I have the guts to put various slices of my topsy-turvy life into memoir? Time will tell.

    1. Hi Jeri. Thanks for sharing that comment. It’s so true, that everyone has his/her own rendition of what they’ve experienced. But as many good books on memoir say, memoir is truth, it is the writer’s truth, the way the writer experienced it. 🙂 Now go on, give it a go! 🙂

  5. These are wonderful memoir quotes Debby, and I loved Scott Berkun’s article too, which I read via your FB link. Thanks so much for much for sharing these…just what I needed as I press on with my edits 🙂 <3

    1. I’m so glad you took a look at Scott’s page. He is a wealth of information. Thanks so much for taking the time to read Sherri. <3

      1. He is indeed, and thanks so much for pointing the way Debby! <3

  6. Hi Debby,
    I love Faulkner.

    1. Hi Janice, me too. Did you notice my ‘StumbleUpon’ button? Thanks for the crash course! 🙂

      1. I did notice! Good job!

        1. Thank you great social media teacher and sharer! <3

  7. Telling the truth, as we know it, isn’t always e.a.s.y.
    Love the quotes, Debby. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Thanks for dropping by Tess. <3

      1. You are welcome, Debby. I will be m.o.r.e absent, more like I’m supposed for for the next while. I am NOT ignoring you. <3

        1. You’re too sweet! I would never think that! I hope it’s for good reasons. <3 I always admire the way you can take a time out and find a way to catch up! Don't leave us too long! xo :

          1. Life has taken off at a fast pace and I’m just trying to keep up… 😎

          2. Well enjoy the ride, and don’t sweat it Tess! 🙂

  8. I have no intention of writing a memoir (living it once was plenty), but it’s still very interesting information. Thanks for sharing, Debby. And congrats on the great review. Hugs.

    1. Thanks so much Teag. You don’t have to tell me about reliving it! 🙂 Have a spooktacular weekend! xo 🙂

  9. Read every word of Scott’s brilliant post. Got me thinking about the secret reason I wrote my book. I believed I wasn’t seeking revenge on my despicable family members but I must admit that when I heard they were upset about the story being out there (despite their names not being included) I did get a tiny twinge of satisfaction about some justice being done. Must rethink my motivation but in the meantime, this is a great post for anyone considering writing a true story. It’s not for the fainthearted!

    1. Hi Deb. Thanks for your honesty. Ya, that article really hits home on some sore spots huh? As for fainthearted, writing memoir takes a lot of courage; if not to write, certainly to publish. 🙂

  10. These are all great quotes. I love Anne Lamott. Her book Bird by Bird is a great book on writing.

    1. Thanks Carol. Yes, I have that book too. 🙂

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