A Guide on How to Write a Memoir | The Urban Writers

Tell Your Story: Publishing Memoirs and Autobiographies

by The Urban Writers

You live your life as the main character in your own story, so why not share that story with the world? Who knows you better than yourself?

If you want a way to tell others about your life or inspire them by sharing what you’ve been through, you should publish your life story.

Memoir vs. Autobiography

Memoirs and autobiographies are both subsections of the nonfiction genre. They both deal with the author’s life, but there are some differences between the two. Before you decide what you’d like to write, make sure you know the scope of each book.

What Is a Memoir?

A memoir is a book that takes a deep dive into a certain experience or time in your life. This is usually related to a larger theme, like grief, acceptance, coming of age, and more.

Memoirs focus more on the way the author thinks, feels, and reacts to the situations they’re writing about. It’s an immersive reading experience for the audience. They will get to know the author in an intimate way.

Because these books are more personal, you won’t have to adhere as strongly to facts and timelines. You’re free to have more artistic license when you’re writing a memoir.

When thinking about how to write a memoir, find an overarching theme you’d like to write about. If you’ve experienced a lot of loss, you might choose that as your theme. It doesn’t mean everything you write will deal with loss, because you’ll also focus on your emotions.

You don’t want readers to get caught up in the facts of your specific experience. You want them to experience the same feelings you did. If you really master your memoir, you’ll not only make them feel empathy for you but also help them deal with their own emotions on the manuscript’s theme.

What Is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a story of a person’s entire life that they write from their own point of view. It helps the reader understand what you’ve been through and all they’ve accomplished.


Don’t get an autobiography confused with a biography! Biographies are usually written by historians or anyone other than the subject of the story.

Autobiographies are more engaging than biographies because they’re not only sharing information; you’re sharing your personal life, your struggles, and your successes. You want readers to root for you, feel like they know you, and relate to you.

If you’re writing an autobiography, you want to make sure you have enough interesting information to hook readers. You might be well-known or have accomplished something innovative in your career.

To prepare yourself for the autobiography writing process, you’ll want to do a lot of research. Yes, you’re telling your life story and you already know that very well. But you’ll want to have facts about certain experiences and time periods so your work won’t be discredited.

What to Include in Your Life Story

Autobiographies and memoirs often read like fiction, which is why you see them on the bestseller list so often. Before you start outlining your manuscript, think about what you should write: an autobiography or a memoir?

If you want to tell your entire life story and share facts about yourself, you’ll want the structure of an autobiography. If you want to explore a specific time in your life and talk more about your emotions on that theme, you’ll want the freedom of a memoir.

Your Personal Life

You want your reader to know who you are. For an autobiography, it’s crucial to give background information about your lineage, your birthplace, and your childhood. For how to write a memoir, you don’t have to be as specific, but you want the reader to understand where you’re coming from.

By giving that initial framework, the reader will be more invested in your story. They’ll understand your background and how you worked to overcome it. It will give them the context necessary to understand why your story is important.

A Turning Point

In autobiography writing, turning points are crucial because they help the reader map out your life. They’ll understand why one experience made you make a certain choice or change your career.

Your story

When you’re writing a memoir, a turning point will be less about fact and more about emotion. You want to share why the turning point made you react the way you did. The readers will understand the significance of the event.

These turning points also help develop you as a character. They will give the reader insight into who you are, why you made the choices you did, and how you became the person you are today. These elements are important to progressing your life story.

A Failure to Overcome

It can be tough to admit your failures, but when you’re writing about your life, you have to be willing to bare it all. Sharing your failures will help readers relate to you. They’ll see that you’re an average person, just like them, who tries and fails and still manages to do something great.

Sharing failures will not only make you seem more relatable but also more inspirational. Everyone likes to read about people overcoming their struggles, so sharing your failures will make your book a more enticing read.

How to Write Your Memoir or Autobiography

Now that you understand the differences between memoirs and autobiographies and the elements that each manuscript needs, you’re ready to get to work! These steps will walk you through compiling your book.


When you’re brainstorming your own life, take notes about the major experiences that made you who you are today. Start with your birth, even if you’re writing a memoir. You don’t have to include all of these experiences in your book, but it will open your mind to the possibilities.

Sometimes you might find that things you’ve been through mirror what your parents, grandparents, or ancestors experienced as well. Brainstorming is the perfect stage to delve into your family history to see what connections you can make to the past.


After finding so much information during your brainstorming session, you’ll now work to shape it into a story outline. You might have set out to write an autobiography, but brainstorming showed you that you have material more suited for a memoir.

You can write an outline by going through your memories chronologically. You might find that it works better to group experiences by broader periods of two to five years so the timeline is a bit blurred.

As you’re structuring your memoir, you might find that it would work well to break your feelings up into larger sections instead of chapters. Or you might only have a general idea of how you want your book to be structured. The outline doesn’t have to be set in stone—it can change as you write!


Start writing your story! Keep in mind you don’t have to get it all perfect on the first try. Write a draft of your story following your outline. Then take a break from the process so you don’t feel burned out.

When you come back to your draft, read it over and see what jumps out to you. You might find that you need to add details to certain sections. Maybe what you thought was the theme of your memoir isn’t actually there.

At this stage, you can go back to your outline and revise it if necessary. Then you’ll have a new roadmap for the second draft of your book. Again, take a break and come back to it. You can write as many drafts as necessary before it’s just right.

How TUW Can Help

If you’re leading a fascinating life, you might not have the time or really know how to write a memoir or autobiography. That’s where The Urban Writers can help. We have different tiers of writing packages that can help you tell your story.


It might seem strange to have someone else telling your life story, but these days about 60 percent of memoirs are ghostwritten. Just because celebrities are interesting doesn’t mean they’re capable writers or have time to share their lives.

The process of ghostwriting your memoir with The Urban Writers works as it does for celebrities. You’ll compile your notes or write an outline, and our ghostwriters will pick up where you left off! You might even choose to collaborate with a writer on the outline stage.

You can even upload audio files so the ghostwriter can literally hear the voice they’ll be writing as. Audio files also make it easier on you, the customer, to share your story without having to sit at the computer and format your notes.

In addition to stellar ghostwriters, The Urban Writers have a team of professionals that can provide other services to streamline your publishing process.

If you write your own autobiography or memoir, you can hire an editor through The Urban Writers to polish your manuscript. You can also get a quality cover design to make your memoir stand out in the Kindle store.

Final Thoughts

Sharing your life story is a great way to ensure your legacy makes an impact on the world.

Whether you write your memoir or autobiography yourself or employ a ghostwriter to streamline the process, you deserve to be heard! Contact the team at The Urban Writers to find out more information about how to publish your life story.

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