How to Start a memoir
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Writing a memoir is like jerking off your thoughts.
It’s so fuckin relaxing to let out all those sentences thatta been bangin into each other inside your head and clanging against your memory clouding your vision. And there’s no research involved cause you were there. You saw it all. No need to think anything through. You know how to write a memoir. Just tell the tale of what happened. There’re no rules, you can break any “writing” rule you want. Fuck rules. Writing is for college students. Stories are for humans. What happened? That’s all you gotta do when telling your story. So long as I’m not confused and you’re being honest, I’m enthralled.
And writer’s block is easily solved when you just ask yourself a few questions:
What story do you tell most?
Who in that story is most memorable?
Why do you remember what happened?
Tell a million stories if you want, and you should, but start with the ones you always tell. Not sure which stories you always tell? Just ask your kids, or your partner, or best friend. Someone will be more than happy to let you know the fuckin story you never shut up about. Time to write that shit down and tell the REAL story about what REALY happened… That’s right, I don’t mean what happened in the line at the grocery story when the cashier tried to short-change you. I mean what happened in your head, between your ears in the moment preceding that event you won’t shut up about, how you felt while it was happening, and what you did afterwards–more importantly, how you felt. What were you thinking about? This is the story people wanna hear (even your nephew). True honesty is so hard to come by that when we taste it, we just wanna guzzle it all down.
Not sure what the next sentence should be after the cashier story? Here’s how to solve that: what happened next? There ya go. Write that. What’d he say? What’d she do? How’d that feel? What’d you think about that?
Don’t Write About Your Whole Life in Your Memoir
The reason you don’t wanna write about your whole life is because:
a) who the fuck wants to do that? That’ll take forever. Just pick one time period of life or even an event you wanna detail and simply say what happened. Don’t “write” what happened. Just say it.
b) if you wanna make money as a writer, or at least make enough to market your own books (which you should 100% do. Why the fuck write a book if you’re scared of people reading it?), then you’ll need to write more than one. So, keep some stories for later.
c) people don’t wanna read a thousand-page book. Sure I read Crime and Punishment, but it took me forever.
I can hear you through my google doc. You’re saying: GREG! I DON’T FUCKIN KNOW WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT! YOUR STORY IS NUTS AND MINE IS NORMAL!
Whoooaaaaaaa hold the FUCK on…
I have wonderful news for you: Every single story is interesting.
Yep. The most mundane of one-liners can be riveting. Let me tell you about what happened this morning…
My wrist woke me up from my watch vibrating. I looked at the time and it was 6:30am. Okay. Why am I awake? Oh right, I started this new workout thing. Gotta go to the gym and eat oatmeal. I started to reach for my water–FUCK! STOP!
Just then I remembered to slow my breathing and not make any noise. One wrong move and the cat will start pounding on the door, meowing like a hungry lion. Then the dog will wake up. Then everything will be chaos. I just need a few minutes to wake up. So I breathed lightly and made movements carefully.
First thing I had to do was cure my thirst. I was thirsty, as are most people in the morning, and even if you’re not thirsty, you should drink a big cup of water, right? I think so at least. Anyway, so I slowly turned my body over on my right side to face my nightstand where my water was and…
Where’s my water? FUCK! I forgot to get water?! I gotta lay here in silence with a dry throat!? Then I saw the Polar Bear seltzer on the carpet next to my bed. Oh, I do have something to drink.
But tomorrow I should def get water cause I’m really not in the mood for seltzer so early. At night it seems like a good idea cause it’s already in the room and I’m too lazy to grab the mason jar and fill up the water filter after topping off my glass. Back to the seltzer…
I reached down and opened the bottle and
“CHSSSHHHHHHHHHHhhh,” the seltzer said as the bubbles rushed to the top of the bottle as I unscrewed the cap.
That’s when I heard it…
The bell dinged.
The bell around the cat’s neck. She has this collar with a bell so we can hear where she is. She’s so small and she’s the same color as the furniture so she blends in with everything so that’s why she now wears this bell around her neck.
I heard more dings.
She’s seriously up.
Fuck. It’s only a matter of–
She starts body-slamming the door to let me know it’s time for me to get the fuck outa bed. Thumper gets angry if she knows you’re awake and not out of the room. Then Lola stood up from her dog bed, stretched it out, did her shake, and waited by the door.
See not only did the kitty wake me up, but her morning routine of body-slamming the door in woke Lola up too and reminded her that she had to pee just like I had to pee. So now all three of us animals except for my wife-to-be are awake. Me, Thumper, and Lola.
I rush to put on my sweatpants for the gym but my leg got caught in the fabric.
Don’t you hate that?
I twist and flatten my foot so that it’d slide easily through the leg hole and not get stuck but still it got stuck on every tug.
I could hear Thumper getting frustrated and her level 2 body slamming the door even harder came to play. And here’s the thing about the door: I couldn’t just open it cause Thumper’s not allowed in the room. That’s Lola’s space. And me and Daryl. Daryl is a woman btw. Sometimes people think I’m gay when I say my partner is Daryl–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyway, the meows were growing fierce.
So I stumble to the door and duck down to catch her from running in the room when I open the door and:
GOT YA BITCH!
Then Lola strolled past her like the bad bitch she is and headed straight for the door. I closed the bedroom door to let Daryl continue sleeping and put Thumper down. She then started her next morning routine of running full speed from kitchen to living room, living room to office, office to bathroom, and back again.
Lola is waiting for me.
Fuck I gotta pee first.
Wait Lola, WAIT!
I also had my mouthguard in. So many things had to be done before Lola could go out. And THEN…
Then nothing. It was a normal fuckin morning. But see my point here is any story can be riveting as long as you’re honest and create some suspense.
Trivial thoughts and feelings make any story come to life
None of us relate to your life events. But all of us relate to your feelings you had during those events and the thoughts you had while it was all happening. After all, the feelings wheel only has so many options. No matter what you’re writing about, it made you feel something I have felt, and whatever was happening, you thought shit I have thought.
You’d be surprised how interesting the dumbest of shit is when you’re honest about how it made you feel and the thoughts that came to mind when it happened.
Just think of Seinfeld or Curb. They master that shit perfectly. Telling stories about nothing but doing it with thoughts and feelings said out loud.
So if you wanna know how to write a memoir all you have to do is pick the time period or event you talk about most and start writing. Again, make sure it’s not too many events cause if you wanna ever make money from your books you’ll need to write more than one. Don’t blow your whole load on one volume.
I’m on volume 4 right now and I’m not even close to done. Anyway, there’s a bit more to my process. I actually broke it down into a five-step process.
Gonna be teaching it soon. If you wanna hop on the waiting list and get notified when the Memoir Workshop opens up, just add your name to the list below.