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Answer these four big picture questions to find your memoir’s focus

ball of tangled thread

Pulling a cohesive thread out of the chaos of a life can be challenging. The sooner you can figure out what slice of your life you want to write about, the sooner you will be able to focus on the most relevant events for your memoir and their meaning.

Start with these four areas of reflection:

Turning points  – What were key moments that brought major and minor changes? Some of these can be parents divorcing, the death of a loved one, or struggles by another family member that changed how you look at or experience life.

Big dreams and hopes – What was and is your dream for yourself?

Struggles/Successes (conflict) – What happened in your life to thwart or fulfill your hopes and dreams?

Change – After everything you experienced, how did you change? What’s different now than you thought it would be? How did the events you’re writing about – turning points, hopes, and struggles — work to make you who you are now?

Memoir requires self reflection, and in the process of it, you will find the answers you need to move your story forward.

Exercise: Take out a piece of paper or open a new document on your computer and write out the answers to the questions. Start a notebook for your memoir project and use these answers as a guide as you write. They’ll give you a focus and spark writing ideas

To delve further into your memoir’s meaning, ask these 11 questions.

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