Writing your personal story isn’t a new idea – people have been writing about themselves since papyrus came into vogue. Researching and documenting your life – from posting pictures on social media to signing up for a DNA test – is a popular endeavor for people of all ages, but those who have lived a full life have many reasons to wish to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and record their life’s history, including:

  • To leave a legacy for their children, heirs and other family members
  • To inspire others through lessons learned via experiences they have overcome
  • To work through past hurts and heal old wounds through introspection
  • To memorialize a landmark event, anniversary or milestone birthday
  • To preserve memories
  • To embark upon an exciting adventure and life project
  • To complement a DNA or genealogical search

Should you write an autobiography or a memoir? While it really doesn’t make much difference—heck, they are grouped together in bookstores, online and in libraries—the differences may help you to “nail down” your book goals a little better. 

An autobiography is the story of a person’s life—from birth onward—including details about facts, dates,  locations and events. A memoir is a story FROM a person’s life, whether it be about a specific event, theme, time period or relationship. An autobiography is generally set chronologically, but a memoir could begin and end at any point, or even present sections in flashbacks or in other time-altering manners.

There are different types of memoirs, including:

  • Personal memoir – this is often based on one experience or event, such as child abuse, dysfunctional family, divorce, illness, survival or adventure. 
  • Professional memoir – the story of a person’s job or professional career
  • Coming of age memoir – this focuses on the time period and development from childhood to adulthood. 
  • Spiritual quest memoir – a memoir of a writer’s search for meaning 
  • Travel memoir – focuses on the writer’s experience traveling. Often the writer narrates a story about a personal adventure.
  • Confessional memoir – the writer confesses his/her sins or wrongdoings and how he/she made amends or reformed his/her ways.
  • Political memoir – written by a person who holds public office. Almost all Presidents write memoirs as a form of historical record and to share their experiences. Most Prime Ministers write memoirs of their experiences in political office, as well.
  • Transformational memoir – the story of a person’s addiction/recovery

So join the fun and write YOUR book! Whether you end up with a notebook filled with memories or a fully published book, the memories and adventure of writing are not to be missed.