10 Memoir Writing Prompts to Get Your Life Story Started

by Joe Bunting | 0 comments

Want to write a memoir but not sure how to get started? I've got you covered. In this post, I'm sharing my ten best creative writing prompts for memoir writers.

Top 10 Memoir Writing Prompts

Ready to take the next step and learn how to write a memoir? Check out my complete guide, Write a Great Memoir: How to Start (and Actually Finish) Your First Draft.

If you need a quick prompt, check out my five favorite memoir writing prompts below. Or, keep reading for an expanded list of all ten prompts.

My 5 Favorite Memoir Writing Prompts

  • Write about a life or death situation you've experienced.
  • Describe your own meet cute. Think back to the first time you met the love of your life.
  • You've traveled through time and encounter a younger version of yourself. What life lesson would you share?
  • What is one moment where you were afraid to do something but did it anyway?
  • Write about one encounter with death.
  • Read on for more!

How to Write a Memoir

We've looked at detail at How to Write a Memoir, but just to recap, remember that a memoir is not a list of all the events spanning your entire life. That might be a good starting place for ideas, but it isn't a memoir. It isn't your full life story either. It isn't a family history (although those can be fun). 

A memoir is more like a personal narrative essay, only in a longer format. What does that mean? It means that you choose a significant event or period of your life when something changed. The most powerful memoirs are laser focused on those moments of crisis when you had to choose one thing, knowing you would lose something else. 

Use These Memoir Writing Prompts to Get Started

Ready to write a book about your life? Get started by using these prompts. Then tell us which prompt you chose and share up to 250 words of your writing in the practice link below.

1. Afraid

2. Area of Expertise

Make a list of every area of expertise you have, e.g. writing, playing an instrument, the history of 18th century French history, etc. Then choose one of those areas of expertise and write for fifteen minutes about what you've learned about that expertise. Begin every paragraph with the phrase, “I learned . . .”

3. Meet Cute

Describe your own meet cute. Think back to the first time you met the love of your life. Describe the situation and how you felt the first time you saw them.

4. Betrayed

Share the story of one time you were betrayed.

5. Death

Have you ever encountered death? Either the death of a loved one, animal, or stranger? Write about your encounter with death and how you experienced it.

6. Adventure

What is the biggest adventure you've ever experienced? Write about it.

7. Life Lesson

You've traveled through time and encounter a younger version of yourself (choose one of the following ages: seven, fifteen, seventeen, twenty-three, or thirty-one). What life lesson would you share with yourself? Tell yourself the story of how you learned that lesson.

8. Surroundings

Describe your surroundings right now. What memories do your surroundings evoke?

9. Life or Death

Write about a life or death situation you've experienced.

10. Too Much Good

Think of one moment in your life when you had to choose between two very good things, like love or money, fun or responsibility, happiness or duty. Then write about it.

Bonus Prompts!

Here are a few additional prompts to get your memoir ideas rolling. 

11. Write about your earliest memory. Why do you think it stands out? 

12. Think of a major life event. What was front and center in the life experience? What was at the edges? What changed in that moment? 

13. Tell the story of a family heirloom that you've received or passed down. 

14. Write a personal history about the lasting impact of a specific person in your life. 

15. Write about a historical event that touched your life directly.

Become a Better Memoir Writer by Reading a Great Memoir

One of the best ways to learn how to write a memoir is to read memoirs. And it just so happens that I've written a memoir, Crowdsourcing Paris, about a real-life adventure story I experienced in Paris. Even better, according to reviewers, it's really good!

See what people are saying about Crowdsourcing Paris here.

Inside the memoir are the adventures I experienced in Paris, including my near-death experience in the catacombs, the illegal 170 miles of tunnels below the City of Light.

Throughout the memoir, I also share my writing lessons as I learn to become a writer in Paris.

Get your copy of Crowdsourcing Paris here.

Ready to take the next step and learn how to write a memoir? Check out my complete guide, Write a Great Memoir: How to Start (and Actually Finish) Your First Draft.

Which of these memoir writing prompts is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

PRACTICE

Choose one of the memoir writing prompts above. Then set a timer for fifteen minutes, and write as much as you can.

When your time is up, post your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop (if you’re not a member yet, you can join here).

And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to at least three other writers.

Happy writing!

 

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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WSJ Bestselling author, founder of The Write Practice, and book coach with 14+ years experience. Joe Bunting specializes in working with Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, How To, Literary Fiction, Memoir, Mystery, Nonfiction, Science Fiction, and Self Help books. Sound like a good fit for you?

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