How to Write Memoir Essay

You have been asked to write a memoir essay in your class and don’t know what topic to choose, how to do it right, and where to find a good memoir essay example. Don’t worry! We will quickly help you get started and earn the highest grade among your peers!

What is a memoir essay?

A memoir essay is a special genre of essay that focuses on telling a story from your life. The French word ‘memoir’ literally means memory or a flashback. However, don’t confuse memoir with autobiography, as these are very different things. The autobiography is about listing the key milestones from your life, often in chronological order, and as such, it is poorly applicable to the essay genre.

The memoir, on the contrary, is a very popular essay genre and it is all about selecting a particular episode, a moment, or an event in your life and framing it into an academic essay format. A memoir is written with a specific purpose to show how an episode from your life has affected your consciousness, beliefs, morals, and ethics.

In memoirs, we often describe how and when the turning point was in our life that made us wiser, how we became better and in what exactly, how we overcame difficulty and what we learned as a result, and how we came to realize something important, a truth that can only be revealed from life experience, etc.

A memoir essay follows all the specifics of a standard academic essay in terms of structure, length, format requirements, and referencing styles. Before beginning to write one, we would strongly recommend finding a good memoir essay example, or better several, and analyzing them for composition and style.

How to Write Memoir Essay

Writing a memoir essay from A to Z

Understand your reader

In 99% of cases, students write essays and submit them to their immediate teacher. That means that their readers are teachers of a specific gender, age, interests, and hobbies, specializing in a particular discipline, and so on. This information is enough to fine-tune your writing and make it attractive to your instructor. For instance, one memoir essay example that we keep in our database is about a hard way in achieving fantastic results in baseball, and there is no coincidence that it was written for the attention of a professor who was a decorated baseball player in the past.

Choose a good topic

  1. Without any exaggeration, this is the crucial part of writing a memoir essay. Going with the wrong topic will make it very hard to achieve good results and high grades. So, how do you pick a good topic then? There are a few crucial considerations to make in this regard:
  2. A success story. Writing about success is easy. We feel most natural describing our achievements and what difficulties and barriers we had to overcome to get there. Think of your most important accomplishments in the past and find the most inspiring story for your reader.
  3. A turning point. Our lives are full of various turning points, such as the first day of high school, choosing higher education, meeting your future spouse for the first time, making a decision to relocate to a different town, etc. These are all powerful moments, which surely had long-lasting implications on our lives, and they make up great candidates for our memoir essay topic.
  4. Family affairs. However, the most important events in students’ lives happen within their family – mother and father, brothers and sisters, etc. Family members and our relationships with them are our first and the most important teachers. You don’t have to be afraid or shy to reveal a key moment in your family life that had a decisive impact on your personality.
  5. Personal mindset and self-development. Let’s be honest, we all perfectly remember our biggest lessons in life, something bitter and sweet that made us radically change our mindset, reassess and re-evaluate our principles and values. Those are the things to be looked for in every decent memoir essay example.
  6. Career and growth. It’s hard to deny that the toughest competition we face in life most often awaits us in our early career steps. Writing a memoir essay devoted to one of those cases will yield you plenty of points.  

Make an outline

Provided that you want to write a really worthy memoir essay, there is no alternative to planning your work carefully. In writing, it is called outline. It is nothing more than a sketch of your main ideas, including a thesis statement, an introductory part, the main arguments, and facts. There are various techniques of writing an outline and definitely more than one memoir essay example containing a good demonstration of those, though for the purpose of this article and your learning, a simple handwritten sketch in a notepad would be sufficient.

Memoir Essays

Write your memoir essay

Write the text of your memoir essay using the notes from your outline. Follow a conventional essay structure, consisting of the following elements:

  1. Introduction
  2. The main body
  3. Conclusion

The conclusion of a memoir essay should not be a simple reflection of the thesis statement and key facts. It should also reflect your experience, takeaways and changes to your personality, though sometimes more far-going and abstract implications of the author’s flashbacks are appropriate to leave for the reader some food for thoughts.

Check for consistency and errors

First, take a short break from writing and come back to the proofreading stage with a fresh mind. Quickly read through your work and notice any inconsistencies in your story, redundancies, and places difficult for understanding. It is always better to shorten and simplify text than make it longer and harder to follow. At the final stage, check for grammar and formatting errors, and don’t forget to run a couple of plagiarism checks using online tools.    

A couple of additional considerations before writing your first memoir essay

Anyone can write a memoir. However, if you strive to ensure that memoirs are not only written but also read, then they must certainly arouse interest among others. In other words, your memoirs should be captivating (entertaining, educating) for your readers. Here are a couple of additional considerations for you to make before writing your first memoir essay.

Determine the degree of truthfulness

One of the main questions that everyone who embarks on a memoir essay must ask themselves is to determine the degree of truthfulness with which they are going to write. Of course, it is unlikely that any of the readers will demand the author with the ridiculous claim that a particular memoir essay example must include the pure truth and nothing more. Who would read such a memoir essay, from which the memoirist himself did not get any pleasure?

However, an open and total lie would deprive memoirs of the right to belong to this genre and would rather classify them as fiction. A reasonable middle ground, a skillful combination of true facts with free fiction, the choice of details and their decoration within the framework of good taste, the harmonious combination of the personal and the public, the rigor, and at the same time the colorful presentation – these are the signs of a good memoir essay.

In any case, an open lie is certainly prohibited and is taboo in any decent memoir essay example. One should not, for example, ascribe to oneself a personal acquaintance, which, despite all its pleasantness, could not physically take place. Needless to say, embellishing one’s biography by rudely attributing other people’s achievements is unacceptable, since it can immediately evoke the most violent and undesirable reaction from readers.

The greatest temptation for anyone writing a memoir essay

A great temptation for anyone who writes a memoir essay is the desire to evaluate long-past events from the point of view of the modern mental state and awareness of the author. And in fact, it is very tempting to view and assess past events through the prism of one’s current knowledge and maturity.

But when the author succumbs to this temptation – to modernize their old points of view, then a rather suspicious image of a subject appears before the reader’s eyes. The reader might suspect you of knowing everything before everyone else, but for some reason keep these discoveries to yourself. A rare memoir essay example is fully free from such biases, though an attentive student should be able to see things through.