As a psychotherapist,
the author approaches memoir writing from more of a therapeutic
than a writing perspective in this helpful new book. The instructions
seem directed mainly toward beginning writers, although previously
published authors who want to expand into memoir writing also
can benefit from this book. After completing 30 memory-based
writing exercises in 30 days, in which readers write essays
from prompts, the memoir may be partially developed or near
completion, depending upon the individual.
In the Introduction, Temes explains different types of memoirs:
relationship, animal, illness, religious, business, travel,
romantic, tell-all, disaster, coming-of-age, and call-to-action.
As readers progress through the exercises, they may notice
many essays revolve around one particular subject, such as
how a certain pet changed their life or how pets throughout
their life have shaped how they deal with people. One particularly
important exercise takes place on Day 18, when readers are
asked to “write about something that happened in your
life that changed your way of thinking.” Samples of
what others have written in response to the daily prompts
help guide readers through each challenge.
The writing assignments focus mainly on content of the memoir
and specifically identifying one’s personal mission
in life, although the author does provide abbreviated information
addressing writing mechanics and the road to publication.
Beginning on Day 6, “Clear Communication” tips
in each chapter explain stylistic issues. These tips are intended
to assist new writers and serve as reminders for professional
writers. An Appendix also offers basic information about pre-publication,
self-publishing, and traditional publishing. Some memoirs
may be for the writer’s benefit only; others may be
appropriate for family and friends; some stories will appeal
to a mass audience.
While How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days provides great
step-by-step instructions for creating a personal life story,
the publishing promise in the subtitle may be overly optimistic.
It’s certainly possible for any dedicated reader to
complete the basic writing assignments in 30 days, but proofreading,
editing, and rewrites take considerably longer, and frankly,
some personal stories are interesting only to the storyteller.