Dealing With Insecurities While Writing Your Memoir

You may think that the first hurdle to getting your story written down would be the actual writing part, but I have some news for you…

The reality is that the very first hurdle that new (and even experienced writers) face is insecurity. Even at the thought of writing a memoir, an inner voice speaks up and questions your motives and abilities:

Who are you to write a memoir? 

Why would anyone want to read your story?

Even if you have a good story, what makes you think you can get it out on paper?

That’s a lot of pushback before you even put pen to paper and can stop people in their tracks… but it doesn’t have to! I work with memoir writers all the time, boosting their self confidence along the way (it’s one of my favourite things to do, actually!), so I can confidently tell you: First, these thoughts are normal; second, I want you to learn how to quiet them.

Let’s address some of these insecurities, shall we?

Who are you to write a memoir?

I will answer your question with another question: who are you to deny the world your story?

No one else in the world shares your exact story and experience, but there are many people who will be able to relate to it in some way. By sharing your story, not only are you speaking your truth, but you’re also giving an opportunity for someone else to relate to your experience in a way that is meaningful for them, perhaps even reminding them of the validity of their own similar experience. 

Making your story available is a powerful thing and can reach people you may not otherwise encounter in person.

It’s true you may never know the impact that your story had on someone else’s life, although sometimes you will—I’ve had clients come back with stories of strangers reaching out to them and expressing deep gratitude for sharing. So, it can (and does!) happen. But even if your readers never reach out to you, just know that you can rely on basic statistical theory here and assure yourself that someone, somewhere, resonated with your words. Your story mattered to someone.

Why would anyone want to read your story?

Considering that memoirs are one of the top-selling genres, lots of people would want to read your story. 

Memoirs have a special place in our hearts. They can connect us to people with similar experiences and remind us that we are not alone in such an intimate way.

Even if we can’t connect to the particular experience, we often feel a connection when someone is willing to show their vulnerable side and give us an inside peek into their life. 

Storytelling is embedded in our bones, passed on through generations as a way to share instructions, messages, and tales of hope.

Think of the memoirs that you’ve read. While some may have been written by famous celebrities, I am willing to bet that you have also indulged in stories of everyday people. Not all of us can relate to Michelle Obama’s story but many of us know someone who left an abusive relationship. Or is an ER nurse. Or who started their own business. Or who was diagnosed with MS. Or is trying to insert more happy into their lives.

Your message will resonate with others. Just flip the roles around anytime you find yourself questioning this. Look at the books you’ve chosen to read. Why did they pique your interest? Why were you drawn to them? Now, release those doubts that your story won’t be heard—what drew you to other people’s stories are the same reasons that will draw other’s to your story. It’s because we’re looking to connect…whether that is based on a tale of inspiration, learning, vulnerability, or courage, the human connection factor is what draws all of us in.

Even if you have a good story, what makes you think you can get it out on paper?

If I could share one message with the world (in terms of writing—I have lots of things to say about many global affairs, trust me!), it would be this: Everyone can write. It just takes effort… and an open mind to learning.

Writing is a process, so, no, you won’t likely write your memoir in an afternoon. The reality is, you’ll spend a lot of time writing. And then rewriting. And then tweaking those rewrites.

Those books you see in the bookstore? The ones you are comparing to your barely started draft? The authors of them worked incredibly hard and created many many (many!) drafts. They look nothing like their first draft. 

My intent here is not to scare you by emphasizing the workload, but to motivate and inspire you because since writing is a process, it’s one you can learn! And it’s one you can break down into bite-sized, achievable pieces. I see too many writers giving up early in the process, when those books in the bookstore were once at the very same stage as your manuscript is now. So, keep going! It’s all part of the process.

Start slow. Set manageable goals. Work on it regularly. And you’ll get there, I promise. 

If you’d like a writing guide to come along with you on your journey, reach out! I offer 1:1 coaching services, and I’m leading a group life writing for beginner class starting this June (spaces still available!).