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3 Myths About Writing a Memoir

In all our years working on life histories at RLM, we’ve heard every one of these classic misconceptions—again and again. But we’re here to tell you the truth: Memoirs are for everyone. So let’s bust some myths!

1. You have to be famous. We love a juicy celebrity tell-all as much as the next person, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that famous folks have a monopoly on memoirs. The only question that really matters is “Who is your audience?” We’re willing to bet that yours is bigger than you think. Your family and friends, of course, will cherish your words. But so will those still to come: a grandchild yet unborn, a client yet unsigned, or a historian studying the era you know firsthand. Think about it: Your experiences are a treasure. Why not find a way to share them with curious readers of the future?

2. You have to be a great writer. If you struggle with expressing yourself in writing, you’re not alone. Not all of us were English majors! That’s why asking for help is key. At RLM, we have tons of creative ideas—including oral history interviews, ghostwriting, and timelines—about how you can tell your story, your way. For those who want to tell the story of a family business or nonprofit, expert advice like ours (65+ years worth!) can help you clearly communicate your identity and values, no matter how dense the history and how many people want to tell it. Remember, what’s irreplaceable is your unique story—so leave the writing to us.

3. You have to be old. This is among the most common memoir myths. And we’ll shout it from the rooftops: Your story is many stories! And none of them need to sum up every detail of your life. As we wrote two years ago, there are plenty of acclaimed memoirs by people under 50 that focus on notable events and transitions rather than entire lifetimes. And believe us, they make great reads! Distilling a short, significant period in your life can sometimes be the most engaging kind of autobiographical writing.

Don’t let misconceptions and excuses hold you back. If you’ve been putting off telling your story, let us help you find the way forward!


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