The beauty of writing is that as the writer, you are capable of writing about whatever it is that makes your heart sing and your spirit fulfilled.
Some writers choose to write poetry, others epic fictional tales, and then there are the select few who choose to go down the path of non-fiction works. These works can be about history, perhaps about another person, or even about one’s self.
For those writers who are looking to write the story of their life, it is important to decide how that story will be shared. Are you looking to share every moment of your life from birth up until today, or a short but profound period of time you experienced? Often times, people use “autobiography” and “memoir” as interchangeable literary terms to explain stories about one’s life, and while this is true to a point, there are several differences between the two. Knowing the subtle but important differences can help a writer decide which path to go down when composing their story.
Here is how they differ:
Autobiography – Autobiographies are written by the main character and written as a fully fact based recollection of one’s life in the order of which the events of that person’s life played out. Writers who are looking to connect with readers on a factual base, and explain their life in its entirety are better off to write an autobiography than a memoir.
Memoir – Memoirs are written by the subject, and are much less fact based or formal as autobiographies are. When writing a memoir, writers often pull from the emotional truths they experienced from one particular event or season of life, versus having an all-encompassing story from birth to present.
Just as important as it is to consider your message, writers also must keep their audience in mind. Ask yourself, what is it that you’re looking to share? Is there take-away? Will your audience be more prone to liking the facts, or the feelings? This is how you effectively decide the way to share your story. If you’re a laid back writer with a humorous tale of life, writing a memoir is likely for you. Perhaps you prefer to tell longer stories with more detail, autobiography is a solid way to go. No matter your choice, don’t be afraid to get your story out there, you never know who it may touch!