Difference between a memoir, a journal and an autobiography

Memoir: describes events within a certain period of time

  • Autobiography: typically describes your own life, often going back far in history to arrive at a specific moment (Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”)
  • Journal: what you write for yourself (you can use your journals to aid you either with an autobiography or a memoir)

Autobiographies are also typically written by famous people – such as Patti Smith – because the public’s interest is already there. They rarely have a problem finding a publisher.

Anyone can write a memoir and you don’t have to be known at all to write one although many publishers will ask if you have a “platform.” (A blog might be a good platform, for example, “They Don’t Tell You,” a humours blog I used to write about being a parent.) A platform is not necessary but publishers like when there’s already some small “audience” guaranteed to be interested (more on that later—ask questions.)

When thinking of writing a memoir, what kind of story you want to tell, Can you do a quick, one-line elevator pitch describing the topic of your memoir?

(Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash)

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