Must-Have Memoir Writing Aids

SOW HEADSHOTSome of the most useful, powerful, and perhaps lesser known resources I recommend to my students who are working on memoirs, life stories, and family histories, and use in my own memoir writing are listed below. They include electronic and hard copy resources.

Let’s continue the tradition of writers helping writers: Leave your favorite memoir, life story writing, or family history writing aids in a comment so others can benefit. Thanks!

Web Sites
5 Ways to Start Your Memoir on the Right Foot
Write a Memoir to Remember!
Resources for Writing Memoir
The Market for Memoirs
Women’s Memoirs

I think you’ll also find the National Association of Memoir Writers a unique resource.

Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing, by Carol Smallwood & Suzann Holland, Editors

Shimmering Images, by Lisa Dale Norton

Turning Memories into Memoir, By Denis Ledoux

The Memoir Project, by Marion Roach Smith

Old Friend from Far Away, by Natalie Goldberg

Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell. (Even though this book is aimed at fiction writers, it’ll show you how to plot your memoir so it’ll be as readable as a novel.)

I’d like to recommend a book I’ve read recently (October 2014): Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family.

Please leave a comment about the resources you turn to again and again for guidance in your memoir and family history writing.

And, see my guest post, “What Really Fuels a Powerful Memoir.”


If you’d like help writing your life stories, memoirs, or family histories, I can help. Take a look at my Testimonials tab, then use the Contact tab to get in touch. (Both are at the top of this page.) I’m experienced and easy to work with. And you’ll take great pleasure in seeing your pages pile up.

Twitter: @lynettebenton

11 thoughts on “Must-Have Memoir Writing Aids

  1. Hi Lynette, Thanks for following me on Twitter. I followed you right back as soon as I saw this subject on your blog! I have been blogging at for 2.5 years and have collected many memoir reviews and “top ten” lists and have been writing commentary on memoir. Anyone interested in the subject can use the tags and search function on the blog to look up a subject related to memoir. Hope you don’t mind if I offer my own work. Others to check out–Jerry Waxler at and Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett at Also National Association of Memoir Writers, led by Linda Joy Myers (

  2. Shirley, I *love* everything having to do with memoir, so I can’t wait to visit (okay, hang around) your blog. I do know and visit and you’ve just reminded me to join, not just follow, Nat’l Association of Memoir Writers. I just got Modern American Memoirs (excerpts), edited by Annie Dillard, fromthe library.

    Thank you for commenting and offering great tips here. I truly look forward to knowing you better, through Twitter and your site.

    Polish and Publish is on its way to you.

  3. Pingback: The Plot of My Mother’s Money, a Memoir of Suspense

  4. Hi Lynn,
    I’m coming really late to this post, but followed your Tweet today to Virginia Lloyd’s guest post on the difference between Memoir and Family history (a choice I’m struggling with — think I’ll do both!) and then her link to this post. What a wonderful surprise to see you suggested following my tweets! Thanks so much. I think both this post and Virginia’s guest post contain helpful, specific advice. I’ll send off to my writers’ group for others to check out.
    Thanks a big bunch!

  5. Dear Lynette, I’m embarrassed that I have only just discovered this post, more than a year since you generously listed my Twitter handle among your recommendations for people to follow about memoir! Thank you for placing me in such fine company. If you would consider linking to each of us from your site that would be terrific. I am currently revising my site and about to develop a resources page myself, and I’ll definitely be linking to you.
    Now: about MY MOTHER’S MONEY. This is a wonderful scenario for a memoir. Where are you up to with it, and how are you organising the material? I am quite fascinated to read it.
    All best, Virginia

  6. Excellent and resourceful blog, as always. Even for those of us who are not real “writers” but dream about writing a memoir – these resources are terrific. You are very generous to share everything with your followers.

  7. Thanks, Terry. I’m always looking for information that’ll be useful to other writers. Glad you feel this might help with your dream of perhaps one day writing your memoir!

  8. Thanks for a reminder of some great websites and books for memoir writers.
    I’d like to recommend Braving the Fire; A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss by Jessica Handler. An inspiring read.

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