Writing About Your Life, by William Zinsser

Writing About Your Life, By William Zinsser—

This is a memoir designed to help the reader write his or her own memoir.  In the first chapter he introduces the two main premises of his book.  First he warns us not to decide what our memoir will say or how it will be organized; but to be ready to be surprised.  Second, he tells us to think small.  He encourages the reader to write about the small events in his or her life that are remembered vividly, rather than write a larger less personal story.

The book contains a collection of short stories and essays written about Zinsser’s own life.  He uses the stories from his own experiences to introduce the technical writing decisions he had to make while writing his memoir.

Throughout this book, whether Zinsser is sharing short stories about his childhood, places he visited, or stories about his writing life, the focus is always on the people.  I like that he reminds us that we are the protagonist in our story, not the hero; but the central character none-the-less.

I also like that he encourages us to use our writing to look for the humanity in both ourselves and in others and not as a venue to whine.  (Note:  Telling a painful story is different from whining.)

I found his book a collection of delightful stories and useful tips to guide the writer through the process of writing a memorable story.

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