Writing your memoirs at 60 25



View Profile

I have always thought I would like to write my memoirs when I got to 60 years old, but then I wonder who would actually be interested in reading it.

A memoir according is:

1. An account of the personal experiences of an author.

2. An autobiography. Often used in the plural.

3. A biography or biographical sketch.

4. A report, especially on a scientific or scholarly topic.

5. The report of the proceedings of a learned society.

As we go on through life, it is amazing to realise how similar we all are. For example, most of us attend some sort of schooling, are brought up in a family environment, fall in love, get married ( some more than once),  some maintain health, and others get sick and die.

So what would make your memories worth reading? Is there something you have in your life that is different to others?

Writing down what has happened to you in the last 60 years might be painful or bring back sad memories. Some photos may trigger your memory and help you with dates of special occasions. You may want to discuss the hurt and anger you have experienced, or the more happy times of travel and experiences with family or friends. How you felt, what goals you set, what you learned from your experiences, and how that reflected through your life can add to the story and make it extremely interesting. Remember you can focus on a particular period of your life… it does not have to be the whole life story.

I always go back to the initial overview when looking at writing a book. I find a chapter index to be the greatest help when it comes to how I want to move through the story. An index of chapters, broken down into topics in each chapter can give a pathway to follow. By listing the memories and working out which order you wish them to fall in can be of assistance when dealing with a number of life experiences. Whether you eventually stick to that pathway is not important, but it may give you a starting point and explain how you want to develop the stories. Look at each chapter as a linked story and then go ahead and write each section.

Constant revision of what you have written is important, along the way correct the grammar and make sure your sentences and paragraphs make sense. One of the things I learned when writing my PhD thesis was that each paragraph should be able to be under one heading, so that you do not divert from the topic being discussed and suddenly jump to something else. In each paragraph I worked from discussion on the bigger picture to the smaller more intrinsic information, looking at linking it to the next paragraph so that the story flowed.

Even when you are writing a chapter write a index for that chapter so you have some guide as to what you are writing. Take time to read your work out aloud, or put it away for a day or two and then go back over it.

When you feel you have finished, go and seek out a publisher. There are particular books available that list publishers in Australia, or failing that you could publish it on the internet.


Have you ever thought of writing or have you ever written a memoir?

Gillian Johnston

Gillian Johnston is a mother, grandmother, writer and hard worker based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Born in 1951, she's a proud member of the baby boomer generation. Gill has set up http://www.60sux.com a website about the difficulties that arise over 60 years of age.

  1. Yes I write short stories about the funny things that happened in our lives from my life to my children to their children. They seam to love the stories. I only wish I could have written down my father’s and mother’s stories and the places they visited.

  2. My mother put her story on tape in her late 80’s as she was almost blind. What an amazing woman and amazing story. It took me quite a while to type 8hrs of cassette tape, but now my sister has edited and we are having it typeset and printed in time to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday in May this year.

  3. I have been writing my life story for the past couple of years at my daughter’s suggestion. I sometimes spend days writing then editing and re-editing, then leave it for a while and then change it again. I have been putting photos in as well. I started with a little history of my parents and their parents, aunties and uncles – the family that surrounded me as a young child. I sometimes despair that I will ever get it finished or be satisfied with it.

  4. Only gave it a go once. I had a major operation at three that afternoon and when I finally came back to awareness I could not sleep all night. When I went into hospital two days before my father was not well I asked my doctor if I should put the opp off and he said no it was not necessary he would be OK. During the night I wrote a poem to my Dad. You have to understand this was strange in itself as my Dad was a mans man and worked as a wharf labourer and I don’t think he would have ever read a poem. When it got to 7am I rang home because I thought my husband would be getting the boys ready for school but the phone did not answer. Ten minutes later my husband came through the door my doctor on one side and the nurse on the other, my dear Dad had passed away at about 3am that morning the same time I was writing my poem.
    I only had to add a few lines to the beginning and finish and it said everything that I had wanted to tell him personally but it finished being his death notice. I hope he read it.

    1 REPLY
    • What a sad time that was for you Pat. Uncanny that you were writing the poem at the time he died. I’m sure he read it. Hope you’re okay.

  5. I do believe as we go through life we should write anything different or interesting so that our children later will know us better. We have all had very different lives and very interesting things that we think nothing of. My Mum and Dad lived through the Great Depression and the 2nd World War. My Dad left school at 13 and as there were not any jobs to be had carried a swag around Australia with my Grand Father. Working hard on the land where ever they could and sending any money they could home to the family. I wish that I had asked hundreds of questions the stories they could have told, but being young I don’t suppose I was interested. Oh what a chance I. Missed it’s to late now.

  6. I wished my mother and her mother had written their stories, my grandfather in ww1 was in Hill60 and when the war was over spent a couple of years in the sapphire mines in QLD and sold them to my great grandfather in England he was a lapidary. They moved to Sydney had three children mum was one of them, at 11 her father shot himself as a result of the war. Incredible stories.

  7. I think we all regret not asking. How was it when you were a little ? of our parents And so now busy with life and kids on iPads and phones all the time ! My granddaughter did ancient history not long back. It was the 1950. Period !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *