National Life Writing Month, celebrated every November, encourages writers to be part of their own stories. November is widely known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which challenges writers to push themselves and start and finish a novel within the same month. However, November is also the month for life writing which is similar to the National Novel Writing Month project, but instead of writing fiction, writers indulge in writing memoirs. Writing about oneself can be an exciting but strenuous process. It requires one to relive all their memories and state them in such a manner that makes it exciting for people.
History of National Life Writing Month
People have been writing memoirs since ancient times. Julius Caesar wrote, “Commentaril de Bello Gallico” or the “Commentaries on the Gallic Wars” between 58 and 52 B.C., in which he describes the battles that he waged against the people of Gaul. His second memoir,
“Commentarii de Belo Civili” or the “Commentaries on the Civil War,” is an account of the civil war against Gnaeus Pompeius and the Senate. The teacher of rhetoric, Libanius, who lived between 314 and 394 A.D. framed his life memoir as literary orations, which were like memos, and they helped aid his memory to make more finished documents later.
Around the 18th century, memoirists wrote as a way to record their account of the public and society. Ben Yagoda in his “Memoir: A History” notes that in the 19th and 20th centuries, memoirs usually talked about someone else, as in their relationship with someone else, but later in the late 20th century this changed.
People started to write about themselves and labeled their works as memoirs. In the early 1990s, memoirs started to be written by ordinary people as people felt the urge to pass down their and their ancestor’s stories to the coming generations. In the 21st century, with digital book production, memoir writings exploded the market, and they became a way to pass down a personal legacy.
National Life Writing Month timeline
Julius Caesar writes the “Commentaril de Bello Gallico” or “Commentaries on the Gallic Wars.”
Authors of memoirs during this period usually write about someone else, as in their relationship with someone else.
People start to write about themselves and label their works as memoirs.
Ordinary people begin to write memoirs as they feel the urge to pass down their and their ancestors’ stories to future generations.
National Life Writing Month FAQs
Is a memoir different from an autobiography?
While an autobiography is the story of a person written by that person, a memoir is a written narrative of the author’s memories.
What are the five traits of a successful memoir?
The five traits of a successful memoir are drama, relevance, authenticity, character arc, and the after effect.
Where does the word ‘memoir’ come from?
The word ‘memoir’ comes from the French ‘mémoire’ which means ‘memory’ or ‘reminisce.’
National Life Writing Month Activities
Pick up a memoir and start reading
There’s no better time to start reading a memoir than during National Life Writing Month. Many well-known personalities in the world have a memoir to their name or perhaps a book that is semi-autobiographical that can give you an insight into their life experiences.
Write your memoir
This month might just be the sign you need to start writing your memoir. You could begin by making a list of important memories and then creatively describing your feelings and encounters.
Share about the month on social media
Spread awareness about this special month on the internet by posting about hard-hitting memoirs written by significant people. You could even write about or share other people’s reflections on the art of memoir writing.
5 Interesting Facts About Memoirs
Writing a memoir is challenging
It takes strenuous efforts to recollect all your memories and write them down for people to read and absorb.
Your life is connected to your ancestors
Your life is not just your own but shares a long history with your ancestors, and writing about your experiences can be a valuable legacy to pass on to future generations.
It preserves your reminiscences forever
Describing the past as you remember it is a crucial aspect of memoir writing.
All lives are unique
You don’t have to be a major public figure to pen a memoir; all lives are unique and have something new and inspiring to tell the world.
Flaws are relatable
People like reading about the flaws you had or might have as that reassures them that nobody is perfect.
Why We Love National Life Writing Month
It celebrates writing
The National Life Writing Month is a time for people to explore their creative writing skills while sharing their own stories with the world. Practicing writing can help empower people.
It promotes non-fiction reading
Most fiction lovers are hesitant to explore the memoir genre because of preconceived notions. Reading about other people’s intimate experiences in their own words can offer deep insight into the human condition.
It teaches us strength in vulnerability
Memoir writing is a great exercise in opening yourself to the world on your own terms. It reminds us to draw power from our own words as we reveal parts of our past.
National Life Writing Month dates