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The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  463 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
A recent study revealed that the Number 1 thing that baby boomers want to do in retirement is write a book....about themselves. It's not that every person has lived such a unique or dramatic life, but we inherently understand that writing memoir-whether it's a book, blog, or just a letter to a child-is the single greatest portal to self-examination.

While there have been o
ebook, 128 pages
Published June 9th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing
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Feb 03, 2014 Bethany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. At an underwhelming 114 pages, she packed a punch, which meant that every word counted.

The two most poignant things I learned were 1) the difference between memoir and autobiography (and my, do I see now that there is a vast difference) and 2) memoir is all about angle. You can reuse the same life events and tell them a million different ways when you see them through different lenses of time (in the moment rather than when the dust has settled) point of view (the widow, her
Janette Fuller
Jun 14, 2011 Janette Fuller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life", by Marion Roach Smith, provides original, humorous and effective methods to make the dream of writing your story a reality. The author encourages aspiring memoirists to "write on" with intent and purpose.

I always thought a memoir would be about Mrs. Smith advises the writer to ask the following question, "What is this about?" The writer must decide on a theme for the story and then use personal experi
Joy Weese Moll
Feb 03, 2014 Joy Weese Moll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers of all genres
Recommended to Joy Weese by: Lori (Lara Britt) Sailiata
A slim volume, itself an example of memoir, that illustrates, teaches, and encourages the writing of memoir in all its variety of forms and functions.

Don’t look at The Memoir Project if you’re looking for writing exercises. Marion Roach Smith doesn’t recommend them. Instead she offers this invitation:

So let’s begin together, literally on the same page, and with a tacit agreement that from this moment on, we will write no exercises; we will write for real. With a goal. p. 7

Although, if you’re use
Harry Roger Williams III
I give this five starts, which in the language of GoodReads means "It was amazing." What is amazing about Ms. Smith's accomplishment is that she has fit about 400 pages of information and ideas and inspiration into a mere 114 pages. I read some of it on the Red Line going to the State House or Boston Public Library, laughing out loud or exclaming "Wow!" enough to make my fellow passengers wonder, "What's with this guy?" I won't try to summarize it, I'll just wholeheartedly recommend this - not j ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-writing
Loved this book and the voice Roach has in it. While this subtitle calls itself "non-standard," the advice contained within is what you'll hear in college courses. She has great delivery and this a great volume of compacted advice. It may be that the newbie writer might need some practice for her condemned "writing prompts" to get the juices flowing.

I read this in prep for a memoir writing workshop I'm teaching in April. This book has really excited me about working with memoir writers!
Leslie Reese
More like 3.5 stars. I liked this book but not as much as I liked Louise DeSalvo's The Art of Slow Writing or Walter Mosley's This Is The Year You Write Your Novel.

In this short book with a long title, Marion Roach Smith is all "brass-tacks"---is that the right phrase to describe her no-nonsense, almost military approach to memoir-writing? Her basic guidelines are these:
*writing memoir is about telling the truth;
*every page must drive one single story forward; and
*just because something happene
Jan 23, 2014 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shari Fox, Lorie Eckert
Shelves: keepers
I found this book to be one of the most helpful volumes on the craft of writing nonfiction that I have come across. While it concentrates on memoir, Ms. Smith's advice and suggestions are transferable to almost any type of creative nonfiction. I'll bet fiction writers can find some food for thought and tools for writing improvement here, as well. I'd recommend this highly for anyone interested in writing nonfiction, and even more highly for aspiring memoirists. Don't borrow it. Buy it. You'll pr ...more
Kathi  Gowsell
Jun 25, 2015 Kathi Gowsell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book on writing creative non-ficttion that I've read.
Apr 21, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book at the library, and thought I was checking out a book that might give me some ideas to use for blog posts, but what I found was much more useful. Marion Roach Smith has in my opinion written a very helpful how-to book. Writing a memoir is just the example she uses, but as she also points out her storytelling technique can be used for really any form of writing. I am intrigued. The following are a few excerpts and ideas that I have picked up so far.

The quotes shared really struc
G.C. Neff
For some reason, I saw too much of the "reporter" in The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. Marion Roach Smithdid indeed do a grand job of presenting her ideas, yet I felt that I needed more depth of approach due to the memoir I've begun to write.

That is, I have the first five pages of a rough draft underway. Which brings me to another wince about the book: calling a first draft or rough draft a "vomit" draft. Different, yes, but I would rather call it a "
Aug 30, 2016 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone thinking of writing memoirs
This is an exceptionally inspiring little book for anyone thinking of writing some stories from their life. First off, Roach Smith defined the difference between "memoir" and "auto-biography"-- boiled down, a memoir is a story from your life, a chunk of your life or someone else's, not the entire life (which might be called an auto-biography if it is about your entire life).

Marion Roach Smith is a skilled writer of memoir and throughout the book she uses examples of her own work, and from her o
Jul 31, 2011 Oria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First impression

When I saw the slim book at the bookstore, I had a mixed reaction, part curiosity and part snicker. Nevertheless, curiosity being the stronger of the two, the book found its way into my hands and they were turning the pages before I even had time to consider other options.
The only other book about writing that I’ve read was Stephen King’s “On Writing”, and just like the first time I held that book, I was baffled by the size. Weren’t these types of books supposed to be thicker? I
Rhonda Rae Baker
This is the most inspiring book I've read about writing! I would love to give it TEN stars. Devoured it and then went back for seconds. After that, I went through it again as if to memorize certain sections and will be returning for another portion when a break from writing is warranted...amazing...(-:

Marion hit the nail on the head with this one. It's as if she has been reading my mail. I'm all about lessons-learned. Coming from a technical background in writing, I want my memoirs to share wisd
Sep 02, 2015 (a)lyss(a) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a short and helpful guide to writing a memoir.

Full of anecdotes, examples, and advice this book offers specific insight on how to get started on a memoir or other creative nonfiction. Perhaps the best advice in the book is to write five pages a day to have a draft in three months.

It's an easy read full of clever tips that you can decide how much you want to use and in that way lends its self to craft your story.
Oct 12, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read about writing memoir, the less convinced I am that I actually have anything to say. It has probably all been said (by me at least) in my columns over the years and now the blog. Miriam Roach Smith is definitely as talented as her more famous sister. When it comes to the written word, she may be the more talented judging from this book. Smart, funny, informative and a valuable tool for anyone who writes.
Apr 17, 2016 Jana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
If you are thinking about writing memoir, read this book. I am and I have looked into so many books about memoir writing and this one I have to say was a great read. It wasn't overbearing, and the way the other makes personal references into her life, in almost mini memoirs really helps to make it interesting and gives examples about how to write different aspects of memoir.
May 29, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has some great ideas for writing memoir...from writing a letter to a family member for a special occasion to creating a book-length memoir. I found it really helpful as I work to record some of my history for my family. Very approachable and practical, and encourages you not to do exercises, but to actually get writing!
Shasta Matova
Sep 30, 2016 Shasta Matova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
I enjoyed reading this book. Besides lots of good advice, there were lots of examples of how to write a memoir based on the author's life. She didn't include any writing assignments, except to write the memoir. I agree with this - if you want to be a writer, you should be writing what you want to write, instead of doing silly assignments.
D.G. Kaye
Feb 17, 2015 D.G. Kaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A handy guide for memoir writers, told through using the author's own life experiences for examples to demonstrate the body, intent and word choices to make writing succinct. Also included are some invaluable tips on editing drafts and what to look for to make your writing shine and become a pleasurable experience to read.
Sep 07, 2016 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, Aspiring Writers, English Majors
Recommended to Grace by: Writers on Writing Class
Shelves: for-class
Contains clear, concise, practical, and efficient methods for writing memoir. This writing guide is also sprinkled with creative nonfiction snippets/small stories from Smith that make a book like this more entertaining to read, and they also serve as good examples of memoir. Additionally, this book is rather slender, making it approachable and a relatively quick read.
Aug 05, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I occasionally read these how-to-write books, because it's easier and far more enjoyable than actually writing. This little one is awesome for a number of reasons, and highly recommended:
1. The author's first directive is to never, ever write from a prompt.
2. The author seamlessly weaves snippets of her own memoir writing, such as a few paragraphs from an essay here and there, into the text, only calling attention to what the example conveys or illustrates after the reader has read it.
3. The au
George Ilsley
Saw this recommended somewhere; however, I just could not get into it. Found it to be a weird hybrid of personal anecdotes with writing advice. And by writing advice I mean such gems as "carry paper with you and write notes". And then more personal anecdotes.

Whatever rocks your boat.
Kim Sasso
"Memoir Project" makes it sound more interesting than I found it to be, but that's probably because I read a lot of Writing magazines in my twenties and collected composition textbooks well into my thirties. For the most part, Smith's advice is nothing new, even though she effectively slants it to the personal essay, blog, or memoir. This book could be useful to the young writer but at my age, writing just for my own personal sanity, I am looking for things that spark my creativity and fire my m ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-growth
This book is short and sweet, which is what I loved about it. Extremely practical, fun to read and definitely a helpful nudge forward for anyone writing a memoir. I got my copy from the library but will be seeking a copy for my own shelves. It's one I will want to refer back to repeatedly.
Jul 21, 2016 Cigdem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very short and at the same time very powerful book. I seriously recommend this as the first book to read when setting out to write a memoir. She's so brilliant, experienced and also funny.
Feb 20, 2016 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a helpful book, but after having just read Mary Karr's The Art of Memoir I found it a bit underwhelming. Still for beginners I think it gives a great overview in a quick format.
Donna Kling
Feb 05, 2016 Donna Kling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're like me and writing a memoir is on your bucket list this book is full of practical insight to get you started, help you stay on track, and make the necessary cuts.
Dec 18, 2012 Brittany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
This book was helpful in learning how one approaches writing a memoir. I like the flow and style of Marion's book. It isn't so much a "how to" book but a folllow by example book. She wrties bits of her own memoir inthe book which serve as perfect examples for what she is trying to convey! My favorite part of the book was when Marion discussed writing about a holiday, and not having the holiday be the focus but the backdrop where your story naturally conveys the meaning of thankfulness or joy. He ...more
Erin Quinney
Mar 20, 2012 Erin Quinney rated it really liked it
This is the third book I've read on writing in the last 6 months and I didn't think Roach would have anything unique to add. I was wrong.

This is memoir, which is vastly different from fiction. She explained how to make memoir interesting. How to find the right angle, oddly enough, by using an algorithm. "This is an (x) and the illustration is (y.)" Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it's brilliant.

I loved her concepts and her illustrations. The section on how to edit was especially helpful. It's
Carrie Williams
Apr 03, 2016 Carrie Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and have went back and read it several times. If you are trying to or want to write memoir this book is a great resource!
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Writing memoir after reading The Memoir Project 2 9 Jul 17, 2011 06:53PM  
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