What time period in your life was most important to you? If you can remember events in the order they happened, organizing your memoir chronologically may be for you. Writing chronologically doesn’t necessarily need to start with your birth, you just to make sure you’re writing the events in order from start to finish.
Pick specific time periods for chapters to begin and end
If you’re writing chronologically, you want to know when to switch to a different time in your life. Maybe you had a lot of experiences in your childhood, and you want to break that time period into multiple different chapters so you can really focus on the experiences. Maybe your time is better marked by seasons, and you want to break your memoir into seasons. This is completely your choice!
Avoid the backstory
This seems intuitive, but it can be hard. If you know where the story starts, try not to “set the scene” with a long backstory. Just start at your chosen beginning point, and keep moving forward through time. You’ll find that you can still tell the story without all that added context — in most cases. If your story really doesn’t make sense without some details from the past, then just keep your backstory limited to the essentials. Or, consider starting from an earlier point.
Choose a natural ending
Similar to the above, your memoir can end whenever you’d like it to. If you want to write all the way to your current age, that’s your end. If you want your memoir to only go for so long, pick a different end. This is your story, whenever you want it to end is your choice.
Think through your memories
Before you start writing, think about when things happened. Organizing your memories before you begin can help you to continue writing without having to stop and think about what happened next. If you’re having a hard time remembering when things happened, see if you can talk to your family or jog your memory through different exercises.
Chronological writing can be helpful if you don’t know where you want to go with your memoir. As you continue to write, you’ll find some pieces fit together better than others. Tell the parts of your story that matter to you.