Home » On Memoir Writing » Memoir Writing – Discover Your Life – Themes, Tones and Intentions

Memoir Writing – Discover Your Life – Themes, Tones and Intentions

We are all storytellers. We all have stories to share.  Stories we have heard from others to pass on or our own experiences to contribute. Each of these stories we tell has a theme, tone and intention behind it. Whether you are sharing some gossip at work or telling a friend what she missed on Dancing With The Stars, you are telling a story and that story can tell a lot about you.


I occasionally sit back and stare at my Facebook screen and see a theme in my friends posts. I can see one friend posts on her adventures, lessons and experiences as a stay-at-home mom. (Typing that seems ridiculous. Is there another term we can use?) Another friend posts about her family as well as info for us parents to find cool stores or activities for our kids. Yet another friend is a storyteller of another kind. You can tell by his funny posts that he offers you a glimpse into his life.  I get to read about his journey running a bookstore, raising chickens and ducks, having a homeschool family and enjoying many times with good friends and family.

Of course you can glimpse at your own stories on Facebook and see if you can decipher some themes. You can do this in your journal, telephone calls you make in a day or week, through your texts or emails. What kind of stories are you sharing with people? Next time you get on the phone with a friend make a mental note or jot down what you are talking about.  Not word for word but just a theme, it could be family, errands, planning, work issues, boyfriend issues, etc.  An example may be that you are always making plans to go out?  Always running errands?  Seeing traits of being a social butter fly or a planner is key for you to recognize.  We walk around being ourselves all day and do not even know it.


Now that you are looking and reflecting on your themes do you notice a tone to those themes? Do you find yourself picking up the phone more often than you wish to call your friend to complain about your brother? Do you notice how often you talk about your fellow co-workers at work? What is your tone? Are you angry, venting, frustrated, happy, sad, identifying? What is the tone behind your story?  Perhaps you are angry that you are always the one planning social gatherings.  Journal about your discoveries and what is going on.


Your intention brings a tone to your themes. You may notice the tone before you think of your intention. We lead such busy lives that we are often not aware of why we are acting the way we do.

If you don’t enjoy planning activities ask yourself why you are doing it?  Perhaps you are tired of the little goody-to-shoes getting all the attention at work and your efforts are going unnoticed so you do not say kind things about her. You are out to intentionally make other people see what you see – that you are just as good as she is, that you are worthy.

I use to find myself picking up the phone to call one of my sisters to complain about another sister. What a horrible habit that was. I have never really reflected on what my intentions were in doing that but now I think it was a way to feel like I belonged. It was a reason to try to connect with my family. Not a very good reason. I stopped it because I simply didn’t feel good about it but never thought to look deeper into my intentions until this moment.

I will give you a small example. I suggest you explore your themes, tones and intentions all week, all month, for the rest of your life whenever you can bring yourself to be aware of your intentions for doing or saying something. Record your thoughts on the matter and see what you see about yourself.  You will discover some issues you have that are reoccurring, common interests and who knows what else.  I invite you to share if you are up for it.  So much can be learned by us sharing together.

See you next week!


5 thoughts on “Memoir Writing – Discover Your Life – Themes, Tones and Intentions

  1. I’m currently writing a memoir and can appreciate your tips. I think it’s awesome that you have self-published your memoir and strongly believe that using technology for this purpose is the way to go for most writers who try to pitch their stories to agents/publishers who may junk their writing in a slush pile for various reasons that don’t include the actual writing. I look forward to “pouring a cup of tea” and reading more. :) Jane

    • Yes, I feel self publishing is the way for me. It allows me more control and it. I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t published it yet. My intention is to have it in the hands of a professional editor for September 1st and a publish date of December 2012. It has been a long road for me to publish it because reading it has brought me back to that time but I am free of it now and feel I can move forward.
      May I ask what your story is about? I am going to run and check out your blog right now. Best wishes!

      • Hi, Marlene. I completely empathize with your plight of being brought back to “that time” and understand what a difficult journey that is. Now, the most important thing for both of us is to stay the course and see our writing through to the finish, and it sounds as if you’re home free. Thanks for checking out my blog, and I look forward to reading more of yours! :) Jane

  2. This post is most helpful right now. Today I was bored and tired, frustrated with how lethargic I felt. I couldn’t think of anything to talk about, but I really did want to talk, so I came up with things to talk about that revolved around other people. It turned into me comparing myself with others and trying to make me feel better in an illegitimate way. I have some work to do in evaluating my motives, but I’m glad for the reminder to do that.

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