Some people decide they want to write their entire life story without thinking about what this might entail. While this can be an overwhelming and challenging undertaking, it can also be one of your proudest moments as you hold the finished product in your hand – a document of your life, on paper.
Determining where and how to start can be overwhelming. After all, the mere thought of documenting decades of your memories, events, challenges and joys is enough to make anyone put down their pen and give up. “Do not despair! For those of you wishing to document your life across the decades, here are a few easy tips to help simplify the process of getting started:
- Consider why you are writing your story. Is it for your children? Your grandchildren? Do you want to give them a look at who you were or who currently are? Do you want to document some great, significant life accomplishments or events from your life? Or are you writing this for your own sense of self-satisfaction?
- Think about what and when you want to focus on. Do you want your story to start from your earliest memory, or perhaps a specific time period in your life – perhaps one of challenge or a fork in the road that brought you to where you are today? There is no set rule to what span of time or events you should focus on. The choice is up to you.
- Get organized. Before sitting down to write, make a list of what you want to write about. You might even create an outline to help you along. Spark your memory for story prompts. Look through photos, saved greeting cards, children’s drawings – any papers you might have at home, or at relative’s homes, that will generate a memory for a story you might like to write.
- Think about if you will follow a theme through your story. Do you want to focus on your accomplishments? Your family? Community? Most likely your story or stories will revolve around a main theme however, you might find that as you compile your stories, a major theme unfolds, one that your memoir can wrap itself around as the theme, or even title, of your book. Remember, your life story can focus on just one part of your life or be a comprehensive book that spans your lifetime. Regardless of what you decide upon, choosing a central theme for your story is a way to maintain cohesiveness throughout your storytelling.
- Consider how you want to be remembered. As you write your stories, consider how you want to be known and remembered. After all, these stories are about you, good and well, or perhaps not so good! Think about how you want your readers to know and remember you and be sure to let them know this in the stories you write. Show some emotion. Let the reader connect with you on a personal level. Often, some of the best life stories are those where the reader feels he is living your life with you, complete with good times and challenging ones.
And most importantly, write, and keep writing. Don’t be afraid to start or think you don’t have enough stories to start writing. Just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling right away. The important thing is to get your thoughts on paper. Editing can come later. And if you don’t feel like writing one day, not to worry. Write when the mood strikes. Writing your stories should come from your heart rather than a place of “I must” or “I should”.
We’ll talk more about details with writing your lifestory, writing other lifestories, and how to publish your stories, in future posts. In the meantime, you might want to read this article which gives a great way to organize and think more about your life story when you are just starting out: