It can be daunting trying to craft a life story—sifting through a mountain of files, photos, letters and memorabilia and organising them into a coherent narrative. So overwhelming in fact that many potential memoirists procrastinate and may never end up writing their life story.
Writing a life story or memoir is also one of the most rewarding things you can do. As American President Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Nothing worth having comes easy,’ and you can apply this to writing. If you’re about to write your life story, here are a few tips to ensure your success:
Prepare by organising your family archive
Come up with an inventory of your reference materials and the places where you can find them. What family documents do you need and where are they stored? You need not have all your sources in one room (though it’s great if you do) but knowing where they are certainly makes the research and pre-writing phase faster.
Photos and journals can help you remember events, experiences and emotions that you can include in your memoir. When gathering resources, include genealogy papers, letters and other historic items for fact-checking.
Come up with a life timeline
Our memories are not linear. We think in puddles; scents, colours and even music stimulates our reminisces. Because of this, some people believe writing should be similarly free and unrestrained. A chronological outline, though, is the best thing you could do to ensure you write a coherent narrative that captures the hearts and minds of your readers.
You can convey spontaneity and vitality in your text without sacrificing order, and a life timeline will enable you to do that. Write down your major life milestones—romances, study, jobs, relocations, getting married and having children, divorce, becoming a grandparent—and the years in which they happened. You can even group these events in terms of life stage—childhood, teen years, university and so on.
Focus your writing on a couple of themes
If there is a specific period you want to cover, like school, university or a stint working overseas, you need not think so much about your theme. Still, some life stories need a little more deliberation in this area. Create a mud map by jotting down your memories, then see if there are common themes. If you find one or more, think about the people, situations and emotions involved and start writing. You’ll find once you begin, you’ll be flooded with vivid images and memories, making it hard to stop.
Ask yourself about the most vital decisions you have made, and the instances where you displayed resilience. What did you learn, and what was the effect on your life afterwards?
You can also think of your best days, your most challenging ones, and what makes you remember these moments. Your career or vocation could also have recurring patterns you could examine through writing. You might also want to reflect on values you want to pass on, and if your life story has instances where you or the people around you show them.
Turn your beautiful memories into a book
Writing a memoir takes time and effort, and it can be challenging trying to craft a captivating narrative out of bits and pieces of memories. You’ll have a smoother time writing your life story if you follow our tips.
At Share Your Life Story, we strive to help everyone unearth their precious moments and make them shine. We can help you turn your memories into a beautiful book, ready to be handed down from one generation to the next. Get in touch with us today for more information.