Capturing Your Life Story

Today, more and more people live far away from extended family and only communicate on special occasions. Which is too bad, because they are missing out on the valuable experiences of hanging out with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who may or may not know how to text and use Instagram.

Right now in our busy lives we think we can connect tomorrow, or soon, but when the time comes it too is filled with busy activities leaving little time for meaningful conversations. In our world of two (or three) income families this trend seems to be accelerating.

Over the next couple of generations, our children and our children’s children may come to know very little of their ancestry and traditions of the tribe to which they belong. Unless you make a conscious decision to write down your memories of the stories of your family and especially you, they may be lost.

Overcome Being Overwhelmed

Almost all of the writing students who have attended my memoir writing class admit to be absolutely overwhelmed with photos, papers and memories. They feel they are drowning and need help in sorting out what is important and will leave a legacy and which should just be thrown away.

My method and belief is that our life is like a strand of pearls. The whole thing is an autobiography and wonderful to have but not necessarily used often. Each pearl, however is an anecdote and life lesson which will enrich the life of the reader. You may choose to join a few pearls into a short history, with the emphasis on story, or a few more into a little longer booklet to talk about a specific subject.

Think of Your Life as a Series of Scenes

Each of the pearls or scenes can be a stand-alone story. The scenes or pearls are more interesting if they have a common theme. What is it that ties all these stories together? What is the hook? What is the moral or teaching moment? What do you want the reader to understand about you and himself? Is there a life lesson involved or just a lot of facts and dates?

You may want to explore your career path, or how you gained your spirituality, or your memories of parenthood. Make a list of the scenes just as if they were in a movie.

Write as if you were talking to your grandson. Write in conversational tone and with emotional words. What you are writing is called non-fiction narrative. You are telling true stories, just like you have all your life. Learning how to write narrative is simply a matter of learning how you talk when you are having a conversation with someone who loves and wants to learn from you, and putting it on paper.

Leaving a Living Legacy

This sharing of a certain portion of your life can be focused on a certain time period or based on photos and describing the stories around them.

There is nothing tangible you could leave in your will or estate that will have as long lasting and far reaching effects on the individual readers or viewers as the story you share. Your efforts and sacrifices in completing this project will be appreciated and treasured for generations to come.

While this is a great legacy to leave for others, the one person who benefits the most is you. You will find that reminiscence is therapeutic and healing. You will be able to reflect on past events with new eyes and new understanding.

Keep Writing

Do not stop to edit, criticize or worry about perfection as you write. Do not worry about whether you got a date wrong or the spelling of a name incorrect. Write fast and edit later.

The more you write the better writer you become. It does not have to be literary best-seller. It may only touch the heart of one reader, who will be grateful for your efforts.

Memoir Writing Class

If you have more interest in learning how to write memoirs or family stories, you can also take a look at my five-star online course called “Write Your Memoir In a Weekend: Putting Life in Life Stories” on Udemy. For a special discount, enter the coupon code “Halfoff” when enrolling.

And to celebrate National Women’s History Month, the ebook edition of Write Your Family Story: Leaving a Living Legacy is on sale on Amazon for 99 cents today, March 9, through March 11, 2014. From March 12 through March 15, 2014, the cost will go up to $1.99 before going off sale to its normal price of $2.99 on the 16th.

You can write your life story. You know it better than anyone else in the world. Just do it. I have confidence in you.

© Judy Helm Wright