(Or fingers to keyboard?)
There are few better ways to activate your brain connections than writing your life story or memoir.
A memoir maps an aspect of your journey, turning it into a written narrative of a moment in your life or a collection of memories. It creates a keepsake by which your family, friends and future generations will remember you.
Writing your life story can help the people closest to you better understand your unique personality. It can also enable you to share the wisdom you gained from the mistakes and triumphs you made along the way.
However, writing a life story is no simple task, especially with the decades and decades of memories you need to sift through and sort.
How Can I Write About Myself?
Writing about yourself doesn’t have to be as daunting as you’d imagine. It’s actually pretty easy once you get started.
If you want to write about yourself, follow these easy steps:
- Introduce who you are
- Include relevant information, good or bad
- List your achievements
- Add personal details
- Be friendly
- Reflect on your past and how it shaped you today
To help you get started, here are some tips to make it easier for you.
1. Keep Your Readers In Mind When Sharing Your Life Story
Life writing is one person’s perspective on the truth surrounding an event or reminiscence. It must be as honest as possible, telling the truth as you remember it.
You might want to tailor how you write your life story for the audience. Maybe how you write for your family members will differ from how you’d write for the public.
You could also think about using writing techniques such as using conversation and balancing showing and telling. The brain stores memories as sensations, so when you create scenes in your narrative, remember to record the sights, sounds, smells and textures. Show the reader what was happening in that moment rather than telling them. So instead of saying a car drove down the road, write a red vintage MG roared round the corner. This fires up your readers’ imaginations and enables them to interpret the scene for themselves.
Anton Chekov was a master of the difference between showing and telling: ‘Don’t tell me the sun is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.’
2. Write, Write, Write
Many people find it hard to start writing. It’s important to set aside a place in your home that is your dedicated writing space. Developing a regular writing habit is also vital.
At first, you might struggle to sit and write every day, but if this is the case, just write for ten minutes each day and gradually build it up. Once you get going, you’ll find it difficult to stop writing.
The wonderful thing about ‘writing my life story’ is there is no need for invention or creation—only remembrance.
While this does not make writing a memoir any more straightforward than writing a novel, it means you will have more than enough content to include (and later, probably exclude!)
3. Think About Specific Events
Memoirs capture a specific story or moment in the writer’s life rather than the ‘life as a whole’ focus of a life story or autobiography.
Once you’ve found a specific point in time, put pen to paper and start writing. Keep doing this for different chapters in your life; you can then organise them later.
4. How Do You Want To Organise Your Story?
There are many ways you can share your life story, so knowing how you want to organise it is vital. But you don’t have to know the structure of your story to get started. Just write about your memories and at some point in the process you will decide on the right structure.
The structure is entirely up to you. Just get started by writing about specific periods in your life, then when you are ready, arrange them how you see fit. These might include: a chronological structure, a theme-based structure, moving from the present to the past, or foreshadowing to make your narrative more compelling.
5. Choose A Theme For Your Story
Adding a theme to your life story is a clever way of engaging your readers. Some ideas for selecting a theme are:
- Is there something I long to share?
- Is there a running theme throughout my life?
- Key turning points.
- Lessons learned.
Any theme that a reader could relate to is a great place to start.
6. Get Friends And Family To Jog Your Memory
Remembering all your life events and what led to them can be tricky. But you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re struggling to remember key details from certain events, try asking friends and family that were with you on the day. Ring up old/current friends, family members and whoever else you can to reminisce on the past events. What you learn might surprise or even shock you.
They are guaranteed to remember things you have forgotten. Doing this can totally change your perspective of the life event or that time of your life. You’ll also be surprised at how many other stories flow from remembering one particular event.
7. Use Photos To Relive Your Memories
There’s no better way of jogging your memory than looking at old photos or home movies. Looking at photos can help you remember the smaller details of that event by showing you who was there, the expressions on their faces, their gestures, what they were wearing and their hairstyles. You’ll even learn what the weather was like that day.
Dig out some of your old photo albums and home movies and see what memories they evoke.
8. Add Emotions To Trigger Your Readers Emotions
Readers engage with a story when it evokes an emotional response.
And the best way to do this is by:
- Making them laugh
- Shocking them
- Making them cry
- Making them happy
- Surprising them
- Delighting them.
The list really does go on and on.
Take your readers on an emotional journey that inspires them to keep reading till the next chapter and beyond.
9. Use Video And Audio To Record Memories
If you are not much of a writer, writing your life story will seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to record your life story without writing anything, you still have options.
You could start making audio or video recordings to document events in your life. These recordings can be transcribed and a writer could do the storytelling for you.
Working closely with a writer in this manner can be very beneficial for creating your life story.
10. Enjoy Writing Your Life Story
The most important thing to remember when writing your life story is to enjoy it. Looking through the past might not always be pleasant, which can make it hard. But the therapeutic benefits that come with it can be truly empowering.
Nothing brings more emotional and psychological healing than telling your story from your perspective.
Do you have tips to share about writing your own story? You are creating a piece of social history so do share your ideas and experience with others.