Write your life story

Everyone has unique, valuable life experiences that should be preserved for future generations. Since writing an autobiography may not be as easy as it sounds, careful planning will help you achieve your goal. The following suggestions may also prove helpful:

  • Visit the scenes of your past. Physical sites can trigger memories. Return to your old neighborhood haunts and hangouts. (Sometimes things have changed so much that this technique may not work as well as anticipated.)
  • Review family photographs and papers. Talk to relatives. Create a family tree -- do your genealogy. Future generations will enjoy reading about their ancestors. Try to place names with the faces in the pictures, it adds a personal touch. Ask lots of questions and press for the little details.
  • Gather your memories. Think back to your earliest recollections. You'll find that often with each memory, another will be triggered.
  • Establish a workstation. Stick to a daily schedule. All you need is a desk and a chair. Be serious. Treat your writing like a new career. Work on the project at the same time every day. It is important to make it part of your routine.
  • Compose your book one step at a time. Break up your project into smaller portions, which will later become chapters. Start with a chronological list of the major facts in your life, and list related topics, i.e., a favorite pet, childhood games, your first crush, whatever you remember. Use the basics (who, what, where, when and how) to add to the detail. Don't worry about the quality or style of your writing.
  • Pretend you are telling the story to a captive audience, add descriptive details to increase interest. Imagine that your grandchild or a close friend is listening to your stories. Appeal to all five senses.
  • Keep a notebook or tape recorder handy to capture memories as they come to you. Ideas don't always come at the most opportune times. If you put off writing them down or recording them, there is a good chance you will forget details.
  • Don't worry about writer's block. If you try to write but can't -- don't give up. Read through what was written the previous day to get back on track ...try again, later. Write down short thoughts and ideas that pop into your mind. Pick a simple noun (such as dog or school) and expand on it by recalling a specific incident that relates to the word.
  • Edit what you have written. To avoid getting stuck, don't begin this task until you've finished the entire book.
What to strive for:
  • A natural sounding voice.
  • Avoid coming across as pompous or self-righteous.
  • Avoid repetition.
  • A clear, chronological flow of events.
  • Complete and varied sentences.
  • Explanations for obscure or technical terms.
  • Sparing use of exclamation points!!!!
  • Honesty -- No one's life is all sugar nor all vinegar. Life is bittersweet.

You are the kind of person you are because of your life experiences.
When writing your story, remember - don't sell yourself short ...or apply for sainthood.

Connie Eccles, ComPortOne Editor

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