Writing can be tough. Getting those first words down on the paper is hard enough. Most writers will tell you that there’s nothing scarier than a blank piece of paper or a blank word document on a computer.
When writing your own life story, it can be even tougher. Where do you start? Will you remember everything correctly? What will people think when they read it? Will it be boring?
Sometimes, an initial burst of enthusiasm leads to a few carefully written pages abandoned at the back of a drawer or filed away on an old laptop. Often the task seems overwhelming.
Have you started writing your life story?
The first thing I would say is, well done! Well done for wanting to get your family memories written down. Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will certainly thank you for it. We live in a modern and hectic digital world, where photos remain on phones and emails and texts are sent instead of precious treasured letters. Capturing social, domestic and family history is really important. It won’t be long before there are no memories of a world without Google!
I’ve met so many people who have started writing their own stories but who’ve got stuck or hit the ‘life story brick wall’. There are several pitfalls that you can fall into and it’s very easy to lose confidence and give up. At the end of this blog, you’ll find some quick suggestions to keep you on track. You’ll also be able to download my ten top tips on the best way to capture family memories.
Please don’t give up! Please get those precious family stories written down!
A few months ago, I ran a series of workshops for people wanting to write their own life stories and I was so pleased at how well they were received and how helpful the attendees found them. I’ll be holding some more in the autumn, so if you’re interested, then please get in touch with me and I’ll book you in.
I now also offer a mentoring service where I can guide and help you through your own life story writing journey. I can read what you’ve written so far and offer support and advice, I can then edit your work and lay it out with photos and create a full printed life story book. I’ve recently done that for a lovely client, who was thrilled with her book and so proud of it, knowing that she had written it herself. She sent me a lovely text message when she received her printed books.
“I want you to know how much I appreciate my lovely book. If I hadn’t seen your advertisement in a magazine, I dare say I would never have finished my notes and it would have been left and forgotten! My book is beautifully presented and made and I will treasure it. Thank you so much.”
I’m currently working with a lovely client who is in the process of writing his own story. He had unknowingly fallen into a few of the traps that come with turning a diary into a life story book and I was able to help him and give him some guidance. This is what he said:
“I began writing the life story of my wife and myself some ten years ago with the help of our memories and diaries. Having always been interested in our ancestry, we wanted to leave our sons and grandchildren with more than just sketchy memories.
More recently I decided to seek the advice of Sarah, having seen her advertisement in a local magazine. I am intending to complete our story with our Golden Wedding Anniversary this September, and Sarah’s first suggestion was to include more about my wife’s background. She also suggested arranging the story into separate themes, such as family, working life, holidays, homes etc., rather than sticking to a chronological order.
I am still only halfway through our story, but I am finding it very rewarding, and with Sarah’s help I feel it will produce a much more rounded picture of our lives. Along with family photographs, the end result will be much more than a family album.”
I am so looking forward to seeing the changes he’s made and supporting him as he completes the process.
Here are four quick suggestions to keep you on track with your life story.
- Don’t be frightened of getting anything wrong. Just write! You can edit it afterwards.
- If you’re writing your story on a computer, make sure that all the documents are clearly labelled and stored in one folder. Also, don’t forget to back up onto a hard drive or memory stick, just so you have them if your computer crashes. Your life story is very precious!
- Print out your work and read it in hard copy form. It’s much easier to understand the structure of what you’ve written and you can be more objective. It’s also easier to proof read.
- If you’re writing by hand, try very, very hard to make your words clear and legible.You don’t want to spend all that time writing your life story, to find that your family can’t read it!