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Telling Your Life Story: Taking the Plunge

So, you have this awesome life story to tell and you want to create a memoir that will last forever. Perhaps you want to see your very own biography on the shelves of your favorite bookstore or you simply want a touching book of personal stories to give your children. Whatever the reasons that you want to set pen to paper and record the moments of your life, there are some issues that you may encounter and considerations that you must make. Published or private, a straight, chronological biography, or a collection of warm, thoughtful, personal stories? Whatever way you decide to go, when you decide to tell your life story, where do you begin?

Deciding to write your life story is the easy part. The rest of the process can be overwhelming and it can be easy to get caught up in the details. But if you take some time to organize your thoughts, you can create a life story that is endearing, powerful and will evoke the reactions that you anticipate. If you can't see the story for the details, it is time to take a step back and just start writing. There are several ways that you can accomplish this: brainstorming, outlining your story or simply just writing. Whichever direction you choose to take, take your time and keep your story in mind. The details can be worked out later.


Brainstorming is a great way to get your thoughts on paper. Some people use a notebook to just write down thoughts, but another method that you may find more useful is to use note cards or sticky notes. On each card, write down a thought. It may be an anecdote from your life, a memory or just an idea. Don't think about how they tie in or whether they are even relevant, just write down the thoughts, giving each its own card. Next, group all like thoughts together, making stacks of the cards in their respective category.  Now look at each category and decide how they tie in with each other. Give the category a name. It could be memories or childhood or parents, this just serves as an organizational tool and there is no right or wrong.


Outlining is another way to get your thoughts in order. Outlining is easy, but you may want to use strips of paper at first so that you can move them around until your outline is in the order that you want. The general structure of an outline is the main topic or category is always denoted by a Roman numeral (I, II, III, etc). Subtopics fall below the main topics and an uppercase, alphabetical letter (A, B, C, etc) while details under each of the subtopics use a number (1, 2, 3, etc). This is usually as far as many people go with an outline, but you can take it another step. Below each number, you can list details and use lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.) to indicate them.

Just Write 

This is probably the easiest way to start - just write. Write down your stories and thoughts, allowing each story or thought its own sheet of paper. If you are using a computer or word processor, allow each its own individual file. Label each file or sheet of paper with a brief description of the contents, then you can organize them into the order that you wish. As you write, don't be too terribly concerned with grammatical or even syntactical errors, you can edit and clean up your copy later.  This is really just a preliminary step in writing your life story. You can do the spit and polish steps later when you are closer to completion.


As you are writing your life story, keep in mind your purpose and intent. These do's and don'ts may help.

Don't allow the idea of writing your life story intimidate you. This is your own personal project and there are no right or wrong ways to do it. Present it in the way that is right for you. 

Do carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. You never know when you will remember a particular fact, incident or name. Have a small notebook handy to record the information so you won't forget it.

Don't be afraid to ask others for their contributions. Ask friends and family members for their contributions and recommendations to your life story.

Do include personal photos. Personal photos can add impact to your finished story.  Pictures add another dimension to your life story by giving your readers a visual to compliment the words.

Don't sell yourself short. Don't fall into the traps that many people do when they think about writing their life story. Don't think that you are not a good enough writer or even that your story is not interesting enough to generate reader interest. Everyone has a story in them.

Do tell your story your way. Tell your story your own way.  Use your own personality and write as you speak. Pour yourself into your story; don't write it the way that you think others would.

Don't limit yourself. Don't hold back and set limitations for yourself. You can write your life story and it will be interesting to people. Most of all, you CAN do it so throw out those limitations and get to work!

Do relax and have fun. Stress is a creativity killer. Relax and have a good time with writing your life story. 

Writing your life story is a great adventure that is great for not only you, but your family as well. Others can benefit from the lessons you have learned and it will allow you to live on forever. 

The website: of course has stories that you can click on to see other people’s stories they’ve written about themselves, and of course there is the foundation that keeps these stories in perpetuity.