You don’t have to dream of being a best-selling author to consider capturing the story of your life in book form. Everyone has a story, whether it’s your whole life’s story (an autobiography) or some especially unique experience that calls for a separate story of its own (a memoir). If you have children, it’s particularly important to write a memoir so memorable moments don’t get lost over the years. Details of events can be forgotten over time and the line between reality and memory can fade. Capturing your life’s journey while it’s fresh in your mind is most meaningful and significant. Don’t assume no one is interested in the life you’ve lived. The lessons you’ve learned because of the experiences you’ve had may be just the perfect guidance or motivation for loved ones who one day read your story.
Personally, I decided to write my own story a year ago. I’ve been blessed with some pretty interesting experiences in my life, which I realize have had a strong impact on how I’ve grown throughout my life. When I shared my story with my children, I had no idea the impact it would have—particularly on my two oldest granddaughters. Their feedback was heartwarming and confirmed for me the importance of sharing. One granddaughter even suggested I record the book in my own voice so when she marries and has children she can play it for them. That way, they will feel like they know their great grandmother. She said that for them, it would be like it was for her when she and her sister were young and I would sit and read books to them. What a loving thought to know that even after I’m gone, I could remain an important part of my loved one’s lives.
A good autobiography or memoire, like any good book, allows its reader to get a glimpse into the life of the author emotionally and personally, and experience their joys and tensions as if being with them through it all. It can be intended for one person or a multitude of readers, sometimes it’s purely for family, sometimes it includes friends. It can be extensive or limited to specific parts of your life. It can be chronologically organized or an unorganized collection of individual stories. It can include whatever you like because, after all, it’s your book.
One way to begin to write a memoir is to pull out an old photo album. Often photos will trigger memories you may have tucked away. Or, you might simply begin with a list that includes things like: Birth through elementary school years; high school and college years; early career years; turning points; special occasions; special travel; unusual events; famous or interesting people you’ve met; places you’ve lived; accomplishments; lessons you’ve learned along the way; and anything else that holds a special spot in your memory bank.
You may be amazed that as you begin to write a memoir, experiences or special people suddenly surface from your memory bank; situations that in retrospect, were quite significant in your overall life. Perhaps as you’re writing you will also sense a common thread that becomes an underlying message—like ‘never give up on your dreams,’ ‘always believe in yourself,’ or simply something like, “live life to its fullest.” Writing your story helps to look backward and more clearly see what helped to get you where you are today. That can be a valuable lesson to share.
Writing your story helps you to leave your mark—to be remembered for the things for which you want to be remembered. Sometimes revisiting the past helps bring a new perspective of wisdom to a fence that needed some mending. Recalling experiences and people that were important in your life can stimulate feelings of joy, nostalgia and sometimes, even sadness. Yet overall it can be one of the most satisfying and invigorating feelings you ever experience. So don’t let time pass you by; write a memoir or autobiography before you die. You’ll be glad you did and your loved ones will as well.
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