Have you ever wished you could go back and ask your grandmother what life was like when she was a little girl? Or do you wish you could hear your grandfather talk about his garden and how important it was to him?
We all have these moments, and can be sad to realize that we can no longer listen to these stories. We are all full of memories and lessons learned over the course of our lives. And there’s no better time than now to write them down and save them for posterity. Writing is a great way to preserve your life story!
“These stories would be lost forever, but by writing them down, we are capturing their whole persona before it’s too late,” says Angela Burton, creative writing instructor and host of Oh! I Remember, a writing workshop for seniors.
If you want to begin writing about your life, getting started may seem daunting. Where do you start? You get to decide! Don’t worry about capturing every little detail of your life from childhood on. Think in vignettes, instead. What event sticks out most in your memory? If that’s where you want to start, go for it!
Ask yourself some questions, such as:
- What were the circumstances surrounding the event?
- How old was I? How did that affect the way I perceived the event?
- Who was involved in this memory? Family, friends, etc.?
- Was it a happy or sad memory?
- Did I learn from this experience?
- If so, what wisdom might I have to pass on?
That’s just a short list of possibilities! If you’d like more ideas, a list is available at http://storycorps.org/great-questions/
When writing, remember to be descriptive rather than simply stating the facts. Appeal to the senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing). This helps your reader or listener imagine that they were there with you and therefore make a better connection to your story. Don’t be concerned that your life hasn’t been adventurous or dramatic enough to be worth sharing with others. The bizarre stories are great, but everyday life is just as important and nothing to be ashamed of. It shaped who you are today! You’ve had day-to-day struggles, big and small. Don’t be afraid to share them!
Another important thing to remember, if possible, is to include photos! While your reader’s imagination will fill in visual details of your stories, having tangible memorabilia like photos or other trinkets adds another level of connection! They’ll love seeing what you looked like “back then”!
If you have trouble physically writing, using a video camera or voice recorder are other great ways to make sure you get to tell your stories! And if you’re still in need of ideas to help get you started, this website has a lot of great tips: http://www.patmcnees.com/telling_your_story_29161.htm