a workbook for writing your life story

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How Author Christina Atkins Talks to Her Family About Their Lives

How Author Christina Atkins Talks to Her Family About Their Lives

It can be challenging to talk to your parents about their lives, but sometimes you need that information to make your story work. Even talking to them about your life as a child can feel overwhelming. I Lived This author Christina Atkins has talked to her […]

We won an Independent Press Award!

We won an Independent Press Award!

Great news! I Lived This is the winner of a 2017 Independent Press Award for its interior design. We love this news. We worked hard on the inner pages of the book, so they would be just as engaging and compelling as the cover. Particular kudos […]

How to write your life story book — using your computer

How to write your life story book — using your computer

Are you planning to write your life story on your computer, instead of writing it out by hand? We support you (it’s what we’d do, too!). So, we’ve created a guide with our best advice for how to craft your story and turn it into a real keepsake book. The guide is totally free. Enter your email here to get a copy sent to your inbox.

We know it’s a lot easier and faster to type, not to mention you can edit what you wrote; make sections longer or shorter; skip entire chapters; etc. etc. etc…! When we created the I Lived This workbook, we always knew we wanted to give people an option to type it, using the questions in the book as a jumping-off point.

This guide should help you get motivated, get started, and get through the process. We’ve even included some advice for how to deal with photos and printing. Let us know how it works for you!

This also isn’t our ultimate goal. We’ve got some ideas in the works for how to make this all even easier — specifically, working with printers and even setting up a system to help people write their stories in a way that’s actually fun and easy.

When you download the guide, you’ll get added to our mailing list, and we’ll send you updates on all those cool ideas. We’ll also send you more guides! We’ve got a couple more coming out very soon. We think you’ll like them.

Thanks for living such cool lives. We hope this guide helps you write about them!

Prompts for Writing Your Life Story

Prompts for Writing Your Life Story

Here’s a list of writing prompts that can jog your memory about important events you’ve been through. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and write about one of the prompts. Don’t self-edit while you’re writing, just let the words come out! Work through the prompts […]

What’s the Difference Between a Memoir and an Autobiography?

What’s the Difference Between a Memoir and an Autobiography?

You can easily confuse the memoir and autobiography genres. After all, they’re both written by you and about your life! While they may be similar in nature, the two feature a few key differences that will help you differentiate them. The Subject Do you want […]

How Taking a Field Trip Can Help You Write Your Life Story

How Taking a Field Trip Can Help You Write Your Life Story

You’ve experienced many different places in your life. Some of those places you probably struggle to remember in their entirety. What did the park where you had your first date look like? What color were the walls in your favorite restaurant?

One way you can experience these details all over again is by taking a field trip to the places that had the most impact on you. This doesn’t have to be a long trip, you could go for a single day. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan to adventure into the place, or places, of your past.

Who do you trust to take with you?

Taking yourself to the places of your past can be an overwhelming experience. It’s beneficial to bring someone who you trust to keep you grounded. Having someone who can keep you present and who you can talk with about the details you want to put in your memoir is a sure way to make sure you get all you want out of this trip.

What’s your intention?

While you may just want to re-experience a place of your past, it can be helpful to clarify what you want to get out of this trip before you embark on it. Do you want to remember a particular experience you had in this place? Do you have a particular section of your memoir that you’re writing right now and need to jog your memory for details? Get specific about the things you want to get out of this trip, and then make sure you plan to accomplish them.

What do you need to bring?

Are you a visual person? If so, maybe you want to bring a camera or a sketchbook to record what you’re seeing. If you’re more of an auditory person, you may want to record voice notes while you’re visiting so you can listen to them later and remember every detail of the experience. If nothing else, be sure to bring a notepad and paper so you can take notes on the details you wanted to remember while you were visiting, don’t let yourself forget them before you even get home!

The best way to get yourself to remember details of the past is to re-experience them. If you have the ability to take a quick trip to somewhere that had a huge impact on you and your life, don’t let that opportunity go to waste! Immerse yourself in every detail you can, and see what you can remember from your past that you wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. After that, get writing!

The Power of Writing About Your Vulnerable Moments

The Power of Writing About Your Vulnerable Moments

Your life has been full of experiences, some amazing and some devastating. Now, as you’re writing your memoir, you’ve probably questioned what experiences you want to include in it. You’re writing your life story, undoubtedly there are things that you feel are too private to […]

Famous Writers On Descriptive Language

Famous Writers On Descriptive Language

You’ve probably heard of the concept “show, don’t tell.” This concept demands the use of descriptive language in writing. Instead of telling your readers what happened, show them by painting the scene in such a way that they feel as though they’re inside it. Below […]

Interview: I created a zine as an excuse to meet Dave Navarro

Interview: I created a zine as an excuse to meet Dave Navarro

We’re interviewing people to get their real-life, crazy-but-true stories. Here’s Kris Evins, interviewed by Christina Atkins.

Was there a moment or experience that really sparked your decision to write down your life story?

During the mid-90’s, my friend and I had a local music ‘zine where we traveled around CA interviewing alt-rock/punk band members. Each trip was an adventure, the interviews were just the cherry on top. Everyone we know has always said we should write a book about it. I’ve been wanting to write it literally since we stopped printing…I’ve started it at least five different times. I was on a roll last Nov. during Nano, but then the election happened. My kids read what I had written up to that point, and I couldn’t help eavesdropping when Emily was reading it out loud to Nick. Their laughter was inspiring, and Em keeps asking when I’ll write more.

How do you like to write?

Currently, usually in the evening or at night, on my laptop, in bed, with really bad posture. Sometimes I sit on my back porch on a nice evening but I don’t have a very good set up for that so it doesn’t last long. Also my kids tend to interrupt me more when I’m out there for some reason?

As you’re working on your story, are any things coming back that you’d nearly forgotten about?

Oh yeah, ALL the time. Some things I had completely forgotten about until I was reminiscing with my friend. Others came to mind when I was putting together the outline.

What are you learning from working on your life story?

Even though I wasn’t actively writing at the time, I did a lot of introspection over this past Winter. I was diagnosed bi-polar in 2008, but never really thought about manic/depressive episodes before the birth of my kids in 2004 (postpartum really seemed to kick it into gear). I had an epiphany, as I tracked periods of my life back, that during the time we had the ‘zine, I was having one long manic episode. It was a little disheartening, because I have always looked back on those memories as the happiest time of my life, despite how irresponsible I was being (ruined my credit by maxing out three credit cards funding these trips, put 100,000 miles on my car in one year). But, that explains the creativity, how I could drive to LA from NorCal and back on little to no sleep, why I was financially careless, and probably my bravery in approaching famous people.

Who are you writing it for?

Originally, for myself…that whole “hey, I was cool once” thing I wanted to preserve. Also for the people who thought it would make a good story. Then, for my kids. But now that it all took place 20 years ago, I feel like it will also be nostalgic for my generation, and maybe some Millennials. After my kids’ reactions, it might provide comedic entertainment for their generation as well.

Do you have a short anecdote inspired by either questions in the book or the Facebook group that you’d be willing to share?

The Music Mondays, for sure. So, the story behind the creation of the ‘zine is somewhat problematic, and, in hindsight, kind of uncool…but there was never any ill-intent involved.

The reason we created it was to give us a “valid” excuse (in our 19 year old minds) to talk to Dave Navarro. There was an article in Spin magazine that gave out a little too much detail about where Dave lived in Hollywood, and we were like, “bet we can find it!” And since we didn’t want to travel 8 hours just to knock on his door and say hi, we threw together a fake ‘zine with a fake interview, designed him a “Guitarist of the Month” award that “our readers” had voted for, and came up with ten off-the-wall questions that “our readers” sent in.

This was before Google existed, so not only was it ambitious on our part, but pretty impressive we actually found his place based on a few landmarks. He was actually really, really cool about it…(despite the fact that we were literal stalkers) and we kept in touch for several years after.

After we had successfully fake-interviewed Dave Navarro, we HAD to brag/share…and this was pre-social-media, so we printed up a new issue, and left copies at local record stores, pizza/sandwich shops, cafes, etc. We used our friend’s PO Box (so we’d look “legit”) and one day he said we had some mail…someone had actually read our lame ‘zine, and actually enjoyed it!

After that, instead of stalking people at their homes, we’d catch them outside of venues they were playing (still technically stalking…) give them an award, ask ten weird questions, take a pic, and if we were lucky, see their show for free!

3 Things Not to do When Writing Your Memoir

3 Things Not to do When Writing Your Memoir

Every life story is unique, but some of the mistakes we make while writing our stories are universal. We’ve gathered a few things to avoid while working on your memoir. These aren’t necessarily “rules,” but rather strong suggestions to take into consideration while you’re working through […]

Here’s How You Can Become a Better Writer

Here’s How You Can Become a Better Writer

Do you think you’re a bad writer? Most writers do when they start to write something. In fact, it’s likely a safe to say that all writers have, at one point in time or another, really disliked their written work. So how do you get […]

How To Find Your Voice in Writing

How To Find Your Voice in Writing

It can be challenging to find your voice as a writer. How can you be authentically you, and not sound awkward or stiff? There are lots of great ways to figure out what your voice sounds like, and we’ve gathered a few of them here. Any one of these methods can help you on your journey to write your life story.

Free-write

One of the easiest ways to find your voice is simply to free-write. The concept behind free-writing is just to write down whatever you’re thinking. When you begin, it may feel challenging: you’ll want to edit out parts of your thoughts to make your writing more coherent. As best as you can, try to avoid doing so. If you think the word “um,” put it on your paper. This doesn’t have to be a work of art, and nobody else will read it. This is just for you, to figure out what you sound like without editing. Try free-writing for fifteen minutes, and see what happens as you start to relax into the process.

Ask a friend

If you aren’t sure of what you sound like, you can always ask your closest friends how you communicate. They’ll mostly be discussing your spoken communication, but even that information can be helpful. If they tell you you’re an optimistic, slightly formal person, that is part of your voice. If you’re feeling up to it, giving your friends a piece of your writing can help them to identify what makes your words and tone unique.

Identify yourself 

If you had to describe yourself, what would be the first five words you’d choose? This can help you understand the basics of what to expect from your writing. Once you understand who you present yourself as, you’re more likely to be able to inject those personality traits into your writing as well.

You’re writing your memoir, and that means you get to use the voice that best represents you and your life. Find your voice and let it carry through your writing so that your readers can truly know what your life has been about.