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 […]

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.

Relive the Time of Your Life by Writing Your Memoir Chronologically

Relive the Time of Your Life by Writing Your Memoir Chronologically

What time period in your life was most important to you? If you can remember events in the order they happened, organizing your memoir chronologically may be for you. Writing chronologically doesn’t necessarily need to start with your birth, you just to make sure you’re […]

Little Writing Tips to Help You Get Started Writing

Little Writing Tips to Help You Get Started Writing

You may not know this, but you’re a writer. No matter if you think you’re a terrible writer, or if you think you don’t have the skill to be a writer, the fact is still that you are a writer. Writing is one of those […]

The Sights, Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feelings of Memory

The Sights, Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feelings of Memory

Memory is heavily tied to the senses. When you want to access old memories, the most beneficial action is to trigger your senses to put you back in that memory.

Senses can be triggered in any number of ways, and more than one sense can be triggered in the same event. Try working through some of these questions, and some of these actions, to help you recall old memories.

  • What food did your grandparents eat? If you were around them when they made food, what did it smell like? What did it taste like? Recreate their favorite dishes. What does your experience with this food make you remember?
  • Growing up, what did your house sound like? List all the sounds you can think of that were commonplace in your house. Try to find the sounds on the internet. What do those sounds make you remember?
  • Growing up, what did your house smell like? List all the smells you can think of that wafted in the air. If you can recreate those smells, do so. What events do you remember surrounding those smells? What do they make you think of?
  • What clothes did you wear when you were a teenager? Find images online that look like the clothing you wore. What do you remember about the way they felt and the way they smelled? What do you remember happening in those clothes?
  • What was your address when you were a child, a teen, and a young adult? Find your past homes using Google Earth. Look at the surrounding area. Go back to the addresses if you can. Look around. What’s the most prominent memory you have doing this?
  • What was your favorite candy? Buy it and experience the smell and taste. Think back to the times when you ate it. This can also be done with meals and restaurants.
  • What was your favorite music as a child, teen, and young adult? Listen to it online. What memories come up when you’re listening to that music? Did you go to a concert? If you did, look at the concert venue online. Did anything significant happen at that concert?

These are just some questions to get you started. If you have other ideas to trigger your senses, and therefore your memory, go for it! The aim is to get yourself to experience your memories again so that you can write your life story with the details you lived.

Clear Your Mind and Experience Your Memories: Self-Hypnosis and Meditation

Clear Your Mind and Experience Your Memories: Self-Hypnosis and Meditation

Is there something you’d really like to remember more clearly? Self-hypnosis and meditation both can be used to help you better remember past events and other memories. While the terms “self-hypnosis” and “meditation” may sound intimidating and strange, it can greatly benefit you while you […]

Writing About People and Places Can Help You Start Your Memoir

Writing About People and Places Can Help You Start Your Memoir

What are the people and places that have had the greatest impact on your life? Writing about those people and places can help you to work through what’s most important to you. Here’s some things to keep in mind when you’re writing about a subject. Focus […]