a workbook for writing your life story

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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 […]

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 parents about all of this. While not everyone will have the same relationship with their parents (so talking to your parents may not look the same as her experience), you may find some helpful information in what she has to say.

First and foremost, Christina is the “self-appointed family historian of her generation.” Beyond collecting stories from her parents and relatives, she collects whatever else she can—photos, objects, etc. After her teenage years, she “started getting fascinated with all the different stories and the different perspectives, like puzzle pieces to a puzzle [she] had no frame of reference for.” To her, this collection is about understanding legacy, and finding a way for people to live on after they’ve passed.

Her dad, she says, has always been one to tell stories. She’s given him a digital recorder, and he once did a long, written account for her, but she finds that he now tells his best stories on Facebook. With her dad, Christina says it’s mostly just waiting for him to tell those stories so she can snap them up.

Her mom is a little more challenging to get stories from. She “has always just plowed on through life, making art or working, she never stops moving.” Christina says most of the stories she has from her mom are context for events in life, or stories she tells randomly.

In all, Christina says her parents have never been that hard to approach. She’s never had to set a time or place, nor has she ever had to create interview questions. It’s a much more natural process for her to get information from her parents. “It feels like the natural progression of my role in the family…it just happens when it happens.”

While she does feel this is just her natural part in the family, she also gives a great piece of advice: don’t wait. “There’s nothing worse than regret when the time is gone, and if this is something you feel you need to do, like I do, there’s really no time like the present.”

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 […]

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 on the subject at hand

This is easy to understand, but can be challenging to accomplish. When you’re writing about one person or place, make it your focus. If the subject requires you to give backstory about another person or place, don’t write it yet. Instead, put all your focus on one story at a time. Write all the way through one subject before you switch to another one.

Ask yourself why

Why are you writing about this particular subject? What have you learned from your interactions with or in the subject? Is there something you want the people reading your memoir to take away from your writing about this subject?

Pick the ones that matter

You don’t need to write about every person and experience in your life. If you don’t think a subject adds to your memoir, don’t feel pressured to include it. This is your life story, and you’re allowed to write about whatever you want to. Not all subjects are created equal, and those that aren’t as important to you don’t need to be included just because they were a part of your life.

With subject-driven stories, you can start wherever you want. If you find one story should be written before another, start there. Think about all of the subjects you could write about, narrow to the ones you want to write about, and then determine what subjects are dependent on other stories. After that, just get started writing!

Three Steps for Writing a Memoir About a Life Experience

Three Steps for Writing a Memoir About a Life Experience

We all have many different stories to tell about our lives, but when you’re writing a memoir, it’s best to not try to tell them all at once. Choosing a specific theme for your memoir will make it stronger and more meaningful to your readers. […]

Four Ways to Organize Your Memoir

Four Ways to Organize Your Memoir

If you were to sit down and write your life story, where would you start? For many people, it starts with an outline. There are a number of different ways in which you can begin organizing your thoughts to get your words on paper; it’s […]

How to Write About Major Events in Your Life Story

How to Write About Major Events in Your Life Story

No matter who you are, you have witnessed something important. Whether it’s a major historical event or a significant life event, how do you start to write about it?

Writing through the important events in your life can be a way to organize your memoir. If you decide to write the events in your life, here’s some helpful tips.

Ask yourself why

Why was the event you’re writing about a big event in your life? What did you learn from that event days, months, or years later? Does the event still impact your everyday life, and if so, how? When writing big events, you want to tie them into your life in general. How has this event changed you, if it has at all?

Organize the events further

Are the events in your life similar to one another? If so, organizing the events by shared subject might help you to write through them. If the events happened in a chronological way, you could write through them chronologically. This is completely your choice. Organize your events in the way you conceptualize them and you’ll be more likely to write through to the end of your memoir.

Understand the events before you write them

If the events involved other people that you still have contact with, try talking through them with those people. If you have record of the events, look through the records before you begin writing. It can be helpful to get your memory running through the events before you begin writing, even if that means just doing a twenty-minute brain storm session before you begin writing about the event.

When you’re done writing through your events, think about what connects all of them. Why did these events matter to you? Connecting them will bring a sense of continuity into your memoir and give you a whole story.

Here’s How You Can Recall Old Memories

Here’s How You Can Recall Old Memories

One of the hardest parts of writing a memoir is remembering the details of the story or experience you’re writing about. It gets more challenging to recall memories the further away from the experience you are. There are multiple ways you can get your memory […]