Many of us regret not knowing more about our parents and grandparents. Photographs are fine while they’re still around to explain who’s who, but will a dusty album mean anything to future generations?
Writing your life story can help your children or grandchildren to learn more about you. You might not have been famous, adventurous or influential but your family and friends will find your story as interesting as any celebrity autobiography.
A life story book can be an overview of your life, or a snapshot of a particular time, for example childhood, hobby or career. It can heal past wounds, deal with unfinished business or even reveal family secrets.
If you fancy having a go yourself, you could start by writing a memoir, which doesn’t have to include every detail of your life in chronological order - it’s a story from a life, so focus on key events, such as a career or relationship. If you’re tackling a longer life story, select up to 20 key life events and think about how you can link them to create a narrative.
Before you start to write, do plenty of research. You might think you remember everything that’s happened, but look back through old diaries and photographs, listen to music, or visit an old house or school to trigger memories. Decide on the structure and create summaries for each chapter before you start to write. Dialogue and vivid description are great, however, don’t get bogged down in unnecessary detail that slows down the narrative.
And remember that a life story isn’t just about you, it’s about other people, so talk to parents, siblings and other key people for their take on events. However, penning and publishing a book can be daunting, so, if you need help, a life story writing service like Memory Lane Books can help.
During a series of personal visits, an interviewer will chat about your life to gather life stories and recollections before shaping them into a narrative.