Telling Your Story, Part 4…How Can You Start?

Memories! Get Started.

        “I’ve always wanted to write my story, but I’m just too busy!”

         How many times have we used the “too busy” excuse for putting off something that needs doing? And how many times have we heard, “We can always find time for the things we really want to do?”

        If you’re one of those people who would love to pass down their family or personal stories to their children and grandchildren, here are a few practical ways to start:

         Jot memories on scraps of paper as they come to mind and drop them into a folder. Or do this on a computer. You could set up folders for “What I know about my ancestors,” “My birth and earliest years,” “Grade school memories,” “Family life,” “High school and college,” or whatever you find important in your life. When your folders are well-filled, your book is also well-begun.

        Set aside small but regular blocks of time to work on your stories. It’s satisfying and surprising to see you can accomplish in daily half-hour sessions. Or maybe you can reserve Saturdays or at least a couple of hours on your days off.

        Keep a continuing notebook where you write notes and stories for later revision.

        Tape or video record your memories, then transcribe and organize them.

        You needn’t tell everything. Many people think a personal history should start at the beginning and go to the end. But that makes for tedious reading. Carefully choose your incidents to help develop a theme—your struggles to accomplish your dreams, the people and events that made you who you are, or the lessons you want to pass on to your readers. You’ll leave out way more than you tell.

        My own memoir, A Logger’s Daughter: Growing Up in Washington’s Woods, is a series of wide-ranging essays that together tell stories of growing up and lessons learned, each with an overarching theme. The theme of one essay called “Small Wonders” is that God provides for all His creatures, human or otherwise, and that each depends on others for life itself. Each incident I wrote about contributed to my love and respect for nature.

        Methods of writing memoirs are as individual as the people who write them. Find a method that fits into your schedule and begin. When you’re finished, you might find that you’ve written a memoir that will find a place in the hearts of thousands of readers who don’t even know you! For sure, your family down through generations will appreciate your efforts.

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