Family history can deepen your appreciation for your ancestors and help you learn more about where you came from and what your family has been through. Researching your own family history is important, but taking time to record your life story is just as valuable. Your own story, added to the compilation of your ancestral library, can enrich the lives of your family members now and in the future.
Ways to Share Your Life Story
Many of us are familiar with autobiographies, but that’s not the only way you can share your life story. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it and have fun. Here are some other options for recording your history:
- Audio recordings: By using a phone or voice recorder, you can record yourself telling your life story.
- Video: Consider filming yourself sharing your story. You can even have someone stand behind the camera and ask you questions to keep you on track.
- Social media postings: If you choose to use social media, be aware of privacy settings and ownership rights on your chosen platform.
- On a blog: Creating a blog is a great way to share your life story and connect with people who have been through similar experiences. If you choose this method, make sure you have a plan for what to do with your posts and pictures when you’re no longer able to keep the blog going.
- Write a novel: Using experiences you’ve had in life, you can write a novel and change the main character’s name and other small details. This will allow you to share impactful moments in your life in a unique and interesting way.
Read on to learn more about the process of sharing your story and how you can stay organized when doing so.
- Gather Needed Supplies
Before you start brainstorming, writing, or recording, make sure you have all the materials you think you’ll need. Having your supplies ready ahead of time can eliminate the need for unnecessary interruptions that can disrupt your flow of ideas and information.
Depending on how you choose to tell your life story, you’ll want to have a computer, notebook, writing utensils, a video camera, or more. It’s also a good idea to gather memorabilia like past journals, scrapbooks, or photo albums.
During the brainstorming stage, the goal is to write down as many memories and life experiences as you can. If you start brainstorming and realize you would like to write in-depth about one specific instance or trial in your life, you can also write a themed memoir to supplement your whole life story.
A memoir is a collection of anecdotes and lessons, usually surrounding a certain time in your life or a specific theme or angle. An autobiography, on the other hand, is typically a chronological account or report of your life.
Depending on which you choose to focus on, the steps to doing so can vary slightly. However, brainstorming is a critical step for either. Use the template below to help you get started.
- Write Your Outline
Now that you have your memories brainstormed, it’s time to organize them into an outline. One of the easiest ways to do so is by listing out your life experiences in chronological order. Once ordered, you can go back and review the items you brainstormed and determine if it’s something valuable for your story, or if you should spend a little more time on a different experience that shaped you or prepared you for something else in life.
This is also a good time to brainstorm a few more ideas if possible. Take your time. If you’re helping a parent or friend write their life story, try not to rush them. This is an important step and you don’t want to miss anything you later wished you had included. Likewise, don’t take too much time trying to make it absolutely perfect. Once you start writing or recording, you can still make changes as needed.
- Write or Record Your First Draft
No matter whether you decide to write or record your story (by video or audio recording), try to go straight through the first draft without stopping to revise. This can disrupt the flow of information and make it more difficult to keep going.
Once you have your first draft all written out, it’s time to review and revise. Take a few days off between your first and second drafts to clear your mind and re-motivate yourself. Telling your life story can be a lot of work, so pace yourself. You may end up going through several rounds of editing, so it’s important to keep your end goal in mind to stay motivated.
Though a lot of work, telling your life story can be very rewarding. Imagine your descendants reading through your autobiography or memoir and feeling inspired to do good or make a change in their life for the better. Family history has the ability to inspire others, and by telling your story, you’re helping your legacy live on, as well as that of your ancestors.