How to start my life story

How do I start my life story?

My life has been so long.

This is the question I get asked every time a potential client contacts me.

It’s true your life has been long and so much has happened. Approaching the documenting of your life is worthy of consideration before you commence and the skills of a life writer are there to help you on your journey.

life story
Just start your life story – just start

How to start my life story – a few pointers


  • Make the commitment.

Many obstacles will fall into your path as to why you shouldn’t start your journey of commencing your family legacy. There are too many to name but here are just a few; ‘too expensive’; ‘too much work’; ‘don’t want to remember it all’; ‘what will the family think’; ‘will I seem like a loser’.

Well, some of those things are true and some aren’t. You won’t seem like a loser – in fact, people will admire you and wish they had done the same. Yes, it is work and yes, it is expensive but so is anything worth having.

You don’t have to remember it all, and you don’t have to document it all. Your life writer will help you through this. Yes, there will be some memories you wish you didn’t have, and yes, you may shed a tear or two – but life writers are skilled at supporting you through that.

Making the commitment to do your legacy for your future generations has to be first and foremost.

  • Contact your life writer and be honest about your budget and your story.

    start my life story
    Be honest with your life writer

Deciding on how much you wish to spend is just another financial decision like others you have made through your life. Some customers say they wish to just get their life story in print and don ‘t care about the cost. Other customers prefer the package deal used by Write My Journey and you buy a unit – you know where you are at each point in the project.

 I think being honest about your story is also important. Some people say they want the minimum budget and then expect to get everything in. I don’t think this is fair to them and certainly not fair to the life story writer.

Being honest about your expectations up front is most important. Compiling your life story is no different to any other service you may have done – both you and your contractor have to know what is expected to obtain a great result.

  •  Do an overview

 Your life writer will do an overview of your life journey and help you put it into chapters. Together, you will work on each chapter until it is complete. This is a very flexible working system and even if you jump from one chapter to another, your final product will be organised and complete.

Keeping to your chapters helps you keep to your budget and control over your story, at the same time as allowing you to adjust your budget and content.Some customers prefer to make notes as they think of different times of their life. Others prefer just to talk and let their memory take them down its path, opening whatever gates come their way. Photos are great and any other memorabilia you may have. Discussions with other people are great memory boosters, as are journals, old calendars or even just googling dates to see what was happening in the world at that time.

  •   Life Stories are boring

A common comment I hear from people is that life stories or biographies are boring to read. I agree with this and therefore, I place the responsibility with the life writer to guide the narrator in the creation of a book that readers can’t put down.

Most people think they must include every single bit of information they remember. That is not true. You can, of course, include everything, but that will be reflected in a bigger budget. Most people will take snippets of their life to reflect their journey, e.g. if you are a cricket player, you could just highlight your most memorable games, rather than every game.

  • Final TipStart my lif

A final tip is not rush it. Knowing that documenting your life story is going to take time and work in the narration, reviewing and reviewing is a fact, so it is wise to keep your deadline in the distant months or even a year.

Writing Life Stories 

Life Stories Australia Inc. 

How to start my life story
Life Story Professionals are life story writers

Write My Journey is a foundation member of Life Stories Australia, the Industry Association for life story professionals.

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Family Stories and Christmas are like Grand Central.

Christmas time and Family Stories belong together as does yummy pudding and custard.

Don’t miss the opportunity

Family Stories
Family Stories and Christmas are warm and fuzzy times

Christmas time is a time when families come together or if they don’t physically, they certainly do mentally and emotionally. Christmas time is a time to rehash all the stories exaggerated or not, of family members’ quirks, strange behaviours or extraordinary life events and experiences.

Everyone has a story and children love to hear them. The stories they love most are the everyday stories we perhaps easily forget, how parents and grandparents met, what happened in the ‘old days’ and of course, they love a bit of ‘naughtiness’ and humour thrown in the mix.

My grandchildren love the stories of when their father at their age, broke the front window of our house, and then a few hours later, the window of his bedroom at the back of the house. They love the story of when he was being particularly naughty and knew he was going to get a smack (as children did in those days); he anticipated his punishment and put a book down the inside of his pants. Of course, I add in that I knew the book was there and let him get away with it anyway, (I think they love this bit best).

Equally, they love hearing of Dad’s successes, claiming the title of Australian Champion of VJ Sailing, his leadership roles in the community and at school. The grandchildren easily relate to all these things and, so they become part of the family story.

Write my life
Daddy’s successes and other funny stories are part of the family history

Families come together because they need a shared past with their kin. People’s identify is strongly tied to the family characteristics and family traits become something to be celebrated and cherished. Even the ‘odd’ people in the family take on a different role when the time is taken to listen to their story and perspectives.

Family stories are part of family culture and tradition and people need family rituals to reinforce their belonging and emotional wellbeing.

Establishing a link between family members and generations through simple stories is one of the most powerful gifts you can give children and Christmas is the ideal time to start your collection.

Recording family stories

Capturing family stories need not be a tedious event. It can be fun and interactive. Smartphones are the magician of the current generation in my view and a very useful tool for capturing life stories.

Older children or adolescents may be thrilled to be asked to approach various people in the family, take them to a quiet spot and record their life stories.  It may be useful to equip the young interviewers with some key questions and leave them to it. Young people are very resourceful once they listen.

Other ways to ignite and record family stories could include:

  • Forming a small circle and starting a conversation by ‘remember when’ will stir up memories that may have lay dormant for decades.
  • Circulating a photo and allowing conversation and memories to explode.

Even if the family Christmas is a small occasion, rekindling memories in the same way and recording them is a warm and fuzzy Christmas day activity.

What happens then

Many families have a tech-savvy member who could collate all the stories and put them on a CD or a family website.

Family stories
Recording family stories and storing them on Family Website or Book – Wonderful

Some families have a writer who could transcribe the stories and put them into a beautiful book for all to share. You could also share any photos from that photo box under the bed that we all have – that would be amazing.

Contact Write My Journey

Alternatively, you could contact Write My Journey and we could write the stories up into a family story album, linking the stories and bring the album to life with much more.

Photos and words make your memoir powerful

Photos and words together are powerful

Is a photo worth a thousand words? Apparently not – that is unless you interact with the photos rather than just accumulate boxes of them under your bed or in a digital file somewhere. Photos and words make your memoir powerful and the story of who you are clear and memorable.

Relying on technology to record an event can detract from the experience and so the personal memory-formation of an event[i]. Emotion has a powerful impact on our memory.  We recall events that have meaning for us in some way. It is a way of holding onto what we consider significant moments in our lives.  Reflecting on a photo will help bring those memories forward although sometimes a photograph can affect our recall as well.

A group photo came to life recently of family members forty years younger. One family member was partially hidden behind someone else. Three people claimed the identify of that lone little body; and tempers did fly a little in the process. The matter was settled when one party drew attention to other details in the photo and gave them context.

Continue Reading

Margaret Catchpole – a hero, a celebrity or just a woman?

Well I have finished my Margaret Catchpole memoir and totally enjoyed the efforts of Laurie Chater Forth.  Laurie and her team apparently conducted quite in-depth research to reveal a reasonable understanding of Margaret’s life. I learnt quite a deal not only about Margaret but about life for a female convict at that time, alone and with no rights as a woman or a life prisoner.

Being a writer of sorts, a nurse and a midwife and one whose life appears to be one of service, I identified with Margaret Catchpole in many respects. I doubt though that I have Margaret’s unresolved optimism and determination to continue to live a life of dedication and positive attitude, which I think she must have to achieve her popularity and good will of her community. Continue Reading