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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Writing memoir

Writing Memoir doesn’t mean ‘tell all’

Writing memoir about living people does come with some rules and even warning signs.

We live in a litigious society and whilst people may tolerate family jokes about their quirks and rare moments of inappropriate behaviours, they may not like these instances immortalised in a family story album. Words on a page are unforgiving and a reader may set in their mind-stone facts that are incidental and not true to the person’s nature or life story.

Quirky behaviour
Quirky Behaviour makes you unique

Everyone has moments of indiscretion or behaviours outside of their true nature or perhaps their quirky nature is what makes them unique.  A former friend of mine filled his waking hours telling stories of other people’s odd behaviours and life moments, thus ensuring that person earned a reputation for being inappropriate or an odd-ball. This former friend eventually earned himself a poor reputation. Similarly, writing memoir from a disposition of negativity, anger or criticism can lead to your work being dismissed which is not what you intend. It can also leave you vulnerable to legal action.

Telling your Truth

Writing memoir is about telling your truth as you perceive it; however, a wise and responsible writer will firstly explore their perspective with insight and humanity. Writing memoir is often tempered by the unleashing of emotion whether it be anger, joy, grief or happiness. Making a distinction between the expression of words reflecting a focused writer connecting readers to the rich tapestry of their life and family history and the undisciplined drainage of harsh and critical negative views is the hallmark of a quality life story writer and memoirist.Continue Reading

Samples of Letter of Life Celebration

Letter of Life Celebration – Sample 1  (excerpt only)

I am the eldest of Jim and Jo Madden’s eight children. I was named after Rosemary for remembrance and it was post World War II, and Jane my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. Whilst I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Jones, I look like her. My great grandmother however, Elizabeth Jane May (nee Jones) has been in my soul since I was a little girl. Although our lives have been very different, I have always felt very connected to her. It isn’t because she showered me with gifts such as pretty dresses and teddy bears and watched me dance on the table when I was three, but because my basic nature is similar to hers.Continue Reading

A Personal Historian and Life Writing are what? Isn’t that expensive?

A Personal historian is someone who sits with you, listens to you and creates a lasting legacy in the form of a book or video of your life reflections. Life Writing is non-fictional writing that records a person’s memories to tell the story of their life or parts of their life experiences. The cost relates to what you want done. It is like a holiday where you may choose to have a wonderful camping holiday with its special intimate moments or a grand luxury stay at an international hotel. Anyway, how do you value the priceless gift of a completely personalised book on your life that will be treasured for generations?

Life Writing is one of the most dynamic fields of modern writing and is generating a lot of interest amongst people of all ages. The genre is available to all people and can the final product can be as small as you like or as big as you can afford. Usually, although not exclusively, they are private books or videos that will be handed down through generations as perhaps war medals. They also serve to share precious photographs and treasured documents amongst  family members.

Personal Historian
A Life Historian will help preserve those stories she will want to know

Continue Reading