Writing my Life Story is becoming extremely popular in Australia. In the US and UK, it is a well-established industry. It is something you can do yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you (Life Historian or Life Writer).
So what is it and why would you do it?
Question: What is Writing my Life Story about?
Life Stories or Personal History are about your life, full of all the emotions, feelings and memories that you can recall. They incorporate descriptions of events, places and people that have contributed in some way to your life and can reveal your hopes and dreams, rejections and sorrows.
They are written in first person (I) and usually your voice and character are preserved within the text. They can be published in book form, an audio or a video. They are not usually for public distribution but are considered private for your family, friends and future generations. For this reason, they cost only a fraction of the cost of preparing your life story for public publication.
They are also called memoirs and can be distinguished from biographies quite easily. Biographies are about events in your life and from birth to death, whilst a life story is about a slice of your life and filtered through your emotions and memory.
Question: Why would you do it?
People do it for many reasons but mainly it is a primal urge to preserve our own culture and traditions through storytelling. It has been done by many civilisations throughout the ages, and history has shown us how much we lose by not understanding or knowing our predecessor’s stories.
In recent decades there has been an increasing interest in researching our genealogy and much frustration in recovering information on our ancestry apart from life dates of birth, marriage, and death. If you think of genealogy research as the structure of your life and your photographs as the ornaments, then your life stories are the beautiful and connective tissue that holds it all together.
Question: Do I have a life story?
If you have a life, you have a life story. Mark Twin said ‘There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest, there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.’
Many people want to write their life story to ensure they are remembered the way they want to be remembered and not how someone else would tell it. The probability is people will remember you for only one generation and that you and your stories will be forgotten.
You may want to reflect upon your life passions, your dreams, and your motivations, what drove you to succeed or complete projects or what were your life-changing moments or your six degrees of separation?
Are you ready to share intimate moments or revisit painful moments and emotions? You only have to tell what you are ready to tell and the rest can just drift away as you make the decision to let them fade. There is no right or wrong way, it is your life and Write my Journey is your scribe.
We cannot change what happened to us in our lives but through reflection and reframing, we can change the perspective on an incident that may change the way you feel or the way others perceive you and the event.
Question: Who will want to read my story?
Your friends, family and future generations will. People do want to know, now more than ever before. People feel very connected to their ancestry and benefit from knowledge and culture of belonging to a family clan. Family knowledge is a core resilience builder and a foundation stone in a person’s life, self-esteem and confidence.
Your descendants can learn from your stories, your successes, and your failures. They will see resemblances between you and them, some they will like and others maybe not so much – but they will learn how to use that knowledge to their advantage. Harmful cycles of behaviours can be broken and successful ones reinterpreted and repeated.
Family relationships can be strengthened through a priceless heirloom of family stories and knowledge. It helps provide continuity between generations and aids an appreciation of all that has been.
Question: How does writing my life story benefit me?
- It can be greatly satisfying and very pleasurable to reflect on your life
- It is a source of celebration for our successes and achievements and a reframing opportunity for our difficulties and hardships.
- It improves your health to allow free expression of your emotions and feelings even if it never makes it to the final product.
- It helps clarify your thoughts, giving context to situations that are complex
- It promotes self-understanding and self-belief where it has been lost.
Question: I suppose it is expensive?
Yes, writing your life story is costly whether you do it yourself or employ a personal historian.
But what cost is a priceless heirloom?
The Writing Shed for all your writing and editing needs. www.thewritingshed.com.au