Where to begin when planning a life story

Planning to write your lifes story

People are born storytellers, and there is in you a narrative that has the potential to leave a profound impression on others. For sure, you have unique experiences worth sharing. The tough part is how to condense so many years of your life into one memoir.

It is quite a feat to sort through all those memories and select the ones that will create the most meaningful and poignant biography. If you don’t consider yourself a creative writer, you might find it challenging even to know where to start. Fortunately, you can leave the writing to the professionals.

Professional life story writers use questions about various stages of life to help guide people to put their stories down on paper. If you’re struggling to find the words for your story, these tips can help you.

Consider your origins and family

Succeeding generations of your family will live in a vastly different world to the one in which you grew up. So, preserve your world by writing about your early years and family history.

Write about your childhood home, its rooms, your favourite spots in it and how your family came to live there. Also, your family’s daily routine, games and hobbies. These might not seem riveting details to you, but it will interest future generations. The way your home functioned during your childhood will fascinate them, especially if you had an ice chest in your kitchen rather than a fridge or a copper and a manual wringer in the laundry for washing the clothes.

Write about your own family

Write about your partner. Recollect your spine-tingling days of dating, the magic of falling in love, and your journey together through life. If you have children, write about their birth, childhood and teenage years. Write about their achievements and quirky habits. You may also consider writing about your parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family members who impacted your life.

Elaborate on your working years

You can also write about your career. Did you take part-time positions after school or during college or university? Talk about your first job and how you felt on your first day. Did you feel overwhelmed or confident? Were you excited or terrified? Did you make lifelong friends at work? Tell your readers which jobs you enjoyed the most, and what impact they made on you.

How did you overcome obstacles and deal with the stressful days in your life? Make a list of the toughest challenges you encountered. Then write about them with a positive, distant lens. What trial led to great triumph? What lessons did you learn from it? You never know, you might end up inspiring someone else in the future.

Of course, don’t forget about the fun stuff. Do you dance, paint or play a sport? Have you tried skydiving or bungee-jumping? Have you gone scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef or enjoyed a picnic at Hanging Rock? Did you visit other countries and go sightseeing? What outings with your family and friends did you relish? What brought genuine joy to your life? Share the adventures that put vivid colour in your life.

Look back at your life as a whole

Find a suitable conclusion for your life story and write about what you most love and enjoy about your life. What made your life worth living? Recount things that are sources of gratefulness and pride and tell people what beliefs helped you make it in life. Consider these questions as you look inward and wrap up your life story.

Writing a story worth reading and remembering

Writing a substantial life story needs much preparation, but it is an immensely worthwhile endeavour. It requires a recollection of multiple facets of your life—family, childhood, personal growth, adventures, learnings—and how you can bring these together to form a story worth reading and remembering.

A qualified life story writer can turn your memories and life experiences into a book that will withstand the test of time. Find a storyteller today by visiting the Life Stories Australia Association’s members’ page.

Gabriella Kelly-Davies

Founder, Share your life story

Vice-President Life Stories Australia