You’ve been through a lot in life: exceptional experiences, powerful passions, happy happenings, sorrowful situations. On occasion, you’ve thought to yourself, “I should write about what’s happened to me.” You may not even be sure why. Would you be writing a memoir for yourself, for your kids, for kindred souls? Or should you consider writing a book for publication?
So, you contemplate the idea for a while but before long your motivation fades. After all, who are you to write your life story? You’re not famous. You’re no genius. Maybe you convince yourself that there was nothing so special about your life. Or perhaps you think the opposite. So much has happened that it’s all so perplexing; where would I even begin?
My mission today is to encourage you to tell your story. First, I’ll tell you why. Then I’ll share with you how to begin.
Do it for yourself.
Reviewing your life with a reflective mind will be a creative journey for you, helping you appreciate all you’ve been through, all you’ve learned, all you regret, all you’ve achieved.
Do it to connect to others.
Our society is now into genealogy. Trace your ancestors back to the 1800’s or earlier! But what do you get? A name; a marriage date; children’s birth dates and names. But truly you know nothing about these people or the lives they led. Think of what it would mean if those who came before you had written meaningful material about their lives. Wouldn’t you appreciate knowing something about them other than the basic facts? Won’t future generations want to know something about you other than your name, date of birth and date of death?
Do it to appreciate your past.
So much has changed in society since you were a kid. You needed to adapt. How did you do it? What was hard for you? What was easy for you? What do you like about the way things are now? What do you miss about the way things used to be?
Do it for your yet to be born kids, your kids or grand-kids.
Even if they are totally absorbed in their own lives and don’t want to know anything about you, (except what you can do for them), have faith. One day they will outgrow their narcissism, and will truly appreciate the stories you write.
Do it to make your photographs come to life.
Imagine how meaningful those family photos will be when you flesh them out with interesting and informative tales about your thoughts and feelings in the moment.
How Would I Even Begin to Write?
You don’t have to tell it all. You can keep your deepest, darkest secrets to yourself. You are in charge. Nobody will force you to do anything you don’t want to do.
You don’t have to write a memoir about your whole life. Choose the stories that are most interesting to you and begin.
Begin with a title.
A working title may help you get focused. It can be something like, “My biggest surprise,” or “A turning point in my life,” or “The hardest part of my childhood.”
Begin with a writing prompt.
If your mind is suddenly going blank (anxiety can do that to you), and you feel unable to come up with any idea, your creative juices may need a writing prompt. It may be something you overheard someone say, such as, “I saw my ex-lover on Facebook; I always thought of him as “the one that got away,” but now…….. Or, perhaps something from the media will help kick-start your muse , such as, “It’s not only Letterman who had a Top 10 List; I did too. Let me share that with you….”
Enough thinking about it; enough talking about it, begin writing. Don’t worry about how good it is; editing comes later. Every time you hear yourself saying “I’ll do it later,” change that to “Right now, I am sitting down to write….”.
And remember that all things are difficult before they become easy.
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die,
we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
Sue Monk Kidd
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and success coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior.