One of the markers of a life well lived must surely be the stories, experiences and memories that are told, retold, remembered and re-experienced throughout the life span. Life story writing captures the priceless and the poignant, the truly memorable and the humourously remembered, the historic and the unique. It leaves a legacy of living history for future generations.
Very few things in life have more of an impact on us as individuals than our memories. They have the power to provide us with rich feeling of happiness or can devastate us emotionally. It is for this reason, the power of memories, that it is a healing process to record our memories on paper. Not only is a way to cleanse us of the associated feelings, but it also provides a rich personal history for our loved ones who will live long after we are gone.
Often, part of writing memoirs includes the collection of pictures. This process is a great sharing moment between the senior and other family members. Photo albums are gone through and photos picked. Every photo is accompanied with a personal story that is shared and remembered with fondness. There can be time spent together thinking about these memories and organizing them into a timeline to see what the memoir’s story will be at a glance.
Writing Your Life Story:
• Write in small sketches of 5-10 minutes on specific topics, such as a favorite holiday, the first job, a memorable world event.
• Engage family members in the process. Invite correspondence, or ask nearby relatives to scribe “spoken poems” by writing down everything that is said, in your exact words.
• Join a life story or memoir writing group. Ask at your senior center, library, or doctor’s office. If a writing group does not exist, see if you can get one started.
• Tell the stories of how you participated in world history. Where were you when you heard WW II had ended? How did you and your family spend the Great Depression years? Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated?
• Write your “ethical will.” What life learnings, personal philosophies, mottos, and core values do you want to leave as legacy to your descendants? How did you learn these lessons or acquire these philosophies?
• Ask someone in your family with computer skills to compile your stories into a self-published memoir. Scan in family photos and memorabilia for illustration.
Here are four tips to help you start the creative, rewarding process of writing your memoirs:
• Write an outline.
• Identify themes and use specific scenes to demonstrate those themes.
• Set the scene and use specific details to breathe life into your story.
• Use the scenes and stories you tell as a means of reflection.
Write your story… If you’ve ever wanted to write your memoir but didn’t know where to begin, the Belleville Public Library will be sponsoring a Writing Your Life Stories workshop on Thursday, May 10 from 10-12:30. This motivational presentation, led by Linda Bond, is designed to jump-start your memoir writing or help you to continue on your writing journey. It will provide an overview of personal experiences, effective writing tips, and valuable resources. There will be a short writing exercise and time for questions. No registration is required for this free event. For more information please call 613-968-6731 x2037.