Written by: Joe Fiduccia
When we think about the life we have lived and the experiences that make up our ‘story’, most will agree that it’s been quite roller coaster.
Our lives are filled with ups and downs, accomplishments, hardships, and plenty of turns along the way. Many of which we weren’t expecting, and some of which we never wanted to ride.
But despite everything we have endured, that roller coaster of life will one day come to a stop. And when it does, the stories that make up our journey will become nothing more than a distant memory for some, and a forgotten story for most.
With the digital world at our fingertips, more people than ever before are looking for ways to preserve their life story. Because they believe their name deserves more than just a mention in a family tree, and that their face in a photo album deserves to have a story to go along with it.
A private Footprint of your life story can be the perfect way to document your memories. But having no experience as a professional writer or storyteller, many struggle figuring out how to even start this “final story” about their life.
So here are 3 suggestions that can help you start a memoir:
1. Think of it like a casual conversation at the dinner table
You are starting a memoir likely because you want to share your story with your future descendants, just as if you were sitting beside them at the dinner table having a casual conversation.
So why not take a seat at the table, and start talking!
Pretend as if you have jumped into your proverbial time machine and entered a destination far into the future. You show up at the doorsteps of your great, great grandchildren, who invite you inside for coffee. You sit down at the table with coffee in hand, as they stare right back at you from the other side…ready to listen without speaking a word.
What would you say to them?
How would you open those conversations? What stories would you love to get off your chest? What are the moments from your story that will make for great conversation? And what are the things you want them to know from your experiences in life?
See how easy that was?
Simply treat your memoir the same way you would a normal conversation. The only difference is you are writing for an audience in the future that you may never see.
2. Start with something basic
When you begin your Footprint, you might immediately start thinking about the time when your heart was broken from a love that didn’t last. Or that moment when your best friends became your worst enemies.
But stories like that become complicated very quickly because there are usually several components to them. These are memories that you can’t summarize in just two paragraphs, or in a 10-minute conversation at the dinner table.
So instead of starting with an overwhelming topic, why not start with something simple? A few simple examples may include memories about:
• the day you graduated high school
• the very first job interview you went on
• when you stepped foot inside your newly purchased home
• how you purchased your first car
• they day you first met your grandchildren
While still relatively detailed, these are more specific memories that usually aren’t difficult to start with. And as you begin writing about them, you will immediately start thinking of additional topics that are related the ones you chose to write about.
Before you know it, your Footprint will begin to take shape…creating a picture of your life story with a natural progression of events.
3. Add some detail to your starting milestones, but don’t go overboard
Let’s take the example from above about your “very first job interview.” Suppose you chose to write about how you were feeling that day. For example, the nerves you experienced (if any) and how those feelings changed from the beginning of the interview to the end.
As you begin writing, you will no doubt start reminiscing about the other events leading up to the interview. For example, how many resumes you sent out, the companies you wanted to work for, the experience you had in the industry, etc.
So as you start with something basic, don’t be afraid to outline some additional points in your story. A good example in this scenario might be something like “what were your surroundings like? Where were you, who was present, etc.?”
Instead of including some of these details in your first story, you can even jot down a list of titles to new (but related) stories.
But don’t get bogged down in the details. It is natural to want to include more, as this will help you formulate a great story for your memoir. But in the end stick to the basic message you are attempting to share. Don’t be afraid to dive in a bit deeper, and if time allows at the dinner table, share a little more.
These are only a few of the many tips that can help you start a Footprint of your life story. Just remember – you are in complete control. It is your story, and no one else’s. So share what you wish and don’t overcomplicate things. Just store the biggest moments, in your eyes, that are worthy of preservation.
What other tips would you add to the list?
Did you find this article useful? Be sure to check out 5 more great tips for writing your memoir!