Writing Your Life Story

By Sharon Naylor

May 23, 2012 6 min read

Your kids and grandkids would love the gift of a detailed glimpse into your life story, and reliving the most wonderful memories of your life as you write your personal history is actually a gift for you .

Include anything you'd like, and write it in any medium you'd like. Handwrite your history in a spiral notebook, create a photo and keepsake-filled scrapbook, or even use an online site to record your life story in a photo- and video-filled interactive e-book of sorts. The latter format is growing in popularity, with seniors asking their grandchildren for help uploading photos and video and adding a soundtrack, or even recording portions of their life story in their own voice, to be added as an audio file to their online creation.

There are several websites where you can record your life story and include photos and videos, including Life Memo and Story of My Life. For a fee, you'll gain password-protected access to create your life story online and keep your story safe.

No matter the method you use, handwritten or online, your life story will contain treasured details about your life that go much deeper than "where were you born?" and "in what city did you grow up?" A great life story includes such spectacular details as spending time in your grandmother's garden picking fresh basil, and cooking with her while wearing a little apron that matched hers. Or watching football games with your grandfather and then going outside during halftime to throw the football back and forth, learning to throw a perfect spiral. Or the song you performed during your first solo in the school choir, or the name of the first boy you had a crush on. These are the sparkling details of a life history that future generations will love to read.

*How To Write Your Life Story

It can be overwhelming to face the blank page, or blank computer screen, wondering where to start your life story. The details may swirl within your mind, and you might find yourself with a case of writer's block. So start organizing your life story either by chronology or by topics. There's no rule saying you have to begin at your birth and progress through the years. If you'd like your life story to be a collection of varied essays, it's entirely your project to create.

You might write a chapter on your friendships: who your first friends were, the games you played together, the celebrity crushes you had. You might even decide to write about how you overcame a bully's tactics with your smarts, providing a lesson for your grandchildren.

Write a chapter about your travels, starting with your earliest family vacations: where you went, the clearest and funniest memories you have from them, including the time you were terrified of Goofy at Disney World. That chapter could go on to talk about your summer in Europe after graduation, your honeymoon, exotic vacations with your spouse, the vacations you planned with your own kids, and all the glorious details of those trips. Paste in photos from those trips to be seen in your life history and to make this "book" a more interactive experience.

A smart tip for writing your life story is to think about fascinating comparisons to what your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren experience in their own lives. Imagine how amazed your grandchildren will be that there was a time without the Internet, that you read actual books and magazines and researched your homework in a library. Include photos that show you in front of your family's small television, or your old computer, or holding a massive cellphone that's so different from the technology your grandkids and great-grandkids are or will be using 10 or 20 years from now when they read your life story again.

Give them sensory experiences, such as the names of songs you danced to at your wedding or sang to your children when they were babies. Talk about foods you loved, your signature recipes (include these in your handwriting; your grandkids can scan your recipes and upload them to your online life story site,) and your favorite artists.

Create a chapter about your life's firsts, such as the first time you tasted champagne, visited an island or foreign country, met a celebrity in person or kissed someone. And it's OK to admit you were really bad at it or were disappointed that you didn't see stars.

Write about your spouse: where and how you met, the ridiculous thing you said on a first date, how you thought you'd never get a second date, what you cooked for him during your fifth date, how you did see stars after your first kiss. Your kids, grandkids and future generations especially love the details of relationships, so add plenty of those details to your story, including many details about being a parent and grandparent.

This is your life history to write, one your family will treasure, so go back to it again and again, adding more memories and more details that make you smile.

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