Saturday, September 7, 2019
3 Tips for Writing Your Life Story
Contributed by Patrick McNulty
Ready to write the story of your life?
There’s an old saying that everyone has a book in them. When it comes to autobiographies or memoirs, that’s definitely the case!
Writing a life story allows you to do more than just leave a legacy. You can also inspire and guide others with your words. The best life stories really impact the people that read them. They can cause profound and lasting change.
Before you get down to writing your life story make sure you’ve taken the time to prepare properly.
After all, you only get one life. Why not tell its story well?
These three tips will help you make your life story writing experience as positive as possible.
Choose Between Autobiography Or Memoir
Often, the terms autobiography and memoir are used interchangeably. However, there’s a difference between them.
An autobiography covers the complete chronology of a person’s life, while a memoir focuses on a particular part.
To illustrate this, let's consider a chef preparing to write his life story. If he wanted to include stories from childhood all the way through to his adult cooking career, he would write an autobiography. If he wanted to focus on a time where they ran their own restaurant, they would write a focused memoir.
For many people, writing a memoir is the best choice. Why? It cuts to the chase. Most people have a somewhat predictable upbringing. Why not skip it, and get to the good stuff?
No matter which type of life story you choose to write, keep it honest, gripping, and impactful. This will keep your readers enthralled until the last page.
Transport Yourself Back In Time
You know the feeling when you come across an old photo or hear a song that transports you back to a particular time in your life?
When writing your life story, you want to trigger as many rich memories as possible.
Your five senses are powerful helpers here. What type of music were you listening to at a particular time in your life? What kind of clothing did you wear?
Old photos, diaries, and conversations with longtime friends can help. Often, over time, our memories become a little foggy. Bring them into focus the best way you can.
If you feel comfortable doing so, consider including some personal photos or other items within the pages of your life story. This adds a level of intimacy for your reader which wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Make Your Readers Feel Something Strong
To make your life story as effective as possible, you need to share your total truth, without holding back.
Glossy, halfhearted tales won't keep readers interested, at all. You need to be vulnerable and put it all out there.
Think back to the best autobiography or memoir you’ve ever read. You probably felt joy at the author’s successes, and despair during their nadirs.
The key to doing this effectively is to strike a golden mean between too much and too little emotion.
Too little emotion runs the risk of boring your readers, while too much can come across as melodramatic and inauthentic.
Solicit feedback on your early drafts to finetune the emotional potency of your life story. Getting this right is perhaps the main determinant of its impact.
Above all, make your life story exactly as you want it to be. Feel free to break every suggestion on this page.
In the words of Thomas M. Cirignano - “Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.”
Are you ready to explain yourself?
About the Author
Patrick is a writer and aspiring novelist. He's originally from London but travels around Europe. When not at his keyboard working on dystopian fiction, he can be found at the local coffee establishment, enjoying an iced Americano and a novel.
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