People have many reasons for being hesitant to record life stories. Among the greatest push backs is that they don’t believe they’ve done anything spectacular in their life. They were not a NASA scientist, didn’t invent something, run for public office, or win an Olympic medal. They think they’re not special enough.
When family and friends ask you to record your stories or suggest you write a book, do it. They are not looking at you and seeing all your negative pushback about yourself. They love you and already believe you are amazing. They would love to have audio recordings or written stories of you telling your tales, usually both. They want something to hold that will outlive you both.
Loved ones are eager to capture your stories for preservation, even if they’re not certain how or where to begin, how long it will take, or what a project costs. They may not yet even know the value or long-term health benefits of sharing family stories.
Remember this: Those everyday moments of yours, filled with experiences and emotions, can only be retold with great passion in your unique voice. It’s never too soon to begin recording life stories.
I recently watched a feature on The Atlantic about the stories of a grandfather that emerged after his passing. The man was a tinkerer, who had a great curiosity in life. He kept dozens of journals about random thoughts or experiences with doodles he drew himself. The entries look like modern-day social media posts, nothing long…just notes that sound like grandpa in a younger time. They interpreted and chronicled the journey of his life. Watch it here.
It’s priceless. As you can hear from the exchange between the father and son in a documentary called The Memory Book, they’re excited about finding so many memories of their grandfather told in his voice. It’s as if he’s right back in the room. The joy and excitement in their voices is hard to miss.
It’s a perfect example of writing stories in your own voice. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just be yourself.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself while contemplating whether to write your life stories.
- What stories do family and friends ask you to tell often?
- If you don’t record your stories and memories of older relatives, will your family remember them accurately?
- When thinking about how you want to be remembered someday, what stories or examples illustrate your life?
- What can you do to put yourself in a comfortable state of mind to begin telling stories?
- Where are you most comfortable telling stories?
- What possessions or photos would help you tell your stories.
- Think of three stories you would have fun retelling. Write them down.
- As you think about telling each story, how can you put the listener in the moment with more details?
- What sights, smells, conversations, body language, expressions, or emotions can you include in each story?
- What reflections can you share from these stories?
Think about the fun you could have in the process.