You Don’t Have to be a Writer to Write Your Life Stories

Many people are now choosing to set their life story to paper without ever having written before. People who aren’t writers by trade but want to share their narrative – those who have recovered from injuries, immigrants and refugees, and even farmers, teachers, and business people who want to share their wisdom – are putting together their memoirs that share messages of hope, love, and personal victories.

Memoirs account for a significant percentage of current book sales. According to Nielsen BookScan, total sales of memoir increased about 400% between 2004 and 2008, and it’s even greater today.

 

But…You Don’t Have to be a Writer to Tell Your Life Stories

In the age of self-publishing, digital marketing, and social media, many people are choosing to tell their story without agents, publishing houses, or contracts – and sometimes even without any writing experience.

 

~ “It’s never too late to begin telling your story.” ~

 

Many people are now choosing to set their life story to paper without ever having written before. People who aren’t writers by trade but want to share their narrative – those who have recovered from injuries, immigrants and refugees, and even farmers, teachers, and business people who want to share their wisdom – are putting together their memoirs that share messages of hope, love, and personal victories.

 

If you think you have a life story that’s meant to be shared but don’t think of yourself a writer, consider the following:

 

Who Me?

Donald Miller, best-selling author and longtime writer, once said, “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?”

 

You may never know. People relate to each other in stories. They share their anecdotes and narrate the bits of life they find interesting, funny, or even discouraging, to connect with others. Memoirs are popular reading because they are the stories of progress – we see ourselves in stories of overcoming adversity, traveling to distant places, losing loved ones, and discovering hope. Your story might be the one someone needs to encourage them in life.

 

It’s never too early or too late to begin telling your story – many writers don’t begin writing until later in life, after they’ve had lots of experiences and stories to choose from. And many begin at a young age telling their unique point of view.

 

~ “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?” Donald Miller ~

 

Consider Your Inspiration

What are the stories you grew up hearing? Which pieces of wisdom would you pass on to your children? What disappointments have you faced? The challenges, triumphs, and laughter you’ve experienced in your life are the places to start looking for inspiration.

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Start Small

You don’t have to tell your whole life story in one go. Start by jotting down short stories and isolated memories. They don’t have to be chronological or follow any pattern – they just have to be true to your experience and be part of your life.

 

Breaking your story down into sections of recollections and memories can be an easy way to get started and help you build your overall story. By thinking on these small stories, you will be able to see trends and themes throughout your life, building towards the bigger picture.

 

Do Your Research

Start asking family, friends, old teachers and neighbors about events from your past. Talk to your parents about how they met, to your grandmother about her favorite childhood memory, or an old professor about how they nurture creativity in the classroom. It’s not only a great way to collect information to work into your unique story, but an excellent opportunity to connect with people and develop an authentic writing voice.

 

Perusing old newspapers, journals, encyclopedias, and even watching old movies can create insight into the past and help you discover the supporting details surrounding your story.

 

Don’t get caught up in criticism

As you begin writing, you might start to experience doubt. If you let friends and family read your first drafts, they may question your motives or make unwelcome suggestions. One caution to new writers: don’t get too caught up in criticism. A good rule is to take what you think will improve the story and leave the rest.

 

Don’t allow discouragement to creep in. Feel free to welcome people into your process if you think that their advice and ideas might help shape a great story or jog memories, but ignore unhelpful critiques. Remember, no one is more qualified to tell your story than you are.

 

Take your time

Memoirs are a deeply personal affair – they often bring out emotions, fears, and doubts. It’s okay to take time away from writing to work through things. Your story is important and worth telling, so allow yourself space to sift through memories and feelings.

 

There is no wrong way to tell your story – trust yourself, enjoy the creative process, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

 

Fascinating further reading and listening on writing your life stories:

 

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