Everything has a season — King Solomon recognized the different stages of life and The Byrds turned them into a song that even today, more than 50 years later, gets stuck and turn, turn, turns around in your head. These same seasons in your life can turn into different seasons in your life story writing journey.
Identifying seasons in your life helps you find your mental and emotional location so you can move forward with your writing (and your life). Identifying them in your writing journey is one way to take your mental and emotional locations and turn them into powerful pieces of your life story that can eventually help others shift their own thinking and find a new season in their lives. The nine different seasons of your writing journey bring with them unique mindsets and characteristics, each of which opens up exciting new possibilities.
The 9 Steps In Your Writing Journey
Not sure where you are in your life story journey? Read through these different options, and see which is the best way to end this sentence. “Right now, I’m…”
1. Wondering if I Have a Life Story
If you’re here, I want you to understand something. Once I learned this, it changed the course of my life, and I believe that it will for you, too. Stop wondering. Yes, you have a life story.
Everyone, regardless of age, location, background, education, or any of the other hundreds of variables in our lives, has a life story. Everything you’ve gone through in your life, from childhood hurts and hopes to your family situation, career choice, and physical ability, has led you to this point — the moment when everything starts to come together and points you toward a new mindset.
In fact, you may have a story “twin” out there. Well, not really twin…everyone’s story is unique. But here’s a cool way to find out which memoirs are most like your own life story (link to quiz)
2. Identifying My Life Experience
At this point, you know that you have a life story. You’re not sure, though, which component is the most important part. For example, remembering the scent of your elementary-school cafeteria might be a powerful piece of nostalgia, but does it matter in the long run?
When you’re identifying your life experience, keep these points in mind:
- Each incident of your life played a part in shaping who you are.
- The majority of these situations weren’t direct or even obvious contributors to your life story, but the subtle, indirect components that happened every day will be the ones that resurface when you least expect them.
- Keeping an open mind is vital if you truly want to learn and grow as you try to pinpoint your life experiences.
3. Telling Others About My Life Story
Have you ever found yourself telling someone a story about your childhood? If so, have you noticed that you regularly share that incident? This is a key indicator that you’re further along in the life story journey than you may have anticipated.
If you’re telling others about your life, it’s because it adds to their lives. Perhaps you’re telling them the story to sympathize with them. You might be sharing your experience to show them what you did, because that will help them take a similar step in their own lives. Maybe it’s just an entertaining, humorous moment. Regardless of the reason that sparked you to open up, this moment of sharing indicates that you not only have a story to tell, but that you’ve found the story and are ready to take your life story to the next level.
4. Thinking About Jotting Down My Stories
There comes a point in everyone’s life when they start to realize that when they pass away, their stories and life experiences will go with them. Unfortunately, many individuals come to that realization far too late — and others state some of these common excuses as reasons why they can’t write down their stories.
- “I don’t have the time.”
- “No one will care.”
- “I don’t know how to write.”
If you’ve ever said those, I’m here to tell you that each of those roadblocks needs to be torn down, as they’re just keeping your life story from reaching the people who truly need to hear it. You’ve probably also heard people tell you that you should tell your stories, or have had others share your story with their own friends. The experiences in your life are making a difference — don’t wait any longer to take the next step if you’re already thinking about jotting down your life stories.
5. Starting a Journal for My Stories
Fantastic! This is the turning point from living your life story to writing your life story. Keeping a journal brings with it a variety of different health benefits, which can include understanding yourself better and reducing your stress. Journaling can take many different appearances. It might be a daily diary, where you document the incidents of the day and your responses and thoughts about them. It might be a weekly recap that allows you to reflect on the overarching theme of your week. Some might keep a prayer journal, where they list their prayer requests and write down the answers to their prayers.
The best way to journal your stories is the way that works best for you. If you thrive with schedules and routines, start by keeping a notebook by the side of your bed and committing to writing a page about your day each night. If you are more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, consider carrying a notebook with you. You can jot down thoughts, lists, and revelations that will give you greater understanding of yourself.
6. Looking for Something a Little More In-Depth
Keeping a journal is a great way to start the actual physical process of writing your life story, but many get stuck in that fifth season of telling their life stories. Some find that alone satisfies their needs, and that’s fine. However, if you’re wondering where you fall in your life storytelling journey, I can tell you right now that you’re not the type to find fulfillment in writing your life story in a journal.
If you’re ready to take your journaling and add depth and meaning, you’re ready to try freewriting. Freewriting means setting a timer for 10 or 20 minutes (or even more) and writing the thoughts that come to you without regard to grammar, structure, or writing style. You don’t even take your pencil from the paper. Keep it moving until the timer goes off. This deliberate writing exercise serves a few different purposes in helping you along the life storytelling journey.
- Freewriting allows you to reflect on why you are how you are. It gives your memories an outlet, allowing you to get to the root of your feelings and responses to different situations in your life.
- Freewriting is an excellent way to not only improve your writing ability, but to increase your confidence in your writing ability.
- Freewriting is one of the best ways to really understand what you’re feeling, especially when it comes to anger, sadness, and pain.
We’ve come up with a handy dandy guide for you here, and it’s free. Breakthrough: Complete Guide to Freewriting Your Life.
7. Surrounded by Pages of Notes — and Not Sure Where to Go
Whether you’ve been practicing freewriting or have followed another plan to start writing your life story, you’ll eventually find yourself in a season of life storytelling that leaves you with plenty of half-written stories on looseleaf paper or spread among various notebooks, computer files, and notes that seem to be multiplying.
You’re well on your way to telling your life story. You have the bones all set. In this season, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of pages, but, in all honesty, you’re really only a few steps away from taking those papers and turning them into a polished, piece that will make your life story shine.
8. Putting My Story Together
This step is slightly more technical, but it will also be one of the easiest mentally and emotionally. This is the step where you organize the stories that you’ve already written about your life. Now, you add in conventional grammar tools, developing a story arc, plot, and building characters, and fill in the spaces between each written story. You enter the story with notes, ideas, and pages, edit the writing, and end up with a manuscript that will change your life and the lives of others. You might find this Periodic Table of Life Storytelling Elements helpful.
9. Ready to Share My Stories
Whether you choose to publish your story in a magazine, create a printed piece, or start a blog that will put your story in front of the World Wide Web of people, the options are endless — and you’ve got a polished piece that you can now use to re-shape your future.
Now that you’ve identified the season of your life story writing journey, you really only have three steps to move yourself further.
1. Ask Yourself If You’re Ready to Take the Next Step
You can’t get to the next step if you’re not ready to make the change. Identify the hesitation you’re feeling that’s keeping you from moving ahead and take some time to address the barriers to success. You — and only you — can tell your story. Don’t deprive the world of the opportunity they have to learn and grow from your unique experiences.
2. Encourage and Reassure Yourself With Professional Guidance
Not sure where to go next? Let me help. I’ve been there — in that space where each instance in my life pointed toward a greater but unknown future. I discovered that the purpose of my life story was to help you tell your life story. We’ve got lots of resources to help you in your adventure here (link to courses page here)
3. Take Action
Don’t wait any longer! Every day spent wondering if you should do something about your story is a day taking you further from discovering the meaning of your life. Today, I challenge you to do one thing, take one leap of faith, and move yourself closer to the next season of your life storytelling journey.