How To Write Your Own Life Story

12/09/2015 8:38 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Many of us reach a time in our lives when we think about writing down our life story -- our memoir.

Whether it's something that you simply want to leave for your children or grandchildren to read, or whether you want to have it published, the difficulty most people face is knowing how to actually do it.

Author Michelle Dicinoski has created a workbook, Telling Tiny Stories, which makes it very simple for people to record their stories.

The book provides a series of memory prompts with a focus on moments and people, and on sensory details such as smell, sound, and touch. In responding to the prompts, the reader starts to tell tiny stories of their life.

“I think people write memoirs to preserve and understand certain parts of their lives. When I wrote my memoir, Ghost Wife, I wanted to record stories that might otherwise be forgotten, and to examine some relationships that I struggled with,” Dicinoski said.

“Through writing, I found that I not only understood myself better, but I understood the perspectives of other people in my life better, too. I think that’s why we all might want to write life stories: to record, and to understand.”

Writing tutors are being inundated with students, eager for help and motivation to write their life story.

Author and writing tutor Alison Singh Gee told Huffington Post Australia that writing about your life story is about making sense of your life and connecting your story to other people.

But, first, Singh Gee said they key was to overcome your fear.

“There’s the fear of not remembering correctly, fear of angering those you recall in your memoir, fear of being criticised," Gee said.

"I struggled with all these anxieties when I was writing my memoir, Where The Peacock Sings. I truly lost sleep about putting my story out there and worried my friends would no longer accept me if they knew the truth about how I grew up.”

“But what I discovered is that after my book was published, people seemed to like me even more. They admired me for being so courageous.”

Alison Singh Gee’s tips:

Do not worry about anything making sense or unfolding in a neat way. Write from what I call MWECS -- Moments When Everything Change. These are the moments in your life when you cross a line of consciousness because something has happened to you. Or you’ve done something. Or you cross a line of consciousness and feel as though you can no longer return to a place of not knowing.

Brainstorm between 10 and 20 MWECS and then write each one out in full, surround-sound scenes, with action, dialogue and sensory description. Then write at least ten of these and put them away for a while. Then, set aside one afternoon to read all of them in one go, and see what themes and ideas emerge.

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