If you’re reading this, you most likely feel a desire to write your personal history (or have a close family member that you wish would write theirs) but feel slightly overwhelmed. “Slightly” might also be the wrong word to use.
Where do you start, and what do you do? Those are big and important, yet vague questions. Many people start but quickly lose momentum because of the following five obstacles. The good news is, they can be overcome. Read on to find out how.
1. I don’t know what information to include.
Let’s start with this one because it spills over into many of the others, and we have a great free tool that will help beat this one. This obstacle seems tough, but in reality is easy… to answer, at least. The writing still has to be done, but let’s address these one at a time.
Legacy Tale has developed a free writing prompt packet with over 100 different topic suggestions to help you decide what to include. These are specific questions to answer as you write your history or interview a loved one. To get the packet, click this link or the big “Send me the writing prompts” button at the bottom of the page, enter your email address, and we’ll send you a PDF with all the questions.
2. I don’t have time.
This is big one, and it’s true, sort of. This obstacle is not exclusive to writing personal history; in fact, its near ubiquitousness plays a large role in making it such a big problem.
To beat this one, try shifting your mindset. Rather than saying, “I don’t have time,” a more accurate statement might be, “This is important to me, but not a priority right now.” It’s okay for something – even something you feel is important – to not be a priority right now. So take a minute, open your calendar and see when you can say, “This is important to me, right now.” Put it on your calendar for that time. It could be one or two months away, it might even be a year from now. It doesn’t matter. You now have a time set for when you will have time. When that time arrives, if you find yourself still saying, “it’s not a priority,” reschedule it. When it comes up a second time, if you still say, “not a priority,” then you need to evaluate if it should be on your to do list at all. This can be applied to anything, not just personal history. But as you evaluate, remember the lasting significance of your personal history. Its worth to your children and children’s children can’t be overstated. So prioritize accordingly.
3. I don’t know where to start.
There is an old saying, that you’ve probably heard.
Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”
A: “One bite at a time.”
Writing a personal history is a BIG elephant. Before you sit down and start writing, think about how you want the story to flow.
Choose a starting point:
The beginning. Start with early childhood and progress chronologically forward to present day. This sets up the history as a report: this happened, here is what I thought, felt and learned. Next something else happened, here is what I thought, felt and learned…
The present. Start with today and move backwards. This approach can be especially useful if you want to focus on imparting wisdom from your life and sharing lessons learned.
Organize thematically instead of chronologically. Record stories and events related to different themes, such as:
Reflections and Wisdom
Start from a place that is unique or defining to you as an individual. For example, maybe you are a HUGE fan of Shelby sports cars. Start with a trip you took to the Shelby factory in Las Vegas, NV.
The free writing prompts can help determine the best place to start, as well as the flow. As you review and answer the questions, you’ll get a good feel for how you envision your tale.
If you’re still not sure, feel free to contact us. We offer services that range from helping you write your history to doing it for you.
4. I’m not a good writer.
One of the key components of a personal history is that it is personal. Your voice is what’s important. Your posterity will feel your personality through your unique writing style. Your writing style – no matter how good or bad it may be – makes your story that much more authentic. If using a computer to write, any program you use will have spell and grammar checking functions. Use them, but remember, this is your story. Tell it your way.
If those options don’t satisfy you, remember Legacy Tale’s professional services can help you complete a tale you’ll be proud to share.
5. My life is not interesting.
Because you lived your life– you were there every day, whether it was good, bad or otherwise– it’s easy to think yours was a dull life. But remember that what may seem ordinary and even boring to you can be exciting and valuable to your posterity. Seeing what struggles you went through, how you dealt with them, your decisions and what you learned, provides priceless information to your loved ones. Legacy Tale Writing Prompts also trigger important memories and reflections to leave your legacy.
Writing a personal history is a big task, but your posterity will forever thank you for doing it. Don’t leave your tale untold. Above all, resolve to start.