Small steps to telling your story

Is it possible the thought of “writing your memoirs” gives you pause because when the story ends, so do you?

Among personal historians, I often hear stories of clients who delay finishing the project to write a life story because they believed “once the book came out, that meant the life was truly over, which was why we didn’t get the book done when the narrator was alive.”

It’s called a “superstitious delay,” this desire to avoid sending a signal to oneself or the subject of the story that it’s OK to die or that they’re “finished” and expected to die.

The belief one can control pretty much anything is preposterous, of course, but a human being is imbued with this folly that the world revolves around him. As quoted from the world’s greatest piece of literature by many preachers before the Mayan apocalypse last month, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven.”

As a memoir writer myself, I am amused by this unfounded fear. I finished my book, and I’m still around. I intend to write a lot more books. While my intentions may not be fulfilled, I can only control my actions today.

If you’re thinking about organizing your photos or writing your life story, here are a few things you can do today to get you there:

  • Get all your printed photos in one place and start sorting. If it’s an overwhelming pile, sort for 30 minutes or an hour. Then do it again tomorrow.
  • Write one little story, be it a memory of your mom or the history behind why you love the Cubs (or whatever you love) so much. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even finished. But it’s a start.
  • Assemble in one place all the pictures and mementos of one important event (a birth, a wedding, a sports career, a hobby). Shop for a box or container that can be labeled so you can keep all these things together. Add a note about why they are important to you before storing it.
  • Set up an appointment with a photo organizer or personal historian. It doesn’t cost anything to ask questions.

2 comments on “Small steps to telling your story

  1. Michelle says:

    I plan to write the stories that I remember for my children. While my memories of my childhood are far from complete, I’d like to share some of the fond memories of my childhood with them. My life story will never be a memoir per se, but I’ll be just as happy to have a photo book of memories and stories to pass down!

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