Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Organizing your Life Story

One question I'm often asked is, "How can I organize my memoir or life story?" Assuming that you have written a series of journal entries, in no particular order, where do you go next? How do you put them together into a booklet, pamphlet, or self-published book? If, like me, you write about whatever experiences come to mind when they come to mind, your material may seem to be an amorphous mass. Here is some of the advice I give in my book, Seniorwriting.

Read through what you have written. Do you find a recurring pattern, themes or problems or triumphs that appear often in your journals? If a theme or a series of themes stands out, that may be a good way to organize your life story. Some possible examples are family, funny stories, illnesses, family tragedies, hobbies, awards, military service; there are many other possibilities.

Do you prefer a more chronological approach? You may want to gather your stories together under time periods such as childhood, youth or teen years, adulthood or working life, retirement, old age, etc. You might organize by years or decades, as well. Another approach would be to organize by major life events or milestones: birth, religious rites, graduations, marriage, children's births, losses, retirement, etc."

There are several books available that make writing your life story almost a fill-in-the-blanks project. Use one of them if you wish. However, it's your story, so my advice is to organize it and tell it in your own way.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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