In this week's blog, we will look at different ways you can write your life story.
Check out my short 8-minute Writing Tips Tuesday video if you like visuals, or enjoy the blog below to discover new and creative ways you can write your autobiography or memoir. There are so many exciting ways that you can express your individuality and share your story.
This is a video I recorded previously, but it has great information, and tips & visuals.
If you're stuck and want some inspiration to spark your ideas, download my guide, 20 Ways to Unleash Your Creativity and Start Writing. Lots of information, pictures and prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
I like to use the term life story to encompass all the different ways we can tell our true-life stories. Think of it as an umbrella term which includes biography, autobiography, personal essays, memoir or family stories.
Autobiography is a chronological account of your life where you include all or most of your life events.
A memoir is different in that it usually focuses on one aspect of your life which you explore in more detail. It’s also about the reflection or the hindsight you bring to the story about that theme or aspect.
Biographies and autobiographies are usually written about people who are famous (or infamous) and can include political figures, public figures or celebrities, but you don’t have to be famous to write your autobiography. Romulus, My Father, written by Raimond Gaita is a beautiful example of an autobiography. It's the story of a migrant family coming to Australia in the 1950s but the exploration of the characters, the social commentary about a time in Australia's history and the themes of family and belonging, makes it interesting and universal to a wider audience. This book is also very short, so you don't need to write an "epic" book which includes every little detail but rather what's important and how can it be said in your authentic voice.
For example, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love was about her journey to find herself after her divorce. It didn’t go into great length about her childhood, marriage, or career. The focus was on eating her way through Italy, working on her spirituality in India and ultimately finding love in Bali. She then wrote another memoir, Committed, about her marriage. So, if you love writing memoir you could write about any aspects that interest you and relate them to your life.
Sometimes it's hard to put your story into a box. My Wobbly Woman Memoirs is really an autobiography because I take readers on a journey from childhood to adulthood. However, the theme of the book was my quest for love so that is what I've focused on. I started with a defining moment when my husband and I separated and then went into backstory. I was going to have each chapter represent the man who influenced or shaped my decisions, but that evolved as well.
Writing is a process and your ideas may change. So, that's the reason I gave my book the title Wobbly Woman Memoirs because each chapter is really a memoir (focusing on different themes of that time in my life) but the overall theme is looking for love.
Many people say to me, "Who would want to read my story, anyway?"
You may not think your story is interesting or exceptional. You may think, "it's been told before", but the truth is everyone has a story and it’s the way you tell it (in your voice, in your authentic way) that makes it special.
Australians love life stories. For a small population, we sell more memoirs than in other countries. You just have to see the number of Reality TV shows to see how people love real-life stories (and how voyeuristic we are).
Themes may be the same, but no two life stories are identical. What I’ve found is that often life is more surprising or shocking than what anyone could make up!
These are exciting times to be writing a book because the possibilities are endless. You can write a book of text, you can include pictures, with e-books you can provide links and make an interactive book. Here are some examples of how you could present your life story:
Autobiographies are often written by famous people in culture or celebrities. (Although celebrities usually have ghostwriters write their stories). Some examples include:
Here are some examples of why people want to write their life story:
What is important is knowing WHY you want to write your book and if it’s a memoir–what is the focus or the theme of your book? This will help you stay on track as you write it and know what to leave in and to edit out.
My WHY has been to understand my family’s story to understand where I came from and who I am–so it’s all about the quest for the truth, a search for answers and ultimately to let the past go. What was supposed to be a biography of my father has become my story/memoir and our family story.
So another tip is to be open to the process of writing, what comes up for you and what can change throughout the process.
These 4 steps are very important and when you become clear around these–your writing process will be so much easier.
I’d love to know what your story idea is and how you think you can present it. Do you have another different way that you could present it?
If you want more help, please book in a consultation and I can advise you on how to best write your life story.
If you like this blog and found it helpful, please share it with your friends.
Thanks for reading and all the best.