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Writing Your Life Story – Suggestions And Techniques For Success

Once a luxury of the wealthy and famous, technology has, for the primary time in history, made it possible for anyone to capture, share and preserve their most precious life stories. With the arrival of computers, the Web, digital photography, video, and audio, anyone can capture the richness and texture of their life stories. These personal histories will probably be appreciated by family, friends, and future generations.

Today it is feasible to simply mix the art of traditional biography and memoir with powerful latest technologies right into a latest type of individual life storytelling: the personal life history. Personal life histories are satisfying to create. And, due to interactive multimedia possibilities inherent in computers and the net, a well-done personal life history might be wealthy and fully rounded in ways which are unattainable to realize in text-only memoir or biography. But most significantly, personal life histories preserve vital individual and family stories. And, when properly done, they’ll last for generations.

In this text you’ll discover how you can use time-honored life story writing techniques together with the newest technologies to create a story that’s uniquely “you.”

The Art of Traditional Life-Story Formats

For anyone eager about creating their very own autobiography, memoir or personal life history, it is necessary to grasp the distinctions between these types of telling one’s own life story. To over-generalize for a moment, an autobiography is more fact-based, while a memoir is more emotion-based.

Autobiographies are written by the topic, sometimes with the collaboration of one other author. Autobiographical works take many forms, from intimate writings made during life that usually are not necessarily intended for publication (including letters, diaries, journals, memoirs, and reminiscences) to the formal autobiography. Interestingly, the autobiography format doesn’t necessarily should be true. It might also be a literary fictional tale.

Memoirs are a form of private recollection that has grown enormously in popularity in recent times. Memoirs often concentrate on more subjective recollections resembling memories, feelings, and emotions and are generally written from the first-person viewpoint. The memoir is usually focused on capturing certain meaningful highlights or moments.

In his own Memoir, Palimpest, Gore Vidal writes that “a memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”

Memoirs often concentrate on a temporary time period or a series of connected events (an autobiography covers an extended time period). In a memoir, the author is often retrospective, and contemplating past events. Memoirs may incorporate the techniques of storytelling resembling setting, plot, conflict, character development, foreshadowing, flashback, irony or symbolism. And lastly, writing one’s memoir often has a therapeutic effect for the author.

Oral History Recordings

An oral history is a verbatim transcription of an interview, left within the narrator’s exact words. These are frequently left in a question-and-answer style and are a cheap strategy to preserve family stories. A recording system with a good-quality microphone and a quiet spot free from interruptions are all that is de facto needed to capture an oral history. It helps to have questions prepared prematurely of the interview.

Oral histories are frequently recorded using analog tape or digital recording equipment, but it is usually possible to record directly right into a pc. Oral histories are sometimes transcribed (typed or word processed) right into a document format. The conversational style is appealing for its easygoing informality.

Caveats: Recording formats and standards are continuously evolving and will develop into difficult or unattainable to play back if the equipment becomes obsolete. Taped recordings decay over time.

Video History Recordings

Do-it-Yourself: At the essential level, it is easy and fun to create a basic video history. Camcorders are relatively inexpensive, and plenty of computers today include basic editing software. Capturing a superb video history shares all the same prerequisites as an audio recording: a quiet spot, with questions prepared prematurely. Plus, you will have an uncluttered background, flattering lighting, and right clothing to enhance the standard of the top product. White shirts, pants or dresses, for instance don’t show up well on video. Likewise, busy patterns might be distracting. Solid light-colored neutrals or pastels are frequently protected.

Skilled videographers: A lot of skilled video firms focus on the creation of life story productions. Productions may range from a ten or 15 minute short to an hour or longer mini-movie, complete with titles, music, and other Hollywood-style effects. Naturally, you will pay more for an expert production than a homegrown effort.

When choosing an expert use all the standard smart-consumer suggestions. Ask for references. Ask to see samples of prior work. Get all costs, production timetables and commitments in writing. It’s delightful to have movies of a person or family. When well-executed they often have entertainment value and are great for special occasions.

Caveat: As with audio recordings, formats change over time, and media can degrade, even with proper storage methods

The Integration of Art and Technology: Web-Based Personal Life Histories

Just in the previous few years, the Web has emerged as a robust latest medium for creating and sharing life stories. On the net it is just not only possible, it’s enjoyable and simple to create a wealthy multimedia story with text, photos, audio and video. That is the brand new format of the personal life history.

Web-based personal life histories enjoy several benefits over paper-based publishing, audio, video, and even CD life stories. Specifically, Web-based publication is updateable-one can add latest information at any time. It is well shareable amongst friends or family. Probably the most advanced sites offer selections of privacy and security protection. The net can be multimedia, meaning you’ll be able to add text, photos, audio, and video. Photos, audio, video are never lost, damaged destroyed. An finally, many sites offer print-on-demand, allowing you to create quick books. The books could also be printed on your private home printer, or sent out to small-run publishers. For those who select the small-run option, make sure you specify archival quality paper.

Certainly one of the largest benefits of web publishing is the flexibility to construct community around similar interests, occupations, backgrounds or life events. For instance, a WWII veteran pilot who posts his story to the Web and makes it available to the general public could also be contacted by long-lost friends, other veterans, students, historians, museum personnel, or others eager about this pivotal chapter in American history.

Why Create Your Personal Life History?

Mark Twain once said: “There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is impossibility. Inside everyone, there may be a drama, a comedy, a tragedy.”

A private life history might be as short as just a few pages, or several volumes in length. Regardless of the length or medium, it requires thoughtfulness and sometimes quite a little bit of work to perform. However the work is worth it since it has the flexibility to influence generations ahead. Your personal life history may leave a legacy in your children and grandchildren. As with memoir, writing a private history means that you can examine and reflect in your life up to the current day. It allows you to add your story to the larger historical record of your loved ones, city, and country. And lastly, when you don’t do it, who will?

Start with a Timeline of Life Chapters

How does one start to inform the story of a life that will cover 60, 70, 80 years or more? Often it’s helpful to create a chronological timeline of major events in your life. It helps to jot down just a few notes around key phases in your life. In reality, you could already be considering of your life as a book, with separate, distinct chapters built around essential life episodes.

After all, not everyone’s life follows a similar chronological sequence, but listed below are just a few ideas for chapter headings in your book or story. uses the next “chapters” to prepare life stories:

o Your Beginnings

o In Your Neighborhood

o School Days

o Off to Work

o Romance and Marriage

o War and Peace

o Triumphs and Tragedies

o Words of Wisdom

o Humor

o Words of Gratitude

The chapter system could be very flexible. For instance, you haven’t got to begin your life story with the times of your birth and youth. Perhaps you had a captivating experience in the course of the war. As with a movie, you would possibly open your life story with that “scene,” then tell the story the way you got there.

Once you have an idea for the “flow,” of your story, listed below are some more specific guidelines to assist add color, texture, and authenticity:

  1. Just start writing! Do a mind dump. Get it out of your head and down on paper, the pc, the tape recorder, wherever. Don’t be concerned about the way it sounds. Just write. Resist the temptation to edit yourself; there will probably be time for editing later.
  2. Be yourself. Don’t be concerned in case your grammar or spelling is not perfect. Write it as you’d say it.
  3. Honesty is all the pieces. The most effective writing tells it prefer it happened.
  4. Include humor. Favorite jokes, stories, anecdotes
  5. Detail, detail, detail. What type of floor did the kitchen have? What color was the headband she wore if you first met?
  6. Go at a cushty pace. Don’t attempt to capture a complete lifetime in a single session of furious writing. Write, allow time to reflect, and return again to writing.
  7. Seek the advice of others. Relations and friends might be invaluable sources of facts and interpretation.
  8. Use photos to jog your memory. Tip: Set out photos in a timeline of your life, ranging from your very youngest days, and moving through current times. Write or record to your visual storyboard
  9. Search for themes in your life. Themes are broad ideas which are central to your life. Did you usually wish to be a pilot? A preacher? Own a restaurant? Be a farmer? Tell the story of the way you met your goal, or how the goal modified to something else totally unexpected.

Listed here are just just a few other thematic life story possibilities: a. The Spiritual quest b. The Confession c. The Travelogue d. The Portrait e. The Criticism f. Humor g. The Family history h. The Road to Recovery i. War Story j. Romance

One other Option: Hire a Skilled

Most of this text has been focused on creating the do-it-yourself personal life history. There may be, after all, the choice of working with an expert. The proper skilled author or videographer is a highly expert interviewer and has the right tools and equipment. And, consider it or not, it is typically easier for somebody to open up in front of a stranger slightly than in front of a member of the family.

There are various approaches to working with writers or videographers. Nonetheless, there are various similarities in common. The author/videographer often:

1) Meets with you to find out the scope and price of the project.

2) Normally sets up taped interview sessions. Depending in your objectives, these could also be an hour or two, or 10, 20 hours or more.

3) The recording is transcribed and edited along with your input and guidance

4) Once a final manuscript/movie is agreed upon, it could be sent out for printing or duplication.

5) For books, personal history professionals recommend archival bindings and acid-free paper for longevity

6) You receive the variety of books/movies agreed upon in your contract.

7) Be sure you discuss services, fees and end products prematurely, and get all agreements in writing.

Because of high technology, the art of capturing and preserving the stories from one’s own life is now open to more people and easier than ever before. A latest genre of private storytelling is emerging that attracts on the literary traditions of the autobiography and memoir, while adding audio, video, and web technology to create personal life histories. On the Web, these personal stories personal life histories are multimedia, collaborative, shareable, and immediately updateable.

Enjoy capturing your life story!

References and Further Reading

Web Sites:


The Association of Personal Historians is a 600+ member organization of skilled personal historians who create life stories in all formats: text, audio, video.

How-to Books:

There are various good books stuffed with different approaches and suggestions for writing a private life history. Listed here are just just a few:

Daniel, Lios, How one can Write Your Own Life Story

Rainer, Tristine, Your Life as Story Books

Roorbach, Bill, Writing Life Stories