Monday, January 7, 2008


Have you ever noticed, especially at family gatherings, how much fascinating information - good and bad - we can discover about our ancestor’s? But to come across an actual autobiography by one of these characters would be pure gold.

With this in mind, why are we so reluctant to put down on paper our own story for future generations?

Perhaps we see is as a long term all-consuming operation bringing back bad school day memories with reams of homework. Forget it, it doesn’t have to be like that. Someone said ‘the past is a foreign country‘ and it is, in fact, instead of watching the soaps we could write an autobiography in an afternoon. It’s just like having a lively conversation with a best friend..

The conversation is a brainstorming technique and the constant companion is yourself of course, so this method is a great way to create an outline. If your plan is to one day write your full memoirs, but you don't have the time or the literary talents, this is still a great way to put your story down on paper in your own words.

Turn your efforts into a blog. Blogs can be for all sorts of things and for all sorts of reasons. Decide on a private, personal blog. This is your blog after all

Initially you will be the only one who’ll ever see it. But remember, the way a reporter would tell the story to his son at the dinner table is completely different from how he would phrase the same story in a newspaper article. Written communication does differ from oral communication and writing often helps the thought process. So, starting to write is no reason to begin using convoluted sentences as a roundabout way of saying the same things. Write intimately, and just for yourself. Relax and have fun with it.

Here's what you do:
Jot down your memories with dates (if you know them) in list form. Your birth, first day of school, wedding day etc. all the basic information of your life. See this as a first draft - leave enough space between the items so you can add more later as you think of them.

Beside each date or event write something - anything you know about that part of your life. Next to birth, for instance you might write: I was a large baby, weighing almost 9lbs or something like: Father always reminds me I was born in the middle of a storm! At this stage don't worry about the grammar or spelling - it doesn't even have to be a complete sentence - whether you add a single word or a mini essay, just write. Anything you know or remember becomes a prompt for expanding your finished work.

Information is great but also talk about how you felt - was the first day of school exhilarating or terrifying? Don't rack your brain, just jot down the things that come to mind. If this is as much as you care to do, don‘t panic!

If you want to do more, go back and expand on your thoughts, put them into full sentences and paragraphs if they're not already. If nothing comes to mind, move on. Keep going back to it and add things as they come to mind. If you don't force it, things you hold important, will come flowing out with pleasant ease.

In time, your afternoon autobiography could turn into a full volume of memoirs. Cautionary tale, always store your writings on a separate disc, making sure to update it with each new addition.