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Writing Your Life Story

Writing your life story is a great way to leave a written legacy for your children and future generations. You may also find that as you write about your past experiences, you will gain more insight into your worldviews, values and perceptions. It may prompt you to renew old friendships, to pursue genealogy or writing as a new hobby, or to work on unresolved anger that you didn't realize you still had.

If you are unsure about how to write your life story, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Gather Your Memories

We all have events and people in our past that we forget about without prompting. So keep a notepad, post-it notes or notecards handy then go through photo albums, yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings and awards. Call up your siblings, parents and old friends to reminisce with you. They may remember details you don't recall or may help you think about other experiences. As you are making your notes and brainstorming ideas, try to use dates as often as possible so you can arrange them in chronological order when you begin writing.

Create an Outline

Once you have brainstormed the memories you want to write about, begin to organize your thoughts. Create a basic outline of the significant events in your life. At this point, don't focus on writing specifics -- simply try to determine the overall structure of your story. Be sure to keep your note-taking system handy and jot down additional details as you remember them.

Focus on Writing

Most of us can't take a sabbatical from life to write nonstop for days at a time. So determine what is a realistic amount of time for you each week. Create a schedule that works best for you, whether it is a half hour on Tuesday and Thursday evenings or for an hour on Saturday mornings. Then stick to your schedule. You may not feel particularly inspired to write, but you can always edit your work later. In the early stages, simply focus on getting all of your memories and thoughts written out. And really try to give a full picture of the highs and lows of your life. Remember, your experiences -- both positive and negative -- helped to make you who you are today.

Finish the Project

If you are tempted to leave projects unfinished, make a commitment to yourself to finish this one. Enlist the help of your husband or a friend to keep you on track. Remember that this project will not just benefit yourself, but your family as well. And your story is not completely over -- designate January of each year to give your writings an update of each year's events. You may even find that keeping a daily or weekly journal will help you remember more details about your life

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