I want to write my life story, but where do I start?

It may seem easy to start writing about your life. After all, nobody knows your life, thoughts, feelings, and skeletons better than you do. And, where most people start is the beginning – or at least, the earliest moments they can remember. Sure, that information can be valuable to get down. But, ask yourself. “Why am I writing my story?” Likely the answer is that you want to pass on the interesting highlights in your life. You want to pass on what you’ve learned. Or, perhaps you want to tell people what was happening to you when an event happened.

What I suggest is sitting down to write out a few key experiences you’ve had and move on from there. Writing out an entire life story is daunting, scary and overwhelming. Yet, if you break down your life into key moments, you will not only enjoy writing your story, but you are more likely to keep going. Start with five experiences. For me, my list may look like this:

  1. My second-grade class as we watched the Challenger explode.
  2. Starting a new school in a new state halfway through 5th grade.
  3. The day I moved into my dorm at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as a freshman.
  4. Sitting alone on soccer bleachers in the middle of the night with a girl I had a crush on – and how nervous I was.
  5. Seeing the first plane strike the World Trade Center.

With each of these experiences, I have hours of writing at my disposal. Each of these moments triggers emotion and memories I may have forgotten over time. Each of these experiences is personal.

One tip is to keep a notebook or online document open so you can jot down other experiences you will inevitably remember while writing your first five.

Writing your memoirs and life experiences shouldn’t be a chore. Write about the things you remember best; the birth of a child, the night after you were married, the moment your first dog jumped up in your lap and licked your face.

In the end, if you want to go to the beginning, feel free. But, for now, start with those experiences most important to you.

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