Recently, a client came to me wanting to write a book, but openly acknowledging, “I don’t even know if I have a story.” Really, this is funny if you talk to most writers because one, everyone has a story and two, the ones who claim they don’t know if they have a story generally have the best stories!
It took only a 45-minute phone call to find out that, yeah, he had a lot to tell and better, a lot of good advice and experience to pass on.
So, what do we do next? We try to figure out a way to tell the story. For someone who has several significant events in their lifetime, it can be difficult to bond them together in a way that actually seems cohesive. The first thing to do, if you’re working with someone, is to start interviewing. Just get the client to talk. And if you are working on your memoirs by yourself the same thing applies – just start writing or talking into a recorder.
With every client, there is an aha! moment. And I’ll use my current client as an example.
My client is a successful business owner, but it took a lot of courage to get to where he is. However, he made a comment to me, “Jody, you know my life is kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Every time I needed something or someone, it just kind of happened to me as long as I kept moving forward. Dorothy needed some courage and she got a lion looking for courage who already had it. The same with a heart and a brain.” The next day, as I listened to our recorded interview, I had the aha! moment.
His life did indeed have specific similarities to the obstacles Dorothy faced on her way from Munchkinland to the Emerald City. So, by jotting down the obstacles Dorothy faced we were able to make those life-correlations which now give us an interesting real-life twist on a rags-to-riches story following the proverbial yellow brick road many young business owners face as they find success.
So, while you may think of your book as a simple chronological story of your life, sometimes a creative perspective can improve on how you tell it. It’s all about finding your yellow brick road.