Life Story Writing

   Our lives are filled with extraordinarily ordinary moments.  Our souls are illuminated by them.  Sharing them around the hearths of our hearts, we become tellers of sacred tales, artists of our lives.   

                                             –Dr. Susan Wittig Albert, Writing from Life


It’s a Gift

  QUESTION:  What is the most precious gift you can give to your children? ANSWER:  The stories about your family and your life.

 Whether you decide to write them in a notebook or computer or record them on video or tape recorder, it makes no difference.  The important thing is that you preserve these stories for future generations. 

 Future readers will wonder as they peruse the stories how you ever lived without a TV, computer, or microwave (or what else they may be using in the future?).  But the story of your life, the struggles, the joys, the accomplishments, will be what they understand.  Your account will be a guide to help them through their own lives.

Decide to Do It Now

  Don’t put it off anymore.  Begin today.  Pick one story out of all the family stories and write it down.  Perhaps you remember a funny experience when you were in school.  How about that disastrous Christmas dinner you prepared for your in-laws?  What was your favorite toy when you were growing up and why?  Is there a family recipe that has been passed down from one generation to the next?  Share it and tell about the Grandma or Aunt or the person who used to prepare it for you.See?  Just pick out one story your family always tell at get-togethers and develop it.  Scribble it down quickly without regard to your Sixth Grade teacher who would definitely mark it up with her red pen. You get the basics of the story (what I call the bones) down on paper and then you can always go back and flesh out the details.  Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation until you have the story down.  Then you can revise and edit or have some fresh eyes read the story to find errors.

Once you start and share your stories, the joy and warmth from family members will amaze you.  Have fun with it. 

Please Note: I am presenting How to Begin Writing Your Life Stories workshop Tuesday, February 1, 8, and 15, 2011 for the Hernando County Public Schools Continuing Education Program, Brooksville, FL.  Join us.

Call 352-797-7091 for information.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Hello Janet,
    I loved this post about writing life stories. My great great uncle did just that and in fact, he went even further by relaying all the stories he knew about the generations of our family before him. Not only are these stories fascinating to read, but they also give a real insight to his charecter and the traits that have passed down through our family. At the end of the piece he notes that the information/stories provided are quite useless, but he felt compelled to write them anyway. I am a writer and when I had my second children’s book published I borrowed several stories and countless charecters from my uncle’s life stories. Even if I hadn’t have done that, what he has captured for me and my children is priceless. I mean to continue the “story” so that maybe one day, my great great grandchildren will know of the generations that passed before them. I hope your workshop went well!


  2. Janet not only do I tell my life stories but I teach them to my Children. My two boys will be 10 & 15 this month. They both can out fish anyone I know, tey can cook, and they have respect for their mother, elders, neighbors, teachers and their friends. All of these values came from story telling. Please feel free to re-post this testamonial on your blog.
    Tom Campbell


    • Thanks, Tom. I don’t think people realize how telling life stories serve as wonderful guides for children in how their ancestors made it through life. Sounds like you are instilling values with your life stories. Keep on telling and teaching!!


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