Sharing your personal story

Most often when people hear that LifeLines is in the business of “helping you share your story,” their first thought is about the most traditional means of sharing a story—writing a book. While this is not the only way to share a story (for example, see “Sharing your business story“), it is an important one. I’ve worked with memoirists and autobiographers who have loved being able to capture their memories, experiences, photographs, and life lessons in tangible, printed pages they can give to their children and grandchildren.

4 reasons for sharing your personal story in a book

  1. The process of sorting through old documents and photographs can be personally meaningful.
  2. The process of writing helps clarify values—since you can’t include everything in a book (though some people try), you have to make choices, and those choices reveal what’s most important to you.
  3. Having an intended audience (usually your children) helps define the work.
  4. The completed volume serves as a historical reference for your family—the research has been done, the questions have been answered, the photos have been captioned, the blanks have been filled in, and everything is presented in a logical, attractive format.

3 samples of different types of books

  1. Memoir about a specific experience—Cancer Freedom
  2. Continuously revised memoir—Archer’s Arrows and Significant Grandfathers
  3. Autobiography—The Geertsema Chronicles

2 other ways of sharing your personal story

  1. Blogging. Even if you know you want to write a “real” book some day, blogging is a great place to start. You can get in the practice of writing every day, and you can choose to participate in the blogging community, where you’ll find support, encouragement, helpful criticism, and new ideas. Blogging can be as private as a personal diary or as public as a Facebook page—it’s up to you. If you need help setting up a WordPress blog, let me know, and we can work something out. That’s what John Klompmaker and Ann Schenkel did, and they are avid bloggers now! Both their blogs are a nice mix of personal story and business story.
  2. Planning your Memorial Folder. I have had several chances to work with Matthysse Kuiper DeGraaf Funeral Directors to create special keepsakes for families who want more than the standard-issue funeral bulletin for their loved one. It is truly an honor to serve families in this way, and perhaps it’s natural to wonder what stories your own family will be left with after you’re gone. The time to start planning for that is now, while your life story is still being written! As I’ve said before, this doesn’t have to be a morbid project. In fact, the more you talk about your life stories now, and the more you plan how you want to be remembered, the more prepared and less fearful you become.

1 heartfelt referral

In an online discussion with a LinkedIn Group I’m part of, I met a woman named Lettice Stuart. We discovered that we both offer similar services to people who want to document and share their personal stories. Lettice, however, offers a more customized final product—rather than creating files that can be uploaded to a printer and printed (or revised) as needed, she works with a graphic designer, printer and book binder to produce a defined number of custom-designed books. You can find out more about the process and the product at Lettice’s website, www.portraitsinwords.com.

Do you have a personal story you want to share with the world, or with your family? Which of these story-sharing options sounds most appealing to you? What one step will you take today to turn this dream into reality?

2 thoughts on “Sharing your personal story”

  1. Three cheers for you, Melanie! I have so appreciated your help with my blog. Blogging was a whole new world for me and you gave me the encouragement and information I needed to keep taking steps forward. I even worked on my “about” page after you told me where to find it! If and when I’m ready for the family history “book,” you will be the one I call on. Also, I love the new business cards you did for me. Thanks for the help!

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