A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a webinar about telling life stories – what they are, why they matter, how to tell them. People came to the proverbial table at many points along their journey, with various motivations for pursuing their life stories:
· I have almost 80 years of life experiences that I keep wanting to write down for my family. Time to get started!
· I want people close to me to know what I went through.
· I lived through times of segregation. It was ugly and I don’t want that time to ever come around again.
· Telling my story helps me to make sense of my own life and experiences.
· I kept journals for 26 years. I want to preserve them electronically.
· My amazing memory. I recall stories my grandmother shared with me when I was a child. I feel compelled to get them out there.
· My late dad wrote his own memoir as a grief exercise after Mom died.
The life stories that people are working on are as complex and varied as humanity itself. Our experiences span generations; they span history.
In the webinar, we addressed some common objections to why people either put off or never share the life stories inside of them:
- I’m not that interesting
- I don’t have a story to tell
- No one cares about my story
Many people think they are uninteresting, that they lack value, that they haven’t contributed anything all that meaningful to the world.
But as writers (or want-to-be writers), you and I know different. There is meaning in our stories, wisdom and failure, history and hope. In my work, as both writer and editor, I strive to bring out ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And extraordinary doesn’t have to be world-changing.
We tell stories for many reasons:
- To come to terms with something
- To better understand something or someone
- To preserve history
- To preserve memories (even if people’s memories of the same events differ)
- To document a family tradition
- To honor a place in time
- To satisfy a burning curiosity
- To teach a lesson
- To entertain
- To recount a journey
Do any of these resonate with you?
If so, I want to invite you to commit to getting your life story down on paper this summer. When I say “life story,” I am using the term broadly. For some, a life story might be a single event or a moment in time. For others, it might encompass a 90-year lifespan. For you, a life story might be three pages. For someone else, it might be 300. Whatever real-life story is in you, consider this your invitation to start getting it down.
Do you need to come to terms with something? Is there someone in your family who you wish you knew more about? Is there a family tradition that might go by the wayside if you don’t preserve it in writing?
At the end of the webinar, I asked the attendees what NEXT STEP they would take TODAY to move their story forward. Here are just a couple of responses:
- I will set a calendar date today to go to the park, sit on a hill and continue to list things chronologically and writing a flashback within that time frame.
- Set time with sister for interview. Write 100-word memory tied to story.
I know firsthand the challenges of staying motivated and on track when it comes to creative work. Writing can be a lonely job. It is also full of discoveries, and while that’s exciting, it can also create fear. That’s why I created two opportunities to receive extra support for bringing your life story from idea to completed draft – this summer. And whether you attended the webinar or are just now reading about it for the first time, I want to offer that support to you.
For a self-paced resource, check out the Life Story Workbook, a five-part downloadable PDF that guides you through every step of the writing process – from collecting notes and research to celebrating when you’ve reached various milestones throughout your project. The Life Story Workbook includes a bonus, 50 Questions for Life Story, which is an excellent tool for both writing prompts and interviews. The Life Story Workbook is available here, for $27.
If you want to go deeper, I invite you to join my first-ever Summer Story Accelerator, where we’ll work through each of the five steps in the workbook together with one-on-one coaching calls and group implementation sessions via Zoom. You’ll dive deep into:
REFLECTING – thinking about the who, what and why of your story, from a wide-angle view.
GATHERING – receiving advice and encouragement for where and how to gather your resources, including from places you may not have even considered.
PLANNING – laying out a plan for the actual writing itself and determining how you’ll track your progress
WRITING – seven weeks of getting the words, the thoughts, the stories down. (And don’t worry. I’ll check in with you during this time for a one-on-one coaching call.)
CELEBRATING – marking your milestones and celebrating like nobody’s watching when you make them! (Everyone in the program will toast to you when you reach those milestones! We’re cheering you on!)
To learn more about the Summer Story Accelerator or to enroll, visit https://www.katemeadows.com/summer-story-accelerator/.
Stories are an act of preservation and communication. We write to communicate. What do you have to say to the world?