Tips for Seniors Writing Their Life Stories

October 12, 2020
by TammyS | For Seniors

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Tips For Seniors Writing Their Life Stories

Whenever an elder dies, a library burns down.? Amadou Hampâté

Our memories are precious to us whether we are young, middle-age or elderly.  But not only are they dear to us, think of how much these memories could mean to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and others when we are no longer here.  We all live interesting lives that are full of events and to be able to pass those recollections on is a true gift.

The big question is – how do we get started writing our Life Stories or Memoirs, especially if we have no experience in writing?  Here are a few tips that may help:

  1. Schedule a time and place when you will write.  It can be once a week or every day, depending upon what works for you, but having a schedule can be the key to success.  Pick a place that is comfortable and quiet and allows you to freely think and remember.
  2. What time of day and how long you decide to write is important as well.  Personally, I tend to be fresher and more creative in the morning.  Also, you may only want to write for thirty minutes or so the first day.  Do not set a time limit of two to three hours if that is too long for you in the beginning.  As your transfer of thoughts to paper or keyboard improve, you may be surprised to realize how long you can write in one sitting.
  3. Determine how you will write.  If you have computer skills will it be on a laptop, personal computer, or tablet?  If you are not a fan of electronics you will want to buy yourself a lined notebook with ample pages.  Do you want to write in pencil or pen?  Again, that is strictly up to you.  Just know that your first writings will probably be a draft and it is much easier to go back and rewrite or correct if you are writing electronically.  However, life memories that are passed down in your own handwriting will hold much more meaning for your descendants.
  4. Next determine how you will decide upon your topics.  Do you want to write chronologically and write memories from childhood up to your current age?  Or do you prefer to just write about memories that pop into your head, regardless of when they occurred?  There is no right or wrong way to do it.  You can always compile them all chronologically later if you decide you want to.
  5. Decide upon a topic.  You do not want to just write down random thoughts that are from different times and are unrelated, as this will be confusing to the reader.  Pick something in your past that was important to you – perhaps a very personal event like a wedding or birth of a child.  Or it can be a very public event such as a Presidential election, a war, moon landing, civil rights, etc.  The event does not have to be a happy one – it may be something that was incredibly sad or traumatic for you.  Sometimes writing the truth about something in our past hurts but writing about it may provide you with some peace and resolution in the matter. 
  6. After you decide upon a topic, think about all the ways the event impacted you.  Describe everything you experienced – all the sounds, smells, tastes, people you shared the event with, etc.  How did it make you feel at the time?  How does it make you feel now?
  7. And last, but not least, I once read that you should write for yourself.  Do not worry about who will be reading it later, what they will think or if they will disagree with what you have written.  Your stories or memoirs are from your perspective alone and that is how you should be writing them, whether you write in the first, second or third person. 


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