Writing your own life story: Elaborate

In Part III of "Writing Your Own Life Story," take your autobiography outline from Part II one step further and elaborate on any topic of your choice. Pick a number. Reminisce. Write.

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  • This is the last segment in the “Writing Your Own Life Story" series. Part I touched on the who, what, where, when, why, and how of writing your personal history. You made an outline of your life in Part II that you will follow to fulfill this next sequence.

  • Look at any of the questions from the outline to reminisce and write about your life. Pick one number for each writing session.

  • For example, number one asks for your full name. Now is the time to elaborate on where your name comes from. Is it a family name? You could also include your nickname and how you got it.

  • Number two on the outline is about where you were born. Most people were born in a hospital, but maybe you were born at home. Who delivered you? Tell about it. Your grandchildren will be interested.

  • Location, location, location! What do you remember about the first house you lived in? What color was it? Did you have a backyard with a swing set, or a tree fort? Who were your cohorts in the neighborhood when you were young? Do you remember their names? Of course, you do. Use all five senses. What did the grass smell like in the summer when you were rolling down the hill with your friends? Did you lie on your back to look at clouds, or stars? Do you remember listening to crickets chirping? Did you live in an area where you could catch lightening bugs?

  • Number seven from your outline addresses your courtship with your spouse. Where did you meet? When did you know he/she was “the one?” Combine this with number nine and you can tell how many bridesmaids were part of your wedding. Where did you go for your honeymoon?

  • What clubs or organizations did you belong to as a child and youth? Here’s where you will tell about Boy/Girl Scout Camp, gymnastics class, student council, high school musicals, etc. You were there. You’re the only one who knows what happened.

  • Did you ever receive any awards? What are your talents? How did you acquire them? Did any of them lead to your occupation? Explain what you do in your job.

  • Where did you go to college? Tell about roommates, the campus, professors, classes, football games. Take your time and write these memories.

  • Did you serve in the military? How did you feel about serving your country? Did you travel overseas? What did you do there? How did this change your life?

  • If you’d like to stray from the 20 questions, feel free to delve into other realms:

    • Do you remember your grandparents? Tell about each of them.

    • Write some memories of each of your children. Remember the funny things they said and the cute things they did.

    • Describe your family heirlooms: knickknacks, jewelry, books, furniture, etc. How will anyone know how much they mean to you, or who gave them to you, if you don’t write it down?

    • Make lists: favorite foods, songs, toys, color, car, pet — and why.

    • Some people work well with writing prompts, such as, “My first memory of my grandfather was when ...” or “The day my first child was born I felt ...”

    • List your pets

    • Look at a photograph from your childhood. What's the first thing that pops into your mind?

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  • Caution: it’s important to take just an hour or so.You don’t want this to be a burden. An hour on Sundays should do it, but you be the judge.

  • If using a computer, print out each writing session on acid-free paper and keep in a 3-ring binder. Copy and paste digital photos into the pages, or make color copies of photographs to add to binder. Create a blog, or a website with your own domain.

  • Have fun writing your life story and don’t forget to share.

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Susan Knight is an award-winning journalist from southeastern Pennsylvania and happy Utah transplant. Contact her at: .

Website: http://www.susanknight.blogspot.com

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