So you want to start writing your life story, but you don’t know how and where to start? You figure if you could just get that first chapter or even the first page down, everything will just flow from there. Yet, somehow, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. Or you’ve gathered all your photos and other mementos, but you stumble trying to put your memories into words. Or you’ve put together a neat little outline for your memoir or autobiography, and that doesn’t really jump-start the process either.
What’s missing? Are you doing something wrong?
Not at all. All those steps can prove to be very helpful and effective in writing your life story. It’s just that you may have skipped over an initial step that I have found to really get any life story writer moving during my 20-plus years of ghostwriting autobiographies and teaching classes on Writing Your Life Story.
That first step is simply to sit down and write the answer to the question: Why do I want to write my life story at this time? What is happening in my life today that is driving me to capture my most meaningful stories in a memoir or autobiography? Who am I writing my life story for, and what do I hope they might gain from reading it? How might the act of writing my memoir or autobiography bring something important to my own life – maybe not by becoming rich and famous with a bestselling book but through the inner satisfaction of finally doing it, or knowing I have offered a gift to loved ones, or the self-discovery and healing that may emerge?
You’ve got your own reasons for writing your life story, or helping a loved one to write their memoir or autobiography. When you name that purpose, which you might even want to call your autobiography mission statement, it can serve as a guidepost in launching the process of writing your life story. Then you can place those words that describe your reason for writing your life story in a prominent place, where it may prove to an anchor in steering you all the way through from that first page to your final words.
- Kevin Quirk, memoir and autobiography ghostwriter