Do you remember that 1960s song “What the World Needs Now Is Love?” Written by Hal David, that song was performed live by more than 100 artists, with one of those melodies that tend to go round and round in your mind. I like the question “what the world needs now” so much that I frequently guide my students in responding to it during our “Writing Your Life Story” classes. If you’re writing your memoir or autobiography, try it for yourself right now.
Write down in your journal or on your computer screen the words “What the world needs now is…” and spend 10 minutes writing whatever comes to mind next. Naturally that song will pop up in your radar, and if you want to incorporate some of the message from those lyrics because it fits for you, by all means do so. You may find something personally meaningful to explore about how and why the world, and everyone it, does indeed need more love. At the same time, I encourage you to circle around to your own answer or answers to that question, no matter how different or unusual they may sound to you. After all, this is YOUR life story and those family, friends, and others who will read it really want to know what you think and feel about life around you and how it can be enhanced.
In my role as memoir and autobiography ghostwriter, I often find that my clients have not given much consideration to passing along these kinds of opinions and desires. They are busy trying to recall all the memorable and engaging stories they want to include, and they’re often wrapped up with remembering who did what when. When I suggest that they also spend a few minutes speaking to readers about their wishes for their loved ones, and a greater circle beyond them, they are initially surprised. They may briefly hesitate, not wanting to sound too “full of themselves” or to pontificate.
Then they sink into the question and recognize that they absolutely do have values, hopes, ideas, advice, and opinions that they would like to share. And that’s when the heartfelt expressions come pouring out. Their answers to “what the world needs now” are not only lively and timely, they also come wrapped in surprises for those who thought they knew the subject of this memoir or autobiography but didn’t know this side of that person they care about. They also may be touched by the expression as they find it hits home for them and what they need, or what they wish for others.
It doesn’t matter how long you have lived, or where your life has taken you. You’ve had experiences. You’ve seen the world in its beauty and in its struggles. You’ve got something to say in response to this question, and your readers want to hear it because they want to connect with you, to know you better, to hold a bigger picture of who you are. It’s another opportunity for you as the writer of your life story to inform, educate, inspire, entertain, or just reach us by what you share in your memoir or autobiography. Speaking to what the world needs now is a dynamic way for you to share your values and beliefs, your lessons learned, your insights into what you see around you.
So keep writing in response to that spark “what the world needs now…” Follow the trail wherever it may lead. After offering your ideas or opinions, you may find yourself launching into a story that illustrates your point. Tell us that story. Oh, and if you are tempted to plug your words into the melody of that popular song, or if you find yourself creating a new melody of your own, feel free to start singing!
– Memoir and autobiography ghostwriter Kevin Quirk, author of Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It, has been helping ordinary people tell the most meaningful stories of their lives for more than 15 years.