There’s an old African saying that when a person dies it’s as if an entire library burned to the ground. I actually think about that a lot when I encourage people to tell their stories and the stories of their loved ones. Nobody thinks his or her story is all that important or special–but if you don’t take the time to tell it, you’re lost to the world within a couple of generations. Your “library” of knowledge, experience, love, and lessons has essentially burned to the ground.
Resources for Writing a Life Story
Sometimes when we talk about recording a life, writing a story, I think it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or think that you can’t write a life story if you’re not “a writer.” It’s just not true. If you need help kicking that idea out of your head, jump back to Mythbusting: Memory-Keeping Myth #4 to find out why “I can’t write” is a myth–and learn two ways to overcome it.
Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. ~Ray Bradbury
These Interview Questions to Help You Write a Life Story I collected have quite a few questions (from three sources) so you can pick and choose the questions you like.
Over the past several months, I’ve been enjoying articles by Rhonda Lauritzen and Rachel Trotter about life stories and family stories at their blog at evalogue.life. Late last year, they published My Life Story: Thoughtful questions to tell your story or interview someone you love. It’s a lovely little booklet with about 70 or 80 thought-provoking questions to help you write your story or the story of a loved one. Rhonda asked me to review it for amazon.com (and as thanks sent me this little printed copy shown here, along with a nice thank you note, shown behind). The My Life Story booklet is available on Kindle for a few dollars, or you can get a physical copy for a few more, both here (on amazon.com).
You can also find Story Maps (PDF documents) from Heritage Makers, including:
Products to Publish Your Story
As promised, I’ll share with you my favorite products for publishing your story. I mean, just writing it down somewhere is great! But if you’d like to preserve it in a sturdier way, or if you’d like to make several copies, publishing it in a book is ideal.
I love the possibilities and the quality you get with Heritage Makers books–especially because you can add full-color photos. The books can really become unique treasures if you want to add digital art, background pages, etc. I made my mom’s life storybook this way after she passed, and it is an absolute gem. Heirloom Assurance is another big reason I use and recommend Heritage Makers books, and they come in lots of sizes and binding styles. You can get started using Heritage Makers at this link.
I have a little “in” with a new digital photo printing company called Snap2Finish, so I happen to know that in coming months they are going to be offering the ability to print books from PDFs! I’ll keep you posted!
In the meantime, if you don’t have photos to include in your life storybook (although I honestly hope you do because they really bring a life story to life, so to speak), another of my favorite story products are books from BYU Print & Mail. My sister used them to publish a couple of books (a family history and a novel) that didn’t have photos, and we were very happy with the result. She had one printed with a soft cover, another with a hard cover. They were both really nice!
Whose life story needs to be told first? A parent’s? A grandparent’s? Your own? Start with who lives in your memory. The hard truth is: we never really know how much time we have with those we love. Make sure their stories are preserved and not lost. This is a gift like no other.
- Amazon.com. (2018) Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Life-Story-Thoughtful-questions-interview-ebook/dp/B075XFSPW2
- Brigham Young University Print & Mail. (2018). Retrieved from https://printandmail.byu.edu/home/content.php?page=print/familyhistory§ion=print/print
- Evalogue.Life. (2018). Retrieved from http://evalogue.life/
- Heritage Makers. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.heritagemakers.com/jenniferwise
- Heritage Makers. Baby Story. Retrieved from http://studio.heritagemakers.com/pdf/storymap_baby.pdf
- Heritage Makers. Grandparent Story. Retrieved from http://studio.heritagemakers.com/pdf/cornerstone_grandparent_storymap.pdf
- Heritage Makers. Life Story. Retrieved from http://studio.heritagemakers.com/pdf/storymap_life.pdf
- Heritage Makers. Love Story. Retrieved from http://studio.heritagemakers.com/pdf/storymap_love.pdf
- Heritage Makers. Parent Story. Retrieved from http://studio.heritagemakers.com/pdf/cornerstone_parent_storymap.pdf
- Wise, Jennifer. (2016). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2016/04/who-lives-in-your-memory.html
- Wise, Jennifer. (2016). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2016/12/truly-best-gift-ever.html
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Evolve. Retrieved from https://www.livegrowgive.org/know-thyself-story/
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Evolve. Retrieved from https://www.livegrowgive.org/mythbusting-memory-keeping-myth-4/
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-best-way-to-store-your-digital.html
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2017/08/interview-questions-to-help-write-life.html
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2017/08/snap2finish-simple-photo-publishing.html
- Wise, Jennifer. (2018). Life Tales Books & Personal Publishing. Retrieved from http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/p/how-to-get-started.html