No one will tell your life stories but you. Start with one—and go beyond sharing it: Do something with it! We've come up with 5 unique—and easy!—ideas for preserving one chapter of your life story.
Who knows, one chapter might turn into two...
Taking the first step on the road to preserving your memories
I previously posed the question, “Who will tell your life story?” How would you answer that question? If your answer wasn’t a resounding “me!” then, well, you answered wrong.
No one will tell your stories but you. And you must: Tell them, and preserve them.
In that post I recommend an easy 3-step plan for how to take the first steps on the road to preserving your stories. Step No. 2 involves sharing one story—whether around the dinner table with your family or over the phone with your grandkids, whether in writing or out loud, just tell one story. It might be one so often recounted it’s like an old friend, or it might be a distant memory you haven’t pulled out in decades.
Here’s the rub, though: Once you fulfill step No. 2, I implore you to move on to step No. 3: Do something with it.
5 ideas for what to do with your little life story
Remember, this isn’t your whole life story. There’s no need to publish it to Amazon or strive to write a bestselling memoir. You focused on telling one engaging story and telling it well. Now let’s do something to ensure your story lives on.
For what good is a story if you don’t breathe life into it, if it isn’t shared?
Here are a few ideas for things to do with your little life story. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and we’d love to hear other creative ways you have found for keeping your memories alive; please share in the comments below!
1. Eat, drink, and be merry.
What is it about finger foods and wine and an informal gathering of loved ones that spark storytelling? It’s as good as being around a proverbial campfire! Invite an interesting mix of people to a dinner party (think a mix of ages, a mix of relatives and close friends, and a mix of those who may be familiar with your story and those who are not).
Get creative with the place settings—scan some old family photos related to your story for name cards, for example—or get really down and dirty and place cushions on the floor for a good old-fashioned buffet of food and stories.
The important thing is this: Don’t be shy about revealing your goal of story sharing. If being the center of attention makes you nervous, ask a loved one to help set the stage, or ask a few guests to come prepared to share their own stories, too.
2. Embrace technology.
Maybe it’s as simple as sending an email to your family: Type your story into the body of an email, and hit “send.”
Or: Begin a story circle with one post on Facebook. If you’ve got a vibrant community of friends on the social media site, share your whole story there (trust us, if it’s personal and from the heart, they WILL read the whole post!) and—most importantly—ask your friends to share related stories in the comments. When people begin sharing (about a loved one who passed away, for instance, or about an old #ThrowbackThursday photo) and then commenting on one another’s comments, that’s social media at its absolute best, in my opinion.
3. Start a new tradition.
Don’t stop at one story. Weave story sharing into the fabric of your life. Make it a habit. If you invite others to participate (whether as a regular audience to your stories or as memory keepers themselves), then that habit becomes a meaningful new tradition.
The more you can truly integrate your specific means of story preservation into your life, the deeper connections among family you will make, the more value you will derive from the process, and the more you will cement your legacy for the next generation.
4. Grab a pen.
When’s the last time you wrote more than your signature in longhand? If your story is short enough, pick up a pen and a beautiful piece of paper and transcribe your words in your own handwriting.
If it is one page, consider framing and hanging it. If it revolves around a food memory, why not have it memorialized on a lovely food-safe platter? If you’ve really got the writing bug, write it out in letter form, once for each of your children or grandchildren, and mail it to them.
5. Go pro.
If you would like to preserve your words and images together in an heirloom book or video, consider hiring a professional personal historian. We will
- guide the storytelling process
- elicit details & emotion
- add context
to present your memories in a most engaging way.
Here at Modern Heirloom Books, we specialize in bespoke coffee table books that tell your stories. Find out more.
If you prefer to preserve your story in a medium other than a book, I may be able to recommend videographers or audio specialists near you. Give us a call—we’re here to help you tell your stories beautifully!
One chapter at a time
You are living your story. Don’t let your memories fade, and don’t wait until it’s too late to begin recording them. Start with one story that you love to tell—you won’t regret it, and your family will thank you a million times over!
- How to Use Photographs as Prompts for Writing Life Stories
- Books to Help You Write Your Family’s Stories, Even If You Are Not a Writer
- Using Technology to Help You Share Your Family’s Stories
- How to Honor a Lost Loved One in a Tribute Memory Book