When I talk to people about documenting their stories, they like the idea of controlling their own narrative, but most aren’t sure where to start. Some think of a memoir as a chronological telling of an entire life, and they can’t imagine anyone would be interested in theirs. “Who’s going to read all that?” they want to know.
Still, most people want to be remembered. They also realize they shouldn’t expect others to preserve their stories for them. Relying on your family’s oral tradition to pass along important aspects of your life may not be a good plan. That’s why I suggest documenting one story at a time.
If you’re stumped about where to begin with your memoir, it might help you to know there are no rules dictating how it needs to be done. There’s plenty of advice, but your story is your story, and you should enjoy telling it. If you start with just one story, then tell another, you’ll soon assemble an anthology of your favorite reminiscences.
One thing I like about the anthology approach is how accessible it is for family members. They can read and share their favorite stories whenever they want. The other thing is, you can start anywhere, document as much as you want, and keep going as long as you have stories to tell.
So go ahead, tell one story at a time. Try a funny story, then an adventure, a love story, and maybe tell about a turning point in your life. A story can encompass a formative period in your life, or a single day. It’s your story, so let it be whatever you want it to be.