Creative Ways To Write A Life Story
There are so many and creative ways to write a life story, whether it's your own or for somebody else. I like to use the term life story to encompass all the different ways we can tell our true-life stories. Think of it as an umbrella term which includes biography, autobiography, personal essays, memoir or family stories.
What is the difference between an autobiography and a memoir?
Autobiography is a chronological account of your life where you include all or most of your life events.
A memoir is different in that it usually focuses on one aspect of your life which you explore in more detail. It’s also about the reflection or the hindsight you bring to the story about that theme or aspect.
Examples of autobiographies and a memoirs
Biographies and autobiographies are usually written about people who are famous (or infamous) and can include political figures, public figures or celebrities, but you don’t have to be famous to write your autobiography.
Romulus, My Father, written by Raimond Gaita, is a beautiful example of an autobiography. It's the story of a migrant family coming to Australia in the 1950s, but the exploration of the characters, the social commentary about a time in Australia's history and the themes of family and belonging, makes it interesting and universal to a wider audience.
This book is also very short, so you don't need to write an "epic" book which includes every little detail but rather what's important and how can it be said in your authentic voice.
What I love about writing a memoir is that you could write several memoirs because you can focus on one topic or theme at a time. For example, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love was about her journey to find herself after her divorce. It didn’t go into great length about her childhood, marriage, or career.
The focus was on eating her way through Italy, working on her spirituality in India, and ultimately finding love in Bali. She then wrote another memoir, Committed, about her marriage. So, if you love writing a memoir you could write about any aspects that interest you and relate them to your life.
My Wobbly Woman Memoirs 1 - Looking for Love
Sometimes it's hard to put your story into a box. My Wobbly Woman Memoirs is really an autobiography because I take readers on a journey from childhood to adulthood.
However, the theme of the book was my quest for love, so that is what I've focused on. I started with a defining moment when my husband and I separated and then went into the backstory.
I was going to have each chapter represent the man who influenced or shaped my decisions, but that evolved as well.
Writing is a process, and your ideas may change. So, that's the reason I gave my book the title Wobbly Woman Memoirs - Looking for Love because each chapter is really a memoir (focusing on different themes of that time in my life) but the overall theme is looking for love.
You may ask - “Who would want to read my story?”
Many people say to me, "Who would want to read my story, anyway?" You may not think your story is interesting or exceptional. You may think, "it's been told before", but the truth is everyone has a story and it’s the way you tell it (in your voice, in your authentic way) that makes it special.
Australians love life stories. For a small population, we sell more memoirs than in other countries. You just have to see the number of Reality TV shows to see how people love real-life stories (and how voyeuristic we are).
Themes may be the same, but no two life stories are identical. What I’ve found is that often life is more surprising or shocking than what anyone could make up!
"A MEMOIR SHOULD BE LIKE ANY OTHER STORY WHICH TAKES THE READER ON A JOURNEY." (Leeza Baric)
Forms or Structure of Life Stories
These are exciting times to be writing a book because the possibilities are endless. You can write a book of text, you can include pictures, with ebooks you can provide links and make an interactive book. Here are some examples of how you could present your life story:
The Creative Ways of Autobiographies
Autobiographies are often written by famous people in culture or celebrities. (Although celebrities usually have ghostwriters write their stories).
Becoming - Michelle Obama
Betty White - If You Ask Me
The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying - Bronnie Ware
Educated - Tara Westover
Making the Breast of It - Robin Storey
Falafels and Bedouins - Noor De Olinad
Wobbly Woman Rediscovering Passion & Purpose - Leeza Baric
How to Make Gravy - Paul Kelly
What are your Reasons for Writing a Life Story?
The form or how you present your life story is dictated by your WHY. What would it mean to you to write your life story?What would it mean to write your life story?
Examples of Why People Want to Write Their Life Story
What is important is knowing WHY you want to write your book and if it’s a memoir–what is the focus or the theme of your book? This will help you stay on track as you write it and know what to leave in and to edit out.
The topic or theme of your book will affect the way you write it and present it.
My WHY has been to understand my family’s story, to understand where I came from and who I am–so it’s all about the quest for the truth, a search for answers and ultimately to let the past go. What was supposed to be a biography of my father has become my story/memoir and our family story.
So another tip is to be open to the process of writing, what comes up for you and what can change throughout the process.
Action Steps on How to Start Writing a Story about Your Life
These 4 steps are very important and when you become clear around these–your writing process will be so much easier.
Creative Ways to Write a Life Story Conclusion
Creativity is a limitless entity. The only limitation, is you.
I’d love to know what your story idea is and how you think you can present it.
Do you have another different way that you could present it?
Please leave a comment below and let me know how you go in my Virtual Writers' Group.
If you like this blog and found it helpful, please share it with your friends.
Thanks for reading and all the best.
Need some guidance for writing your book?
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