Back to Back Issues Page
Your Life is Your Story, Issue #040 Ė A List of Memories
April 26, 2007

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

April 26, 2007 Issue #040 Ė A List of Memories

From Tom Gilbert Ė Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Juggling Projects
Featured Article: A List of Memories
Resources You Can Use: Turning Memories into Memoirs, The MemoryGrabber, Highlight Sites

Opening Remarks: Juggling Projects

I admit it. Iím guilty of committing to more than I can get to. I have lots of projects in various stages of completion. My life is busy and occasionally I am over-scheduled. Maybe Iím a chaos junky or I like the adrenaline rush. Maybe. But a part of me likes to have a number of "irons in the fire". Over the past three to four years Iíve enjoyed learning how to write an autobiography. I find the craft of life story writing fascinating. And Iíve met some really fascinating people.

It can be stressful to juggle projects, but stress can be channeled and dealt with.

I have discovered that a full life is better than a dull life. I have choices today and if I choose to do more than I can handle I get to accept the consequences and learn from it. Good planning is essential. So is being grateful, taking time to appreciate the really important things in life and living one day at a time.

Remember life is a gift that you have to appreciate in the present.

Thank you for the opportunity to present another ezine issue to you. Feel free to email me with questions and comments. I welcome the feedback.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what youíd like to see more of in this newsletter Ė simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. Ė Tom

Featured Article: A List of Memories

One of the most challenging aspects for anyone writing their life story is how to start and what information you need to get started. However, learning how to write an autobiography or life story is not difficult. You simply need to break it down into parts and that begins with a list of memories.

I was reminded of the importance of this recently. Iíve started reading Turning Memories into Memoirs by Denis Ledoux. He has revised and expanded this handbook for writing life stories and Iíd been contemplating purchasing a copy for some time. I finally did and so far Iíve discovered it to be a well written and thoughtful guide to memoir and lifestory writing.

One of the things Denis emphasizes in beginning a lifestory project is to create memory lists. He calls them "the backbone of writing". I couldnít agree more. Creating an extended list of memories gives you abundant material. You should write many, many items. Write short and descriptive phrases that mean enough to you when you review them. They donít need to be complete sentences. You are not writing about the memories; you are simply listing them for future reference. Itís fine if there are more memories listed than you will use. The idea is to get the ball rolling. Writing down a list of memories will inevitably result in you remembering more and more.

From your extended memory list (which can easily have hundreds of items) you will develop a core list of memories. These are the pivotal events and crucial relationships of your life. These core memories are the basis of your story. They have shaped you and are essential elements of your life. I think of things like meeting my wife, our marriage, the birth of our children, the most important career choices, my spiritual awakening, the books, movies and concerts that have moved me the most, and the death of my mother as a few of my core memories. You have a number of such memories, too.

Ledoux suggests in his book that you limit your core memories to ten, although he admits thatís an arbitrary number. I think the point he is making is to not have too few or too many. Ten is a good number, meaty enough to provide ample substance for your life story, autobiography or memoir. Depending on your core memories and events in your life and the purpose of writing your story you may not even use all the memories on your core list. Thatís up to you.

The hundreds of memories you write on your extended memory list will probably include some that can be grouped together and that are part of a ďcoreĒ memory. This is one of the reasons for writing down your extended memory list first.

Itís a good idea to store your list of memories in a three-ring binder. And keep in mind that it can take months to complete your list. In fact, your list may never be completed in the sense that you canít add to it later. Keep it fluid.

Another good resource to help jog your memory and add to your memory list is the MemoryGrabber. Michael Boyter created an affordable e-book with lots of excellent tips on preserving your life story. He has an entire section of what he terms "lists". He suggests you write lists on your favorite things (movies, cars, vegetable, ice cream flavor, season, movie and poem are just a few). He also encourages you to think about people from your life, your family, friends and those you admire (or not) and create a list of those fitting certain categories like the most creative, best looking, funniest, most compassionate, hardest worker, best cook and so on.

Developing a list of memories is a powerful way to get you working on your life story. It helps you remember more. It gives you something to write about when you feel stuck. And, most importantly, it is concrete evidence that you have lived and made memories and that it is all part of your life Ė and your story!

You can read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resources You Can Use

Turning Memories into Memoirs

This resource is a self-described handbook for writing life stories and it is packed with practical and useful information. It will guide you through the process of starting and finishing your memoir, autobiography or life story (use the term that best fits your project). The author, Denis Ledoux, has received a great deal of positive reviews for his book and it was recently revised and expanded. You can learn more about the book and order it at his website While there you can learn more about his Soleil Lifestory Network and workshops.

The MemoryGrabber

Iíve recommended the excellent MemoryGrabber e-book for years now and I personally use it when helping others develop and write their personal histories. Itís highly affordable and over-delivers in helpful tips and guidance. Iíve highlighted Michael Boyterís creation as a former ďHighlight SiteĒ and you can find out more about this resource and others at my profile of his Family History Products website here.

The Highlight Site

I search for other useful personal history resources, services and content on the Internet and from time to time I share this information through the Highlight Site section of my Your Life is Your Story website.

Closing Information

Thatís it for this monthís issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and hereís to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know youíve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this Ďzine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, Ė keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

Back to Back Issues Page