Writing Your Story

birdflyingA lot of people want to write their life story.

And yet a lot of people have the same query: Who’d be interested in reading about me?

The answer? Sombody. That simple.

Wherever you are in your life, you’ve gone through experiences that are, in all likelihood, both relatable and useful to others.

Here’s a basic example: you’re a survivor of an illness – it might be cancer, it could be depression, it could be anything. You were low, and didn’t think you’d make it. But you went through the hospital system, tried some alternate treatments, had some ups and even more downs, but you pulled through.

Would you think you’re the only one who’s gone through this sort of experience? The knowledge that you haven’t, might seem to make it common, thus is there any point writing about it? But think about your ups, your downs – there’s a very good chance that somebody out there had even more downs. They might feel even more hopeless. Yours might be the story that helps them through whatever they’re going through, physically, intellectually, spiritually, and/or emotionally.

You have something to offer.

Or maybe you don’t believe that’s the case. Perhaps you don’t believe you’ve had anything significant happen to you. You might just be a divorcee with two kids who had to re-join the workforce following your separation so you could support your kids and your household. How many people would this scenario apply to? Thousands? Tens of thousands? If you were able to make a success of your life following a divorce, yours could be the story which inspires others in a similar situation to do the same.

Or maybe you believe you’ve had even less than that happen to you. Possibly you’re in a happy marriage – forty years in the same marriage, working the same job, living in the same house. Nothing to talk about at all. Other than forty years in the same marriage, working the same job, living in the same house. That in itself is an accomplishment. Not a lot of people can boast the same. How do you do it? What do you have to offer others who may be pursuing a similar sort of solidarity?

The point is we all have something to offer. We mightn’t believe it, but if you think about your life, we all have a message to convey – a message that an audience out there might be waiting for.

Think of it this way: if you were a reader, and were looking for a memoir, biography, or autobiography written by an everyman that could help with some aspect of your life, what would it be? Is it something grandiose? Or something simple? Is there something you believe you have to share?

If you have a story, a message, you want to shout to the world, then it is up to you to write it. Granted, it mightn’t lead to fame or fortune – so few books do. And a commercial publisher mightn’t pick it up simply because it is by an everyman – there are more than a few examples where a commercial publishers has descried a story told by an everyman, but picked up something similar by a celebrity, because the celebrity’s name would publicise and sell the book for them. So if you’re going to write, you need to be clear about why you’re doing it. You also need to be clear that you may need to self-publish (either in print, or digitally) to get your story out there.

Here’s some tips, if you consider taking up the challenge:

  • Be yourself: don’t try and sound like somebody you’re not. If you have a story to tell, it should be told as only you can tell it.
  • Be honest: just tell the truth. Don’t embellish. Don’t twist. It will always catch you out in the end.
  • Be searching: a lot of people who write autobiographically only skim the surface of their lives, especially in early drafts. It might hurt to go deep, to expose yourself and leave yourself vulnerable, but readers respond to vulnerability and raw truth.
  • Observe a chronology: it’s a simple structure. Don’t jump forward. Don’t go back. Just stick to what happened, as it happened.
  • Avoid waffling: don’t believe that more is better. It’s not.
  • Avoid repetition: trust that your reader is intelligent enough to get the point the first time. They only need it once. Repeating a point or, worse, belabouring a point, only dilutes it, (unless it’s done stylistically for effect).
  • Don’t write to a word count: your story is as long a it needs to be, no more, no less.
  • Be fearless: if this is an endeavour you’re going to pursue, then leave nothing behind. Spend it all on the page.

If this is the sort of writing that you’ve considered pursuing, or want to pursue, but always disputed whether anybody wanted to hear your story, think about what you’ve learned and, remember, we all have a story to share.


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