Alternatives to Life-story Writing

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium

Maybe writing the story of your life just isn’t for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t record something about your life for your children and grandchildren to enjoy. Here are some easy alternatives:

• Keep a diary or journal. No matter what your age, start now. As you record daily events and your thoughts and feelings, you can always backtrack and record an experience or event from your past.

• Write letters to the younger generation of your family, telling them what life was like for you at their age.

• Tell your life story or events into a tape recorder. If it helps, write out questions you’d like an interviewer to ask you, then enlist someone to stage an interview for the tape. (Or ask them to record the questions, then use two tape recorders — one to play and ask the questions, the other to record your responses.) Make a backup copy of your tapes, then hire someone to transcribe them, since cassette and video tapes have only about a 10-year life span even under optimal conditions.

• Start a simple chronology of your life. On a sheet of paper, or on the computer, list every year from your birth on. Beside the years, record one or more memorable events. Here’s an example:

1956 I was born, on, October 17 at United Hospital in Port Chester, New York.




1960 I started nursery schooL One, of the nuns made me, sit in, the corner because I refused to finger paint and get my hands dirty.

1961 We moved from Port Chester, New York, to La Habra, California.

1962 We moved from La Habra, to La Mirada, California.




1966 We moved from La Mirada, California, to Mineral Welts, Texas.

If you ever do decide to write an autobiography or memoir, you’ll already have ideas and an outline. As memories return to you, add them to your chronology.

From the January 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine.