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Guest Post: How to Write Your Own Life Story

I was recently the featured storyteller on a new site called Story of My LIfe that enables anyone to share anecdotes about their lives online and I was blown away by Tamar Burris' profile of me.
Today, we have a guest post by Kristen Kuhns, the founder of the site who offers tips on how you can capture the milestones and special moments of your life and turn it into a compelling read.

By Kristen Kuhns, founder of StoryOfMyLife.com.

Perhaps you have climbed tall mountains and visited foreign lands or perhaps you live a few minutes away from the house where you were born and built a beautiful life from simple things. No matter what your life has been like, there will likely come a time when you are thinking about how to pass the lessons that you have learned on to the ones who come after you. You might have a specific son or daughter in mind or perhaps you are simply writing for anyone who can learn from what you have been through. Keeping your Stories permanently recorded, rather than letting other people (or search engines) dictate what your future ancestors read about you, is important.

If you are ready to write your life story, you might not know where to begin. You might have all the information that you need, but you should also think about where you want to write it down. There are many people out there who jot things away in a notebook and never think about doing anything more permanent. When these records are lost, the people who supplied them with the information might not be around anymore to help them replace it, and this is why you want to think about how you are holding on to this information.

Don't rely on your memory to keep you on the right track. One thing that you will quickly learn about writing is that it is a surprisingly immediate process where the things that you are working on become paramount. Small details that you would love to include can be easily lost in the shuffle, and sometimes that would be a great shame. Start keeping notes and use the tools that you have available to you. Keeping a notebook is one good way, but another is to keep your notes organized is to use your computer. There are going to be ways to leave notes for yourself attached to your documents and they can pop up when you need them. Remember that when you do anything on your computer that you need to back it up! Go online and look for archival sites where your work can be saved and even shared.

Technology plays a huge part in what we can do to make sure that your life lessons get passed on. Online preservation sites are actually quite different from what you might expect, and in many cases, they are significantly superior to what you might have access to. For instance, when you use online preservation sites, you don't have to worry about a website that that disappears if you forget to pay fees or to renew the domain name. Similarly, even blogging sites can be deactivated if unused, taking years of work and thought with them! Or worse, a company could go out of business, losing ALL its customer's data.

Remember that burning something to a CD or DVD is a good back-up, but in the long haul not going to cut it. Less than twenty years ago, people were using 8-track players or 9mm movie reels (you've probably even got some old family movies or slides in your closet or attic); who knows what kind of data storage we are going to be using in the next twenty or even fifty years to come? The question of online archival storage can help relieve your mind. Even physical storage that we consider effective now can be swept away. DVDs can be lost, scrapbooks or memoirs can be damaged by water or fire and any notes or ephemera that you might think important can disappear. This is why you want to make sure that you are going to be able to preserve what you know.

Writing your life story can be extremely satisfying; you will find that you can reach a better understanding of your own life through doing so and you'll be able to be truthful with yourself in a way that might have been difficult before. Similarly, you can influence the people who come after you and teach them some of the lessons that you have won. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to share and teach; you never know when it might make a difference!

BIO: Kristen Kuhns is co-founder of STORY OF MY LIFE www.StoryOfMyLife.com. Story of My Life is the world's largest online Story collection of the most extraordinary people - you, your parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren... Read User Stories or Featured Stories, then create your own. Story of My Life makes it easy and fun to create and share your favorite memories - stories, pictures, videos & more - and preserve them Forever!

Posted in: Blog, Guest Post Corner on 09/18/2009

Comments

  • Amy Johnson

    Very interesting. We get so busy as parents that the years fly by. Often we're so busy capturing our kids' lives on camera that we forget to document our own so that they'll be sure to know us too. Thanks for the reminder. I will take a look at StoryOfMyLife.

  • Reading this post, I realize that there should be a caveat about why mothers should worry about writing their stories. The mother-child relationship is so complex, layered, and nuanced. After all, who else can pack such a wallop in such simple words as "you're wearing that?", and who knows us better than we know ourselves yet sometimes leave us to wonder whether we really came from that womb?

    I was about 13 when I first realized that my mother was a person, and not just MY Mom, not just someone who took care of me, loved me, focused on ME. I found a quiz she had filled out in a women's magazine buried among her great pile of things she was reading. It contained questions about her career (she'd taken time off to raise three children), her marriage, her dreams. Before then I had never thought about her and her needs. She wasn't a person-person to me; she was just "my mom." This was a huge revelation for me, and one that alterered our relationship significantly.

    Today I am encouraging my mother to write her own stories, so that we will know who she is and was. There is so much to her that we don't know. By nature a rather reticent person, she finds comfort in the written word (over telling stories verbally) and I'm learning more about her than I ever knew - all the complex, nuanced layers that make up my mother.

    -Kristen

  • Hey,I know you!! Awesome write up on Story of My Life!! Love it!

    Being a featured storyteller at Story of My Life has been an incredible experience as well. I have "met" so many amazing people and enjoy hearing their stories and being able to share them with others.

    Sarah

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