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by Richard Campbell
Writing your life story sounds easy. After all, you know your life better than anyone else. In fact you know lots of things, way too many things to ever get it all on paper. That’s a relief. But what do you write? Where do you begin?
Here’s a process to get you kick-started on your own life story. Answer the following ten questions, and the answers to the writing prompts will be the framework to your story.
1. Fork in the Road
As we go through life, we experience many forks in the road – turning points – that interrupt the normal flow of everyday living. They often include our first day of school, graduation, loss of a family member or close friend, winning a sports event, a first job, our wedding, birth of a child, a divorce, retirement, and so on. Most of us would have hundreds to choose from, some far more dramatic than others. Often our best stories lie in the seemingly minor forks in the road experiences. What was one of your early forks in the road life experiences?
2. Family Ties
Many of our key life experiences revolve around our families. These include the one we were raised in, and the one we may have now. Some of us have lost our families along the way. There’s always a story to tell. What is yours?
3. Money Talks
Our financial status can change over time. Often it doesn’t. How has wealth or the lack of it impacted your own life? Was money a strong motivator and did it change your worldview?
4. Occupational Hazards
What was your life’s work? Did you hold down several positions or did you stay focused on raising a family as your work mission? Did you work solely in order to pay bills or did you work because it was your passion?
The way we see ourselves reflects the way we see the world. Has your own self-image changed over the course of your life? Was it ever problematic for you? How did you resolve that?
6. Gender Identity
As a child, how did you see yourself: Were you all boy, all girl, a mix of both? As an adolescent, did any of that change? How about as an adult?
7. On the Horizon
As we age, we become more reflective. We start asking: What’s it like to die? Has life been hard on me or have I been hard on it? What are your thoughts on this inevitable stage of life?
8. The Powers that Be
As we progress through life, our spiritual beliefs can change. What has religion or the power of belief meant to you over the years?
9. Home Run
As time passes we attain some goals, drop others along the way and create new ones. What major goals have you accomplished? What new ones do you wish to go for?
10. The Paths We Have Walked
We all leave a legacy, intended or not. If you could formalize a letter to your children or grandchildren, what would you tell them? How would you inspire them to overcome the challenges of life that lie ahead?
Answering these questions will give you a quick-start to your life story. Each of these is based on one of the ten core themes from our book, Writing Your Legacy: The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story.
Do you have a great response to one of the prompts above? Share your answers in the comments below.
Richard Campbell runs his own life-story writing business in Ontario, Canada. As co-author of Writing Your Legacy: The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story, published by Writer’s Digest, he teaches these concepts to students around North America. He also offers enrichment classes on life-story writing with a major cruise line on their transatlantic crossings. Richard can be reached through his website, www.guidedlifestories.com.
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