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Return to top Not sure where to start with your personal or family history?Start by making a list of stories you want to write down eventually. Think about the anecdotes you find yourself telling over and over—like that disaster you narrowly avoided, that crazy coincidence, that one time you ran into a famous person.Return to top I already know what some of you are going to say. Your family will to have some of your words written in your own hand. Just do your best to allow your authentic voice to shine through.
Seventeen years after my Grandpa Bob passed away, my dad planned a family reunion at a park in Northern Utah.
Prior to the reunion, he invited his four siblings and their children to email him their favorite memories of Grandpa Bob.
After all, you don’t your life in chronological order.
Memories tend to pop up at random, triggered by the strangest things. I have an encyclopedia-style document on my computer where I gather memories under alphabetized topics: “Adventures with Jori,” “Body Quirks,” “Cheese,” etc.
As you write your stories down, you can add whatever structure to your memories you want. (Yes, I really do have a story about cheese.) Photos, keepsakes, clothing, and other objects can be wonderful memory triggers.
Look through photo albums at relatives’ homes and see what stories come to mind. Plan a visit to a neighborhood or city where you once lived.Let these simple tips inspire you to put pen to paper. Rowling couldn’t tell your stories better than you can.No one is more qualified to tell your family’s story than you are. One of the reasons my cousin’s words came so alive for me is because her family members are all great verbal storytellers.What matters is that our stories get told, in all of their imperfect glory.Would you like to make 2018 a year to tell your family stories?Walk around, notebook in hand, and see what memories surface.You can also use questions or writing prompts, like the #52stories project, to trigger memories and stories.He compiled the memories in a 16-page document and printed copies for everyone.One of my favorite entries came from my cousin, Natalie, who signed off with an apology: “I’m not a good writer, so hopefully this all made sense. The stories Natalie shared were interesting and specific, full of fun details and sayings Grandpa was known for.If you make a general statement, think about the evidence you’d include if you had to prove you’re telling the truth.For example, my cousin Natalie wrote, “I remember Grandpa always took very nice care of things.” If she had stopped there, it still would have been a true statement about Grandpa, but it became much more memorable when she added this detail: “If he used the weed eater, he’d wipe it off and put it back in the box.” Now tells a story about just how careful and meticulous Grandpa was.