• Helen Gregory

Finding freedom and acceptance

As a life story writer, I hear a common lament: “My life isn’t interesting enough – who’s going to want to read about me?”

Everyone’s lives, however ‘ordinary’, are filled with experiences that other people can relate to, which makes them inherently interesting. A memoir or life story attempts to make meaning of your life's events and, unlike a novel, doesn’t have to follow a plot or chronological order to make sense. It’s about reflection, observations, beliefs and opinions. There’s freedom in how you write, and acceptance from the readers – usually mainly your family and friends.

Don't feel that you need to catalogue everything from birth onwards; it’s an account of a period, or series of events from your life, which can be centred on parents or grandparents or themes, such as marriage or loss.

Photographs are the next best place to go to jog memories and create vivid memories on the page, using all your senses – smell, taste, feel and sound as well as the more typical sight to engage readers.

To help, you can try a couple of exercises: picking a memory then sit quietly with it for a while – in a meditative state – to really try and transport yourself back to that moment in time, being aware of what’s around you, smells, colours and food, before attempting to write down or record those sensory recollections while still in this semi-meditative state.

Another idea is to draw a map of a certain memory, encouraging yourself to remember small details. Perhaps start with your childhood house, draw this along with neighbours’ houses, adding street names and people’s names and their relation to you. Mark down any significant events on the map and the reason, or result of what happened. It’s surprising how the act of creating a detailed, colour diagram can help hidden memories resurface.

Some people have kept a journal much of their lives, in which case, that’s a good way of embarking on a life story. However, too much material can be overwhelming, so if you need some guidance about how to get these memories down or in order, Memory Lane Books can help.

Try meditating then let your thoughts run free!