Perhaps as you’ve considered writing a personal history book, you’ve asked yourself, “Where do I even begin?” The undertaking of writing a book can always feel overwhelming. But before you give up, remember that in writing a personal history book, all of the characters already exist, the conversations and experiences have already happened, and you are an expert on the topic! Here are 5 tips to help you get started:
1 – Set Constraints
The information you have at your disposal will far outweigh what you’ll be able to include in your personal history book. It’s key that you set a framework for your book. Start by considering dates. Perhaps this book will range from your birth to your teen’s, or from X-year to Y-year. You may also constrain your personal history book to specific events like memorable family experiences, life-changing events, or your greatest achievements. Whatever your constraints are, make sure to set them early as it will help you in the following steps.
2 – Gather, gather, gather
A personal history book is best when it has stories that haven’t been told, photos that haven’t been seen, and quotes that haven’t been heard. This should be one of the most fun parts of writing a personal history. This is your chance to play detective and reminisce on some of the most influential moments in your history. So, enjoy this step! When gathering information for your book, consider the following ideas:
- Call loved ones. Grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts, friends, whoever might have different insight on your experiences.
- Make it a staple to ask if they have any photos. A picture really is worth a thousand words in a personal history book.
- Obtain more information than you need.
3 – Create an Outline
Before you start putting your ideas down, make sure you know where you’re going with your history. Personal history books that wander aimlessly are hard to follow and less exciting. Make sure that your book follows a natural flow. It will save you time and energy if you organize your book first and then fill each chapter with the details you gathered in Step 2.
4 – Write Essentials First
It may be tempting to just start writing down everything at once, starting from the beginning. Try to first write about the anchoring moments of your life, like moving to a new neighborhood, getting married, or other impactful moments. By writing about these experiences first you’ll have a type of checkpoint to guarantee that you’re staying on track and writing with purpose. Also, these essential moments in your history deserve the most time. These moments made you who you are and thus are most interesting to your readers.
5 – Add in Details
After you have written about the most important things, come back and add the extra information you learned in Step 2. This is where you can share funny moments, quotes, photos, and relate stories that need to be told. It’s these small details that will bring your history back to life. These are experiences and memories that made life enjoyable and worthwhile.
When your book is complete, be sure to visit MyCanvas.com for book templates and an easy-to-use website that will allow you to simply print your personal history in a beautifully bound book. It will then be ready to share with all of your loved ones.
For more information or answers to questions, contact MyCanvas below.