Everyone has experience worth passing on
Life stories are a way of telling about your unique life by finding what you think has been important in your life. There are no right or wrong conclusions or forced interpretations that don't fit - it's your life and your story. It is a way of passing on to others what your life experience has given you.
A life story lets others see why you went this way or that way. It tells who and what influenced you, and how life turned out. It tells what you consider important.
The story continues with your life. You can expand on the story at any time.
Telling your life story is not only a good gift for family and friends, it is also is often very helpful for the teller. When we tell others about the events in our lives, the stories draw on our lives for context, and we often see things that we didn't see before. Something new comes out of the process. Often just telling the story brings clarity.
Talking about our experiences is also an opportunity to change. Mandy Aftel, in The Story of Your Life, describes the importance of talking about experience in this way: "Experience that we have talked about is deeply different from experience that we have never put into words.... Committing an experience to words not only fixes it within a verbal structure but also gives it a greater reality, because it determines how we will remember, regard, and communicate what transpired in the future. Language gives meaning to experience. Changing the words we use to describe things can actually change what we want to do and what we think we are."
At any time in our life we can reinterpret the same experience to have different meanings. As we mature, we "see things differently." But we can also remain stuck with our old attitude. Aftel acknowledges that if we view an experience from the perspective of a well entrenched attitude, such as, "Nothing good ever happens to us," then an experience is just another statistic added to the pile of proof.
Not only is it helpful to put our experiences into words and think about them in different ways to help us change, the very act of telling someone else is also a vehicle to understanding and change. Eugene Gendlin, in Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, sees life as a process in which experience is continually changing us. The act of telling your story is another of life's experiences, a catalyst to new understanding and change.
The life story interview provides an opportunity to view your life differently as you examine different aspects of your life and put your life into words for another person.
Everyone wants to pass on their life's experience to others. Everyone would like to write their life story. I often hear that people sat down and wrote page one, and that's as far as it went. Some ask a loved one to write it. It doesn't happen. Some even hire someone to write it. It takes weeks. A life is many years in the making and filled with events, and the life story goes on and on and on, and it is difficult to make sense of it. Much of life doesn't make sense, so how do you decide what to write? A life experience can be very helpful to others, but how do you pass it on?
Why me? I'm a professional writer, and also have a background in psychology, ministry, entertainment and nonfiction writing, marketing, and many other fields. Since 1990 I have been writing and analyzing stories, and showing other writers how to focus them on what is important. I also analyzed life story methods for the best way to tell them, and for trying to understand life storylines and meaning. Life is not a TV story - it's meanings are complex. My methods get you right to what you decide is the most important stuff.
First, I give you a guide and a group of questions to inventory some important aspects of your life. You decide what goes into the inventory. These create the focus needed to clarify what you want to tell. You don't need to write anything, just answer the questions for yourself.
The remainder of the process is up to the interviewer.