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Organizing Those Life Stories

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

notebook and pen

As a life story writer, I’ve never considered myself an organizer, but after meeting and learning a lot from professional organizers, I find we have a lot in common! How do you take a person’s life and boil it down to 20-30 pages? You have to organize a bit.

Perhaps you’re thinking of writing your own life story, or want to write stories down from a loved one’s life—what’s stopping you? For many, it’s getting started. Fear around getting started stops people before they even get out of the gate. It’s fear of failure. It’s fear of getting it wrong. Don’t let this be an excuse! Because, the good news is, there are many ways to start. Here are a few options for organizing those life stories.

  1. Chronological. Detail a life story as a progression in years, highlighting select stories from childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and finally, mature adult life. This option is the most popular and can often be the easiest way to get your head around a project like this. But consider some other options:

  2. Theme. Perhaps you only want to focus on a particular area of a life, such as childhood, career, parenting, lessons learned, or relationships. With one theme in mind, you can be more strategic and selective when you start organizing memories into stories that highlight that theme the best.

  3. Character. We often think of characters as fictional, but they are the people in your life story. Organize memories into different perspectives, and tell a story from different points of view, such as Parent/Child/Grandchild or Spouse/Spouse. It’s amazing really—2 people can go through the same event and have vastly different stories to tell!

Hope these options give you the courage to get started on a life story—either yours or that of a loved one. It’s important work, and has benefits wider reaching than journaling words on a page. It can be therapeutic, promote better connection and understanding among family members, and can teach future generations about the people that walked before them. So write that life story! If you need help, I’m here. 


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