I write and speak for a living. When I’m on a book tour, I hear it all the time. At every book event, at least one person will enthusiastically tell me they are going to write a book. I think they all believe they will do it, but I am only aware of two out of the hundreds of others who have completed the task. I am always encouraging. I think there is a book that every person should write but few will. I believe everyone should write the story of their life.
Think about this …
When a person dies, it’s as if a valuable library burns to the ground, with thousands of one-of-a-kind history books. The only person who can preserve your library is you.
Arlene and I just spent a little more than two weeks with our grandsons, Caleb and Noah. Whenever I am with them, I think about the times I spent with my grandfather. As I think about my short time with the father of my father, I realize how little I know about him. I know the basics, birth and death dates; I know he was a southern Illinois coal miner and pig farmer … but what did he think and feel? What were his thoughts about events of the day? What were his health struggles and disappointments? I would love to know him better, but the available information is limited, and those who knew him best are all gone.
I look at my grandsons and think that I want them to know more than the basics. I want them to be able to pass their knowledge of me to their grandchildren someday. It isn’t a matter of ego, but a continuation and a hope for familiarity of family after we are gone. We should know where we came from and how we developed into who we are, then pass that information on through the ages.
I’m confident that most of you will agree, but how do you make it so? Write.
You might say that you are a terrible writer. So what? Do you think your great-grandchildren will criticize the way you turn a phrase? I think they will be delighted that you cared enough about them to leave them your thoughts and remembrances. I am confident they will cherish knowing about you and learn valuable lessons from your history.
There also are the health benefits of knowing family histories. We are learning daily how large a role genetics play into our lives. Future generations should know in advance the health tendencies our family DNA might carry forward.
Writing styles vary from person to person and it really doesn’t matter how you share your life. Some might pound it out on a keyboard, and others might ponder their life’s journey with pen in hand. Some might choose to record their words in their own voice, and others might choose video to put a face on their journey. All that is important is that you take your experience, knowledge and wisdom and pass it on.
Don’t worry about style or lack of writing experience. The future members of your family will not care. You aren’t writing to submit for publication. You are writing a love letter to future generations, filled with the history of your life. Just do it.
The hardest part of any writing project is beginning. Decide how you will preserve your story and begin. Make sure you have back up. Whether it is photocopies of your notebook or uploading from your computer to the cloud … just make sure what you write can’t be accidentally lost.
Then begin. Start with the basics. Where were you born? Who were your parents? Who were their parents? Where did you attend school? What subjects did you enjoy? Did you play a sport or a musical instrument? What foods do you love? Where did you travel? What music do you enjoy? What life lessons do you think important to pass forward? Get started. What are you waiting for?
Once you begin, I think the information will pour out onto the pages. I believe you will find it both fun and therapeutic, as well as putting your years on this planet in perspective.
Get started today.
Will you do it?