There is one story that you know so well that you are the only person who can truly capture it. That story is your own, the story of you. You know what has happened in your life, you know what is happening in your life and you, and only you, know what you would like to happen in your life. It is your life and you can tell that story.
I can’t remember everything that has happened to me up to this point. My memory only goes back so far, and even in the years intervening, it is a tad (that’s a wonderful word) unreliable. However, I use my own life, my own story, to practise my writing. It’s also a useful skill to improve our memory and keep our minds as sharp as they can be. All this helps us improve our writing.
Can you write your life story up to this point? Here are just some ways in which it will help develop your writing ability and technique.
If there is one character you know it is yourself. This will show you what things you need to share and understand to make a rounded protagonist, however functional or dysfunctional, you yourself may have been.
You will be writing, for the most part, about the past, your past. It is a bygone era, a time that no longer exists. You might feel nostalgic, or fearful. You will remember things that were done and used that are no longer available or practical today. However, you were there, and so you have experience of living and working in those days. If you decide to write any project that deals with the past, this will be of help.
All your senses
Your memory captures every sense, but you will need to probe it to get the best out of it. Use sight, sound, smell, taste and touch to bring the memories back to life.
The future and the future
At any point looking back to your history you are writing from the future. You know how things will turn out but you don’t, or didn’t, know at the time. As you write you can learn to bring tension into a narrative, don’t reveal too much too soon. You will also be talking about your future, the future you don’t yet know about. What hopes and fears do you have for that? How does unresolved tension work in your story?
Your story can create story
Writing your story can help you write the story of others. It might be that writing your own memoir, biography, is all you want to do, and that is fine. However, you can use this exercise as a tool to develop your writing skills. You don’t have to worry about creating the protagonist in your story, because you already exist.
Over to you
Have you tried writing your own story?