Inspired by the untimely death of her mother, Bryher Scudamore, managing director of Autodotbiography has revealed how you can write your own life story. “Give your past a future, it's the best possible legacy.” Says Bryher.
Where to start:
It’s recommended that you leave yourself a little note where you’ll see it every day to encourage you to keep writing.
3 top tips on getting started:
- Focus. Set aside an hour each day for note making and writing. Make it a time when you will not permit yourself to be distracted into doing anything else. Your goal each day is not 'to finish writing the current section' but 'to do an hour'.
- Gather your memories. First, get a notebook. This is going to be dedicated to noting down memories about your life and questions as they come to you. Second, gather up all the photograph albums you can find and all those envelopes with photographs that you never had time to put into an album.
- Organise. Keep a large envelope or a box alongside your notebook or computer. Use this to store the pictures and documents you want to use in your book.
The importance of photographs
“Photographs are a powerful way of bringing back long forgotten memories.” Says Bryher. “They can fascinate the younger members of the family when they see the strange clothes we wore in our younger days.” Be sure to go through all of the pictures you own and keep them organised. This isn’t something you need to do in one day, leave a pile on the coffee table and flick through some every now and then with a brew.
It’s important to go into as much detail as possible. Describing what your favourite meal was as a child may not seem important to you, but it will be to others because it’s the little details that people don’t know about that will make your book extra special. “It is the little insights that are the most revealing to future generations.” Says Bryher.
What to write
You may have things that have happened in your life that you just don’t want others to know. It’s okay if you don’t want to include everything, it’s your life as told by you. So ultimately, it’s up to you what you want to include. “No one is going to force a truth serum down your throat. The reality is that your family will be delighted to have whatever you feel like sharing.” Says Bryher.
“Questions, are at the core of stimulating you to pull out relevant stuff from the hidden depths of your memory.” Says Bryher. “Keep a section of your notebook just for writing down questions as they occur to you. Train yourself to think them up and jot them down.”
Questions to think about:
- Who were your parents? What were they like?
- What was your place and date of birth? Were there any special circumstances?
- Where did you grow up? What it was like when you were a child?
- What were your siblings like?
- What about your childhood home? Was it big or small?
Remember that the more detail you provide, the better. Especially if you don't have some pictures, good descriptions will help readers create their own images.
It’s important that you find a system that works for you, if you’re using a word processor Bryher recommends creating each chapter in a separate document to make it easier to organise.
Once complete, there are many platforms for you to publish your book, you can record yourself talking through it or have it as an electronic book. If you want it to last a long time it’s advised that it’s printed as a physical copy.
If you feel inspired to write your autobiography, Bryher’s online system Autodotbiography guides users through the different ‘chapters’ of their life and builds the entire book for you.
How it works:
- Autodotbiography.com makes it simple for you to create your book. The system asks users to answer a series of questions about their life
- Users can add photos and other documents
- Autodotbiography will do the rest to create your beautifully, professionally written book
To create the book of your life using autodotbiography, it would normally cost £250 for a year’s access to the system and one hardback book with no restriction on length, but for a limited time only, Yours Magazine readers can write their story for a special price of £200 – Quote: Yoursforever
You can find out more information about writing your autobiography at www.autodotbiography.com