January 24th, 2020
Maybe it’s because I’m a storyteller that everyone I meet tells me they want to write a book. What they really want to do is write their life story. Maybe not all of it, but the unforgettable three or four events that have shaped their life.
One reason I believe people want to tell their story is because they’re afraid they’ll forget it. It’s not recorded anywhere. Texting, emailing, and such leaves no footprint. Personal letters are virtually nonexistent. Unless you keep a daily journal or save emails into a digital file, it’s unlikely you have anything other than you memory to rely upon.
No one knows the power of storytelling more than patients. They remember details others have forgotten. The ripple effect of being healed or treated stays with them; the evidence of their journey felt daily. There is much the healthcare industry could learn from listening to patient stories. They can provide insights and knowledge that data and statistics cannot. Their stories put the soul into a clinical trial and reawaken those who have lost hope.
Here are a few tips on getting your story down.
Capture the images – identify three or four crucial events in your life. Describe them in three-word sentences. Caught scarlet fever. Killed black bear. Flunked the bar.
Write a few paragraphs about each — you don’t have to be Hemingway, no one is going to grade it. Just let your thoughts flow on the page. Sketch out the location, who was around, time of year, etc. It’s your story, your perspective. Let it come naturally.
Go back and color it in – fill in some descriptors using your five senses — touch, taste, sight, smell, hear — so we’re in the scene with you — “soaked shoes” “cigar smoke” “burnt toast” “creaky floors”.
Ask others to fill in the gaps – others around at the time will remember it differently. What do they recall? Memories are like the sunset – no one sees it the same way.
Ready. Set. Record. – once complete, get it down in some tangible, lasting way. On paper in a journal for your kids. On video to play at the holidays. In a DIY book with photos as a wedding gift. In a scrapbook you rotate among your siblings.
Seldom does history repeat itself. Everyone has a story. Make yours memorable. I guarantee you, everyone else in your life will be glad you did.