Don’t get it right. GET IT WRITTEN!

Putting It All Together

The last part of the Write a Life Starter Program is HOW to put it all together and what next steps to take.

You can do this even if you haven’t yet filled in the blanks you identified with the naturally arising questions, although the chance of getting bogged down in details is greater is you chose this route.

There are two ways to approach this exercise and I have provided examples of both below, based on the third person narrative of my story.

To keep your work organised, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed, it may help to put each paragraph into a different document and work on them separately.

You will note that the naturally arising questions are still unanswered in these examples, because my finished story is destined to be shared only with family and close friends.

There is no rule that says a life story must start with birth and move forward in a linear way. You can start in the present day and work backwards. Or start in the middle and go forwards and backwards, or around in circles.

But the time to creative with this project comes later. As always, the objective right now is

DON’T GET IT RIGHT, GET IT WRITTEN.

Expect to do a LOT of cutting and pasting! Save frequently!

EXERCISE 1

Arrange the information you have gathered into some kind of logical order. The aim here is create a flow to the story so that future readers get a real sense and taste of the life you’ve preserved.

  1. CHRONOLOGICAL

You can arrange the information in loose chronological order, from birth to the present day. Treat each paragraph as a mini-story which can be expanded upon as required, as in EXAMPLE 1

For many, this is s the simplest and best way to proceed.

  1. CHAPTER HEADINGS

If you prefer, you can organise the paragraphs under different headings as per EXAMPLE 2. For now, it doesn’t matter what you name your chapters as long as they act as prompts for when you want to work on a particular area again. They can be changed later.

Logical sequence

EXAMPLE 1 – CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

Eileen was born on January 12th, 1955. It was a Wednesday in the middle of the Baby Boomer era. What was the Baby Boomer era? Why was it called that? What was the world like then?

Eileen has always felt that her name is a bit old-fashioned and that it never fully belonged to her. The only other people she knew with her name were adults. Her parents called her after somebody else so it didn’t feel original enough. What’s so important to her about feeling original?

Bennett is her birth name and she likes it. The Bennetts were well-respected and her father always taught me that it was a name to be proud of. How did the Bennetts earn their respect?

Eileen’s family came from West Cork. There’s a T-junction in the village. What’s the name of the village? What was it like? The Bennett’s had a shop on one side of the road and the Urells had a pub on the other side. Her father was born on the Bennett side. Her mother was born in Wicklow but the Urells in Cork were first cousins. Urell is an unusual name.t Where did they came from? How did her parents meet?

She started Junior Infants in St Anne’s, Milltown when she was 4.1/2. This was the first of 4 schools Why did she move school? Where did she move to? What was that like? she attended before she left formal education at 17. Why did she leave formal education at 17? What did she do next?

Her father died when she was seven. He had a heart attack when he was 47. His health wasn’t good because he’d had a hard time in the war. What war? What was he doing there? How did it damage his health?

Eileen and her sister were in West Cork with family when he died so everything was over by the time they got back to Dublin. Why was she in West Cork with her sister? Where was the rest of the family? He was just not there anymore. What was that like? How did it affect you?

Her first memory of a place is her family home in Braemor Rd in Dublin. Eileen doesn’t remember a time before Braemor Road. Where did she live before Braemor Rd? She thinks she was around 2 when they moved in. She remembers that the back garden was a mess. The grass was long, like a field. She remembers when it was all dug up and they put grass seed on it and weren’t allowed to play on it for weeks. She remembers helping to build the rockery and planting heathers between the stones. Who else was there then? There are very happy memories associated with that house, but some very sad ones too. What are the sad memories? Happy memories include playing with friends in the garden or on the street or in each other’s houses. Her tricycle, roller skates, Cowboys and Indians, cap guns, going to the local shop. Who did she play with? What kind of games did they play? What was her favourite game?

Eileen and her family lived in the house for just over 2 years after her father died in 1962 and things were different for those years. How were they different?

Being the eldest brought a lot of responsibility and pressure as she was growing up. What kind of pressure and responsibility? After her father died, Eileen’s relationship with her mother changed and she became more of a partner than a child. In what way? She took her role as big sister very seriously. She was frequently told (by other adults, not by her mother) that it was her responsibility to set a good example and to make sure that none of her sisters did anything to upset their mother. How did she manage that?

Eileen started in St Anne’s in Milltown because she was living in Dublin. When she moved to Wicklow Why did they move to Wicklow? What part?  in December 1964 she started in St Patrick’s in Bray, but moved to St Brigid’s in Kilcoole in September 1965. Why did she move schools so quickly? From there, Eileen went to Secondary School in St David’s in Greystones. They were all Catholic schools and there were a lot of nuns, but the numbers dwindled as she went through school. What memories does she have of school days?

She was 17 when she left St David’s after her Leaving Cert. She wanted to study veterinary or journalism but wasn’t allowed. Why was she attracted to those areas of study? Why was she not allowed to pursue them? They wanted her to be a teacher, but Eileen didn’t like children, so she went to work. Who were ‘they’ and why did they have such power? Why did she dislike children? It was important at that time for her to work because her mother needed financial help with her four younger sisters. How was her mother supporting the family?

Eileen’s first paid job was babysitting, when she was 12 and she’s been working ever since, so that’s 53 years. What other jobs has she had?

As a child, Eileen thought that The Virginian had everything anyone could want in a man. When did she first see The Virginian? He was kind. He helped people. He fought for the underdog. He was a good cowboy, even though he wore a black hat, and he had a horse. Wht were those qualities important?

Eileen was about 13 when she had her first kiss in the Cove. It was memorably awful. The Cove was the outdoor swimming pool in Bray where she and her sister spent every summer as children. How far was the Cove from your house? What went on in the Cove? Who else was there? Their mother would pack a picnic and Eileen would take her four younger sisters there for the whole day. What did you do all day? The less said about that first kiss the better. Why? Who else was involved? What happened next?

In her late teens she had a crush on a guy and thought he liked her too, but then he asked her sister to the debs. She was heartbroken at the time.  What happened next? When was her first serious relationship? How long did it last? Why did it end?

Throughout her life she has moved around a lot. Why did she move a lot? Where did the moves take her? Eileen has never felt much attachment to place so moving didn’t bother her too much. Why is she not attached to places? She lived in Braemor Road until just before her 9th birthday and in Bray until she was 21. After that, she never spent longer than 5 years anywhere, until she moved back to Galway in 1996. What brought her back to Galway? When was she there before? Why did she leave?

Eileen also spent about 10 months working in Manchester. How did she end up in Manchester? She left her ‘permanent and pensionable’ job in the bank at 22 because she was totally frustrated. What was her job in the bank/ How did her family feel about her resignation? She felt there was something she was supposed to be doing to help the world. What made her feel like that? What did she want to do? She worked for her keep in a hostel for ‘emotionally disturbed adolescent girls’ in Manchester. What did the work involve? Who else lived there? Why did she leave? That’s when she first really saw the healing power of horses at work. How did that happen? What is the healing power of horses?

Eileen got married in 1986. Did she have other relationships before then? Who with? What happened? How and where did she meet her husband? Where did he work? Where did they live? What attracted her to him? and her son was born in 87. What was it like becoming a mother for the first time? How did life change?

In 1989 her daughter was born. What was it like having two very young children? Did they get on with each other as they grew up? Were there any serious accidents or illnesses? Where are they now?

Her son’s first daughter came along in 2016, and his second in 2018. Her grandchildren call her Ireland Nanny. What was it like becoming a grandmother? How often does she see her grandchildren? How does being a grandparent differ from being a parent?

Her son and daughter called her Eileen until they started school and everyone else’s mother was called Mom – so she became Mom too. Why were her children calling her by her first name? Her eldest granddaughter named her Ireland Nanny to differentiate her from her other Nanny and it stuck! What did she want her grandchildren to call her?

As Eileen got older, she felt the lack of a formal qualification held her back from applying for positions – but she has no regrets about the path she took. What positions? Why does she not have regrets? She always found a way to pursue whatever job she wanted – even if she has a habit of doing things backwards. What kind of jobs did she have? Often, Eileen would get a job, work her way into a senior position and then go and get the qualifications she should have had to be there. Like what?

Eileen didn’t start 3rd level education until she was in her 50’s. When she finished secondary school, she needed to go to work to help support the family. Why did she need to contribute? Granny Urell had been willing to pay for her to go to college, but only if she did Teaching. She had no interest in being a teacher so her first act of rebellion was to refuse her offer. How was that decision received? What did she do after school if she didn’t go to college?

Eileen really loved learning and had a deep hunger for knowledge. How did that show up in her life? She always felt that she’d missed out by not going to college. How did that feeling affect her? In her 50’s, she had been working as an unqualified riding instructor for many years when a new training course for equestrian coaches became available. Where was she working? How did she get the job? What was it like? She applied, was accepted and remembered how much she loved learning new things. What did she love about learning new things?

Then her brother-in-law encouraged Eileen to apply for a Master in Writing as a mature student. She was accepted and earned a 1.1. How was college life? What challenges came with starting university as a mature student?

After the Master’s finished, Eileen knew she had to keep learning. Why did she love learning? She was lucky in that courses appeared to help her along the path. She passed every course with high marks and is now qualified in Therapeutic Horse-riding Coaching, Equine-assisted Learning Facilitation, Disability Awareness, Personal Development, Training Trainers, Leadership Skills, Managing People, WRAP, Mindfulness and First Aid – and more!. Eileen has just finished a Level 9 post-grad in Mental Health Promotion. How have these qualifications helped her? When will she finish studying?

Honesty and integrity are her core values. How have those values supported her? Her father always told me that if she’s honest in her dealings with the world, she can’t go wrong – especially when being honest is not the easy thing to do. When was being honest not the easy thing to do? If those values are challenged, she feels threatened but more determined to uphold them. What challenges them? Lack of honesty and integrity – especially when she sees it in people in positions of trust or power – really offends her and she gets quite puritanical about it. In what way?

She has learned to create her own personal rules. What are her rules? Because Eileen missed out on a lot of direction during childhood, the rules she lives by are ones she has created for herself – all based on being honest and true. She loves the Shakespeare quote ‘this above all, to thine own self be true for it must follow – as the night the day – thou canst not then be false to any man.’ She also loves the ‘Golden Rule’ which basically says treat people as you would like to be treated. How would she like to be treated?

Galway is her favourite place now because she loves her work here and the pace of life suits her. What’s suits her about the pace of life? Eileen first came to Galway in 1968 when she was 13. She won a scholarship to spend 3 months learning Irish in Connemara. From the moment she got off the train, she knew she would live there someday. It had a familiar and very comfortable energy. What was her 3 months in Connemara like? She came back to Galway in 1980 for a holiday and has been here since – with a few interruptions. What brought her to Galway for a holiday? What did she do when she stayed on after her holiday? What has she been doing since? What and when were the interruptions? She loves her work with Horses Connect. It helps her to stay grounded and feel useful. What is Horses Connect? How did she get there? What is her work? How does it help her feel grounded and useful?

Her favourite place to visit is Australia. Eileen’s son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren live near Melbourne and she visits as often as possible. She doesn’t mind the long journey at all, especially if she can travel alone. Why does she prefer to travel alone? Her dream is to be able to travel first class and stay as long as she wants! How long would she like to stay?

Her happy place is definitely Rosadale – the property her Australian family live on. She feels that there’s something beautiful about the energy of the place as soon as you drive through the gate. She would never ask to leave when she’s there. What is it about Rosadale that makes her happy? What does she mean by ‘energy’?

When Eileen is daydreaming, her mind wanders to Rosadale. It’s a beautiful place, but not really in the physical sense. Her soul is at peace there. What is she doing in Rosadale when she’s daydreaming? Who else is there?

Eileen is reasonably happy at the moment. What would it take for her to be more happy? She’s a glass half full person and always look for something good in every situation – thanks to Pollyanna’s father! What did Pollyanna’s father do? There is plenty of room for improvement in all areas! What would that look like? If Eileen didn’t feel like there was room for improvement there would be no point getting up every day. What keeps her motivated?

In 5 years, she plans to have the freedom to be, do and have what she wants, whenever she wants! That boils down to health and wealth How does she plan to achieve that? What does freedom mean?

Physically, Eileen thinks she was at her best in her mid-20’s. Where was she and what was she doing? She was strong and fit and full ideas, with the energy to be creative. How did she use her strength, fitness and energy to be creative? She has grown and matured and earned a lot of wisdom since then.  Where did the wisdom come from? What was her greatest lesson? Eileen is still full of ideas and creativity and curiosity but she’s a bit slower to jump into projects. Why is she slower? Most – if not all –of her life lessons have been learned the hard way. What has been the greatest lesson and how was it learned? She’s never been great at taking instructions and has always wanted to try things out for herself. How did that impact on her life? Eileen has touched a lot of wet paint and electric fences! How has that influenced her life?

Eileen works really hard to anything she’s interested in and gives 200% – until it starts to feel routine (like work). As soon as a project starts to feel that it’s not a challenge anymore, she needs to find a new project. What projects has she been involved in and left? What prompted her to leave?

Eileen has a sense that she is going to live into her 90’s and be active, involved and useful right to the end. Where does that sense come from? She never wants to have to be minded by anyone, or to be considered a burden. Why not? How does she define being a burden? She can see herself gently falling asleep for the last time in a garden, in the sunshine, with the sound of children laughing and playing in the background. Why is that appealing?

Logical sequence

EXAMPLE 1 – CHAPTER HEADINGS

EB – BABY BOOMER

Eileen was born on January 12th, 1955. It was a Wednesday in the middle of the Baby Boomer era. What was the Baby Boomer era? Why was it called that? What was the world like then?

EB – NAMES

Eileen has always felt that her name is a bit old-fashioned and that it never fully belonged to her. The only other people she knew with her name were adults. Her parents called her after somebody else so it didn’t feel original enough. What’s so important to her about feeling original?

Bennett is her birth name and she likes it. The Bennetts were well-respected and her father always taught me that it was a name to be proud of. How did the Bennetts earn their respect?

EB – ORIGINS

Eileen’s family came from West Cork. There’s a T-junction in the village. What’s the name of the village? What was it like? The Bennett’s had a shop on one side of the road and the Urells had a pub on the other side. Her father was born on the Bennett side. Her mother was born in Wicklow but the Urells in Cork were first cousins. Urell is an unusual name.t Where did they came from? How did her parents meet?

EB – EDUCATION

She started Junior Infants in St Anne’s, Milltown when she was 4.1/2. This was the first of 4 schools Why did she move school? Where did she move to? What was that like? she attended before she left formal education at 17. Why did she leave formal education at 17? What did she do next?

Eileen started in St Anne’s in Milltown because she was living in Dublin. When she moved to Wicklow Why did they move to Wicklow? What part?  in December 1964 she started in St Patrick’s in Bray, but moved to St Brigid’s in Kilcoole in September 1965. Why did she move schools so quickly? From there, Eileen went to Secondary School in St David’s in Greystones. They were all Catholic schools and there were a lot of nuns, but the numbers dwindled as she went through school. What memories does she have of school days?

She was 17 when she left St David’s after her Leaving Cert. She wanted to study veterinary or journalism but wasn’t allowed. Why was she attracted to those areas of study? Why was she not allowed to pursue them? They wanted her to be a teacher, but Eileen didn’t like children, so she went to work. Who were ‘they’ and why did they have such power? Why did she dislike children? It was important at that time for her to work because her mother needed financial help with her four younger sisters. How was her mother supporting the family?

As Eileen got older, she felt the lack of a formal qualification held her back from applying for positions – but she has no regrets about the path she took. What positions? Why does she not have regrets? She always found a way to pursue whatever job she wanted – even if she has a habit of doing things backwards. What kind of jobs did she have? Often, Eileen would get a job, work her way into a senior position and then go and get the qualifications she should have had to be there. Like what?

Eileen didn’t start 3rd level education until she was in her 50’s. When she finished secondary school, she needed to go to work to help support the family. Why did she need to contribute? Granny Urell had been willing to pay for her to go to college, but only if she did Teaching. She had no interest in being a teacher so her first act of rebellion was to refuse her offer. How was that decision received? What did she do after school if she didn’t go to college?

Eileen really loved learning and had a deep hunger for knowledge. How did that show up in her life? She always felt that she’d missed out by not going to college. How did that feeling affect her? In her 50’s, she had been working as an unqualified riding instructor for many years when a new training course for equestrian coaches became available. Where was she working? How did she get the job? What was it like? She applied, was accepted and remembered how much she loved learning new things. What did she love about learning new things?

Then her brother-in-law encouraged Eileen to apply for a Master in Writing as a mature student. She was accepted and earned a 1.1. How was college life? What challenges came with starting university as a mature student?

After the Master’s finished, Eileen knew she had to keep learning. Why did she love learning? She was lucky in that courses appeared to help her along the path. She passed every course with high marks and is now qualified in Therapeutic Horse-riding Coaching, Equine-assisted Learning Facilitation, Disability Awareness, Personal Development, Training Trainers, Leadership Skills, Managing People, WRAP, Mindfulness and First Aid – and more!. Eileen has just finished a Level 9 post-grad in Mental Health Promotion. How have these qualifications helped her? When will she finish studying?

EB – FATHER’S DEATH

Her father died when she was seven. He had a heart attack when he was 47. His health wasn’t good because he’d had a hard time in the war. What war? What was he doing there? How did it damage his health?

Eileen and her sister were in West Cork with family when he died so everything was over by the time they got back to Dublin. Why was she in West Cork with her sister? Where was the rest of the family? He was just not there anymore. What was that like? How did it affect you?

Being the eldest brought a lot of responsibility and pressure as she was growing up. What kind of pressure and responsibility? After her father died, Eileen’s relationship with her mother changed and she became more of a partner than a child. In what way? She took her role as big sister very seriously. She was frequently told (by other adults, not by her mother) that it was her responsibility to set a good example and to make sure that none of her sisters did anything to upset their mother. How did she manage that?

EB – PLACES

Her first memory of a place is her family home in Braemor Rd in Dublin. Eileen doesn’t remember a time before Braemor Road. Where did she live before Braemor Rd? She thinks she was around 2 when they moved in. She remembers that the back garden was a mess. The grass was long, like a field. She remembers when it was all dug up and they put grass seed on it and weren’t allowed to play on it for weeks. She remembers helping to build the rockery and planting heathers between the stones. Who else was there then? There are very happy memories associated with that house, but some very sad ones too. What are the sad memories? Happy memories include playing with friends in the garden or on the street or in each other’s houses. Her tricycle, roller skates, Cowboys and Indians, cap guns, going to the local shop. Who did she play with? What kind of games did they play? What was her favourite game?

Eileen and her family lived in the house for just over 2 years after her father died in 1962 and things were different for those years. How were they different?

Throughout her life she has moved around a lot. Why did she move a lot? Where did the moves take her? Eileen has never felt much attachment to place so moving didn’t bother her too much. Why is she not attached to places? She lived in Braemor Road until just before her 9th birthday and in Bray until she was 21. After that, she never spent longer than 5 years anywhere, until she moved back to Galway in 1996. What brought her back to Galway? When was she there before? Why did she leave?

Galway is her favourite place now because she loves her work here and the pace of life suits her. What’s suits her about the pace of life? Eileen first came to Galway in 1968 when she was 13. She won a scholarship to spend 3 months learning Irish in Connemara. From the moment she got off the train, she knew she would live there someday. It had a familiar and very comfortable energy. What was her 3 months in Connemara like? She came back to Galway in 1980 for a holiday and has been here since – with a few interruptions. What brought her to Galway for a holiday? What did she do when she stayed on after her holiday? What has she been doing since? What and when were the interruptions? She loves her work with Horses Connect. It helps her to stay grounded and feel useful. What is Horses Connect? How did she get there? What is her work? How does it help her feel grounded and useful?

Her favourite place to visit is Australia. Eileen’s son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren live near Melbourne and she visits as often as possible. She doesn’t mind the long journey at all, especially if she can travel alone. Why does she prefer to travel alone? Her dream is to be able to travel first class and stay as long as she wants! How long would she like to stay?

Her happy place is definitely Rosadale – the property her Australian family live on. She feels that there’s something beautiful about the energy of the place as soon as you drive through the gate. She would never ask to leave when she’s there. What is it about Rosadale that makes her happy? What does she mean by ‘energy’?

When Eileen is daydreaming, her mind wanders to Rosadale. It’s a beautiful place, but not really in the physical sense. Her soul is at peace there. What is she doing in Rosadale when she’s daydreaming? Who else is there?

EB – RELATIONSHIPS

As a child, Eileen thought that The Virginian had everything anyone could want in a man. When did she first see The Virginian? He was kind. He helped people. He fought for the underdog. He was a good cowboy, even though he wore a black hat, and he had a horse. Wht were those qualities important?

Eileen was about 13 when she had her first kiss in the Cove. It was memorably awful. The Cove was the outdoor swimming pool in Bray where she and her sister spent every summer as children. How far was the Cove from your house? What went on in the Cove? Who else was there? Their mother would pack a picnic and Eileen would take her four younger sisters there for the whole day. What did you do all day? The less said about that first kiss the better. Why? Who else was involved? What happened next?

In her late teens she had a crush on a guy and thought he liked her too, but then he asked her sister to the debs. She was heartbroken at the time.  What happened next? When was her first serious relationship? How long did it last? Why did it end?

Eileen got married in 1986. Did she have other relationships before then? Who with? What happened? How and where did she meet her husband? Where did he work? Where did they live? What attracted her to him? and her son was born in 87. What was it like becoming a mother for the first time? How did life change?

In 1989 her daughter was born. What was it like having two very young children? Did they get on with each other as they grew up? Were there any serious accidents or illnesses? Where are they now?

Her son’s first daughter came along in 2016, and his second in 2018. Her grandchildren call her Ireland Nanny. What was it like becoming a grandmother? How often does she see her grandchildren? How does being a grandparent differ from being a parent?

Her son and daughter called her Eileen until they started school and everyone else’s mother was called Mom – so she became Mom too. Why were her children calling her by her first name? Her eldest granddaughter named her Ireland Nanny to differentiate her from her other Nanny and it stuck! What did she want her grandchildren to call her?

EB – WORK

Eileen also spent about 10 months working in Manchester. How did she end up in Manchester? She left her ‘permanent and pensionable’ job in the bank at 22 because she was totally frustrated. What was her job in the bank? How did her family feel about her resignation? She felt there was something she was supposed to be doing to help the world. What made her feel like that? What did she want to do? She worked for her keep in a hostel for ‘emotionally disturbed adolescent girls’ in Manchester. What did the work involve? Who else lived there? Why did she leave? That’s when she first really saw the healing power of horses at work. How did that happen? What is the healing power of horses?

Eileen’s first paid job was babysitting, when she was 12 and she’s been working ever since, so that’s 53 years. What other jobs has she had?

Eileen works really hard to anything she’s interested in and gives 200% – until it starts to feel routine (like work). As soon as a project starts to feel that it’s not a challenge anymore, she needs to find a new project. What projects has she been involved in and left? What prompted her to leave?

EB – CHARACTER

Honesty and integrity are her core values. How have those values supported her? Her father always told me that if she’s honest in her dealings with the world, she can’t go wrong – especially when being honest is not the easy thing to do. When was being honest not the easy thing to do? If those values are challenged, she feels threatened but more determined to uphold them. What challenges them? Lack of honesty and integrity – especially when she sees it in people in positions of trust or power – really offends her and she gets quite puritanical about it. In what way?

She has learned to create her own personal rules. What are her rules? Because Eileen missed out on a lot of direction during childhood, the rules she lives by are ones she has created for herself – all based on being honest and true. She loves the Shakespeare quote ‘this above all, to thine own self be true for it must follow – as the night the day – thou canst not then be false to any man.’ She also loves the ‘Golden Rule’ which basically says treat people as you would like to be treated. How would she like to be treated?

Eileen is reasonably happy at the moment. What would it take for her to be more happy? She’s a glass half full person and always look for something good in every situation – thanks to Pollyanna’s father! What did Pollyanna’s father do? There is plenty of room for improvement in all areas! What would that look like? If Eileen didn’t feel like there was room for improvement there would be no point getting up every day. What keeps her motivated?

Physically, Eileen thinks she was at her best in her mid-20’s. Where was she and what was she doing? She was strong and fit and full ideas, with the energy to be creative. How did she use her strength, fitness and energy to be creative? She has grown and matured and earned a lot of wisdom since then.  Where did the wisdom come from? What was her greatest lesson? Eileen is still full of ideas and creativity and curiosity but she’s a bit slower to jump into projects. Why is she slower? Most – if not all –of her life lessons have been learned the hard way. What has been the greatest lesson and how was it learned? She’s never been great at taking instructions and has always wanted to try things out for herself. How did that impact on her life? Eileen has touched a lot of wet paint and electric fences! How has that influenced her life?

EB – FUTURE

In 5 years, she plans to have the freedom to be, do and have what she wants, whenever she wants! That boils down to health and wealth How does she plan to achieve that? What does freedom mean?

Eileen has a sense that she is going to live into her 90’s and be active, involved and useful right to the end. Where does that sense come from? She never wants to have to be minded by anyone, or to be considered a burden. Why not? How does she define being a burden? She can see herself gently falling asleep for the last time in a garden, in the sunshine, with the sound of children laughing and playing in the background. Why is that appealing?

Exercise 2

Now that your work is organised in a logical, readable way, with as much information as possible included, you have a set of basic facts about a life. However, we still know little of our subject’s feelings about the many and varied elements of their life.

The next step is to add more depth and colour by including the person’s unique personality, their sense of humour and their take on the world by exploring the emotions associated with the facts. This is where you begin to add details. The simplest way to do this is to chose one of the sequences and start asking about opposites.

For example:

  • What did you like most about school? What did you like least?
  • When were you happiest? What was your saddest time?
  • Who was your best friend at school? Who did you not like at all?
  • What was the highest point of your career? What was the lowest?

Exercise 3

You now have a basic collection of the personal facts and feelings that comprise a life.

Your last task in this Starter Program is to tidy it all up and decide how to present it.

It can be a good idea to have somebody check your work for flow, typos and repetitions. At this stage, fresh eyes are helpful, BUT having somebody else read your work carries huge risks.

It is vital not to allow the person you ask to read your work to do anything more than check that it makes sense and has no spelling errors.

DEATH BY EDITING is a real danger here!

DEATH BY EDITING is the mortal enemy of DON’T GET IT RIGHT. GET IT WRITTEN!

It works by planting a tiny seed of doubt in your mind that ultimately leads to you abandoning the project and leaving the story untold. It is to be avoided at all costs.

An imperfect personal story is much better than an untold story.

How you present your life story to your chosen audience is personal choice. My story is for family and close friends only. I will add relevant photographs to the different sections – people, places, pets, concert tickets etc. When I feel it’s finished, I will save it as a PDF and send a soft copy to anyone interested.

Most life stories are not extra-ordinary enough to be of interest to a publisher, but that does not make them any less worth telling. The good news is you don’t need an agent, a publisher or a book deal to produce a book. There are plenty of print-on-demand services available. A quick Google search will find them.

The key is to ensure than you finish this Write a Life Starter Program with the story of a life preserved.

FINAL THOUGHTS

No one of us should leave this world without a record of our unique contribution to it.

Every single one of us contributes in some way.

Every life touches and impacts on other lives.

We are all wonderfully different, and that makes us interesting.

There are opportunities to learn from others everywhere.

Life is not perfect so there is no need for the storytelling to be perfect either.

Be genuinely interested in hearing the person’s voice – not just nosy!

If you’re writing somebody else’s story IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Listen carefully and kindly, without adding your own opinion.

Don’t get it right. GET IT WRITTEN!

A life remembered lves forever …