Four Reasons Not to Write Down Your Life Story

Most of my father’s life story is lost forever.  I always meant to write it down, and he always said he would do it—but when we finally made time to do it together, he died not long after we started.  I would give a king’s ransom to know more details about his life before we kids came along.

I’ve heard lots of reasons for not writing down your life story…

Make Instant Discoveries in Your Family Tree Now
Imagine adding your family tree to a simple website and getting hundreds of new family history discoveries instantly.

MyHeritage is offering 2 free weeks of access to their extensive collection of 12 billion historical records, as well as their matching technology that instantly connects you with new information about your ancestors. Sign up using the link below to find out what you can uncover about your family.

1.  “I don’t know what to write about.”

A good list of questions solves that problem.  Those kind of lists are all over the internet and in books at the bookstore.  I have one which I give to clients and family members.  If a person starts with a good list, then it’s as simple as this:  (a) write down your thoughts about each question that interests you; (b) skip the ones that don’t; (c) throw in anything else that you think of along the way; and (d) the job is done!

2.  “I’m not a very good writer/speller.”

Advertisement

That’s like saying, “I’m not a very good mechanic, so I’m not going to drive a car.”  The fact is, we get help with the things we’re not good at.  One of my favorite things is editing.  That means taking someone else’s rough thoughts and “cleaning them up” and “making them pretty.”  Everyone knows someone (or can hire someone) who is good at that.   But if you don’t, write down your story anyway!  A rough diamond is much better than no diamond.

3.  “I never did anything interesting, so it would be boring.”

My mother’s life consisted of growing up on a farm, getting married, and being a housewife for the rest of her life.  My husband’s mother’s life was the same.  But when people who love them read the life stories that I helped them write, those stories are more precious than gold.  Details that may seem boring to the writer, are fascinating to us who didn’t live in those times.  And so often, the better we understand our parents and grandparents, the more we love them.

Get the Free Genealogy Newsletter

We'll email you our newest family history articles, tips and tricks each week. It's always free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

4.  “I’m not a very good typist.”

In the computer era, good typists are a dime a dozen.  Every child can type these days.  If you can write, someone else can type!  So write down your story, or dictate it to someone, or type it if you can—but don’t let it be forever lost.

So please, grandmas and grandpas, mothers and fathers, write out your memories for us!  It doesn’t have to be perfect or professional—just do the best you can.  We want to know what has made you the person you are.  We want to see the world as you saw it, before we were born.  We want to walk a mile in your shoes.  We don’t want these stories to die with you.  Share your lives with us!  We want you to.

Get Our Articles By Email Each Week

Stay up-to-date with Family History Daily's newest genealogy articles by subscribing to our free weekly newsletter.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
12 Billion Genealogy Records Are Free for 2 Weeks
Get two full weeks of free access to more than 12 billion genealogy records right now. You’ll also gain access to the MyHeritage discoveries tool that locates information about your ancestors automatically when you upload or create a tree. What will you discover about your family’s past?

5 thoughts on “Four Reasons Not to Write Down Your Life Story”

  1. Years ago, my son gave me a journal form of the book To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come by Bob Greene and D. L. Filford. I filled that out for myself. Later I found an small edition with only the questions (e.g., no space to answer them). I highly recommend the book. With computers or a recording device, there are alternatives to writing out all by hand. There are 30 chapters with 30-40 questions each, everything from Facts to Food to Moods.

  2. I’ve often said I wish my grandparents or great grands had written about very ordinary things – what they wore, what they ate, how they got where they were going that day. Boring. And so valuable.
    Thanks for an inspiring post.

  3. I’d love to have some stories from my grandparents and great grandparents. And I wouldn’t care what their spelling was like, whether they typed or wrote with pencil, and whether it was on the back of envelopes, lined notepaper, or what. To know how they felt or what they were experiencing would be priceless. So, now I’m trying to write a little vignette about something, anything, a few times a year, so that my descendants will have some idea of me rather than just dates.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Beginners' Guides

Whether you’re brand new to family history research or just want some help with the basics, our beginners’ guides - including our Family Tree Starter Guide - have the expert information you need.

Online Courses

Discover how to build your best family tree with our online courses. Learn with detailed tutorials, expert guides, hands-on lessons, quizzes and much more. Your registration never expires.

Free Genealogy

Billions of free genealogy records are available online, you just need to know how to find them. We’ve made the job easy with lists and guides to help you discover the records you need.

Send this to a friend