Is this it? Is 2013 the year that you will start—or complete—your personal history project? If so, we at the Association of Personal Historians wish you the best of luck and offer a few New Year’s Resolutions
Resolve to start.
When is the best time to begin work on your history? Now. Today. As my mother used to say, “Tomorrow never comes because every day has another tomorrow.” Chances are, you’ve been thinking about this for a while—what you want to include, who your intended audience is, what form you would like the project to take. But if you need a few ideas, here are some great tips from APH to get you started.
If you have already begun work on your life story, then…
Resolve to continue.
Many people find that making a commitment to work on a project like this—whether once a day or once a week—makes them more likely to continue. Reward yourself when you have stuck to your plan, but don’t let failure to meet this commitment be an excuse to stop. Don’t punish yourself if you miss a few of your own deadlines—just begin again.
Resolve to make it easy on yourself.
Are you someone who likes to plan everything before you take action? Or are you more a seat-of-the-pants person? Either way works. There are no strict rules when it comes to writing or recording your personal history. Start with whatever comes to mind. Today you may want to write about childhood experiences and tomorrow you may remember a great story from your college years. You don’t have to start with your earliest memory and work your way through to this morning—unless, of course, that’s the method that works best for you!
Wondering what to include in your personal history? The APH Anthology, My Words Are Gonna Linger: The Art of Personal History, has some wonderful examples from the full range of life story writing, from lighthearted stories and deeply felt reminiscence to eyewitness accounts of history. This collection of 49 stories, gathered or written by members of the Association of Personal Historians, also explores the importance of life review and why these stories matter so much. Order your copy here.
Resolve to seek help if needed.
We live in a do-it-yourself society, but let’s face it: you may not be the best person for this job. How can that be? It’s your story, right? We all know that life can get in the way of the best intentions—or the best New Year’s resolutions. A professional personal historian can help in many ways. And hiring a professional means that saving your story will take priority. It will get done—and done in the best possible way. Do you want to save your stories in print, in audio, in video, or in some combination? APH has members who can help you with that. Here’s some advice on how to find the right person for your project.
So what are your plans for 2013? How are you going to start—or complete—your life story project?
About today’s contributor: D. Fran Morley is a freelance writer and editor who frequently teaches workshops in personal history writing. She is Content Editor for the Association of Personal Historians.
2013 image from www.freepsdfile.com