Tom and I talk and teach about this all the time: the importance of story. In our classes and presentations, in webinars, and with our clients, we encourage people to think deeper when writing life stories. Find the point of the story! Get to the emotional core! Avoid boring irrelevant detail! Stories are so much more interesting when they are meaningful and have a plot of some sort, an arc! Go for the story, not just an anecdote!
Except that sometimes, that's just too much work. Today I'm going to break my own rule and show you how I made a charming little book for my daughter, who asked me one day what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and '70s. Start to finish, it took me less than a weekend.
This little book, about 30 pages long, is short on story but long on photos. The text is mostly reminiscences; little vignettes of memory and mental snapshots from my childhood that I have tried to translate into words. There is no plot, just a collection of anecdotes, funny photo captions, and lists about my grade school years. Rather than getting out the big custom design guns (Adobe InDesign software, which is what we use to design our books), I went for a simpler template using a photo book tool.
It's not a masterpiece, but it perfectly fit my purpose (to capture a brief and fun glimpse into my childhood), my audience (my daughter Kaitlin), and my scope (my childhood, age 0-12). Easy peasy, and so much fun to take that trip down memory lane!
Nothing heavy or deeply meaningful, this book is intended to be fun. I incorporated memories of historical events (from a child's perspective), but I also included descriptions of the homes we lived in, our special pets, what we did for fun. Even an ode to TV dinners:
Since I was writing it for my daughter, I put in things I knew would amuse her, such as my love of pink frosted lipstick, flower-power wallpaper, and the Partridge Family TV show.
The point is: you don't always have to produce something epic when sharing your stories. You can easily share a few reminiscences, put them together with a few photos, and you're done! Print one or print a hundred, your choice. It's not a replacement for telling the deeper stories of your life, but books like this make great personal gifts for friends and family members. Or maybe even just for yourself, so you can enjoy revisiting your memories.