Getting to the essence of a life story can be a daunting task. And any writer will tell you that the editing cycle is the most challenging part. But does it need to be that way?
I’ve encouraged you to collect your memories or the memories of a loved one, to record them and get them transcribed. Now you need to deal with a big pile of words as you get to the essence of the story. Before you begin, make digital copies of all the transcription documents and file it. This way as you move things around you’re not worrying about making a mess of the original transcriptions.
Three Key Steps I regularly use:
- Organize the story into chronological order. Our minds do jump around when storytelling and it’s easy for things to get out of order. Make a new word document for each specific chapter or focus area such as; Early Years, Young Adult, Education, Work (first jobs, career), Love, Marriage, Family, Travel, Accomplishments, Adventures, Volunteering…the number of chapters in one’s life can be long and wonderful. Copy all the stories of each time frame from the original transcriptions into the chapter documents.
- Time to get deep into the edit cycle. Open yet another new blank word document for each chapter. Go through the chapters and copy and paste onto the new (blank) document any specific stories that stand out. Think about this whole process as funnelling and filtering. You are constantly working to get to the essence of the story. Think about the voice of who is telling the story and be consistent. Are you writing in the first person or third person?
- Enjoy the process and practice mindfulness while reliving past memories. If you’re editing a story about someone else, put a photo of them nearby, make a cup of tea and have a good visit. Continue refining the story, creating a natural flow between the different elements. This is the most time consuming part and will definitely take multiple cups of tea. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.
As you edit, also think about the next key part, the visuals. Any ideas you have, make a note either within the story document or on a separate sheet. Adding good visuals to the story will make it compelling to read and share. Be careful not to get drawn into looking for photos, which can easily take hours. That is it’s own process separate from editing – we will get there! Of course if you need support with the editing cycle, we are here to help.
Remember when I asked you how many places you had lived? People have reported back and it seems we have a few gypsy’s in our midst. Lillie has lived in 48 homes plus a few floaters! And Jane has lived in 36 places. I had thought that Heather was the most nomadic one at 30 places but it seems she has company. Have you created a list of all the places you’ve lived? Let me know.
I’m excited to announce that my website is now live. We are still adding past blog images & stories which means it’s a work in progress. Take a minute and check it out – your feedback is appreciated. Thanks for following along and if you enjoy this newsletter I would be so grateful if you shared it with your friends and family.