The first part of this series discussed the reasons people put off writing their life stories. Consider the following statement by President Kimball:
“People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you, that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspirations to your families, to your children, your grandchildren and others, on through the generations…Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us.”
Now it’s time to get your thoughts down on paper. There are several ways to do this. One of the best ways to do this is by brainstorming. Variations on brainstorming include mind-mapping, clustering, or the bubble method, which is the one I prefer.
For any one of these techniques, you’ll need a large piece of paper about 24 x 18 if you can find it. Printer paper is too small. A big tablet of newsprint or a drawing tablet works well. Look in the dollar stores for the large drawing pads for kids—the bigger the paper, the better. Use colored pencils, crayons or colored pens. Markers are a little messy but can be used as well. The point is to use color and print by hand. Printing is easier to read than messy cursive, and using colors and printing are said to help stimulate the brain.
Begin by drawing a circle in the center of the page. Make ten lines straight out from the circle, like a rough drawing of the sun. In the center circle print My Life, Life Stories, Story Ideas or some working idea. Without censoring your thoughts, print ten topics at the top of each line and circle them. Some topic ideas for consideration might be Early Years, School Days, Jobs, Mission, Parents, and Travel. You should have a topic for every line. If you think of more topics, draw more lines. Each topic can become a subject on its own. When that happens, get another sheet of paper, draw the circle and lines again and put the subject in the middle and make a subject for each line. If this subject is school, for example, you can make topics for grade school, high school, college, sports, and so on.
Be free with your thinking and write as many thoughts as you can. You may decide not to use all the thoughts you wrote or you may decide to combine them and put them under a different bubble. These bubbles might turn into chapters in your life story.
Once you’ve bubbled your thoughts, it’s time to start organizing them in order like chapters in a book—more on that in the next issue!