Start Writing Your Story

Studio 5 contributor Courtney Orton talked with a personal historian about some fun ways to get your pen to paper.

Everyone has a story, and everyone even in just a few minutes can pull out those meaningful moments or powerful experiences that make us who we are. The story is there, inside of each of us, but how do we pull it out? How do we get it written down? Katie Shepherd is a personal historian and has a few ideas to help get us started.

Notice what you have on display in your home

“Walk around your house and see the things that are on display,” Shepherd explains, “because if you have an heirloom clock, that means something.”

Then, ask yourself questions like what my home décor say about me does? You’ll be surprised at how much it speaks to your style and your personality. “Maybe you’re a little bit trendy,” says Shepherd, “or maybe you just like the way it looks. Maybe you want to be inspired as you walk around your house. They just say different things about who you are.

Have a box of things.

Shepherd says this is a box filled with keepsakes and souvenirs. “Anything that means something to you that you’re proud of, your accomplishments. The things we hold onto and that we never want to give away because we’re sentimental.”

Once you have that box, you can start writing about what’s in it. Write the story behind the objects and trinkets. Explain why they have value and why you’ve kept them.

“The next generation,” says Shepherd, “isn’t going to care about it unless it has some meaning behind it.”

Go through the letters and cards you’ve saved.

Write about why you’ve kept them, what value they hold to you, or write about the person who wrote. “Those are the things we hold onto. Take them as inspiration,” suggests Shepherd, “write about the value they have.”

Other ways to write your story

Ethical Will: A shorter, easier way to pass on your values and the things which are most important to you. They focus on the lessons you’ve learned and the values you’ve lived by.

Life Tribute: Preserves the impact that a single life can have. At a funeral, the departed life is celebrated and remembered. It’s a fantastic time to collect those memories and do something with them. Have the funeral recording transcribed, add pictures and memories, and you have captured the impact their life had.

Journals: Combine all the scattered journals you have, and get them in one place. Great for a certain period of time like a mission, or as a series of books throughout different periods of life. Add pictures, documents or other important mementos, and you have done your personal history.

Weddings: Everyone has advice to tell a new couple, but it’s seldom remembered in the hustle of the wedding day. Take some time to have it documented, combine it with wedding pictures, and now they can never forget!

Ways to get your children involved

Start journaling with them: Get a notebook and help them write, or let them write their own.

This is Me Journal


Once Upon a Time Journal


Create custom games: Include photos and fun information.

Custom made playing cards

from $24.95

Puzzle Family Tree


S & B Creative


Visit the Cemetery: Take visiting the cemetery with children to the next step with gravestone rubbings. All you need is paper and crayons.

Katie is the founder of Meaningful Moments a company that helps people write their own personal histories.

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