The lights come up. Music from the orchestra swells and, as the curtain rises, an actor begins speaking as the epic Autobiography of You begins.
Unlike journaling which is typically focused on the present, a memoir or an autobiography takes a sweeping look at one’s life. A life with joy, undoubtedly struggle, surely pain, but maybe an end in triumph?
Will you be, as writer Charles Dickens once wrote, the hero of your own life?
You don’t have to write your life’s story for anyone but yourself but it could be written for family, friends, or even the world.
Writing for just yourself could help you clarify the events of your life, maybe admit wrongs, perhaps tell your side of a story. According to the Wall Street Journal, it could even be a catalyst for the rest of your life; a chronicle of how the past brought you to the present. It could be used to change the direction for the future.
Research has shown that the act of writing about past trauma or other stressful events can lessen depression, lower stress, improve mental function, and even help build the immune system. To recount an event, we have to break it down into smaller chunks and look at how one occasion led to another to produce the problems. This helps provide structure and organization to an otherwise frazzled memory. As many memories are just visuals, using words to describe what we are seeing can make our memories less abstract or confusing. Ultimately, the goal is to reveal those memories in a more positive light and let them be processed and laid to rest.
You do not need writing experience to create a narrative of your life. According to Psychology Today, the challenge is getting the story to reveal itself. Even if a person’s life doesn’t seem to be particularly exciting or thought-provoking, everyone remembers things differently and telling the story will let them know which part of the memory was most important to them. Finding meaning in the past is a great way to help believe in one’s personal value, confess mistakes, and pass on lessons to children and future generations.