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But where do I start?

"I want to write my autobiography ..." or memoirs, or life story "... but I just don't know where to start."

It's probably the hardest thing about writing. Just deciding what to tell, where to start, what is important, how to organize the whole thing can be downright daunting. Staring at a blank piece of paper or a computer screen with absolutely nothing on your mind is easy compared to trying to sort through a whirlwind of ideas, seemingly unrelated memories and images.

So, here are a few hints.

  • Just start. Yes, just write something down. Anything. Just start.

  • Don’t worry about chronological or logical order. Start anywhere. With today’s technology, it is easy to paste together or rearrange content.

  • Keep something handy to jot down ideas wherever you might be: doctor’s office, sitting at a red light, waking during the night, doing yard work or the dishes. As ideas pop into your head of things you want to include, jot a few words to remind you.

  • Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, complete sentences, or even idea flow as you begin to write. You can address that later when you revise. Just get some content down.

  • Try to remember and include not only the facts (I got my tonsils out in first grade …), but the sensory and emotional feelings that went with those facts (My throat hurt, but I didn’t care. Whenever I complained, the nurse brought me a Popsicle. I got lots of presents. I thought being in the hospital was great fun.).

  • Be honest. You weren’t always perfect; it took you a while to get where you are now. If someone treated you badly, say so. (You can decide later what to leave out.)

  • Read my blog to see what idea generators I might have for you. When one works well, use it again with a twist. For example, if you were successful in writing about your memories of your dad, try the same technique for Mom or siblings. Or grandparents. Or your first-grade teacher. Or best friend.

Okay, are we good to go? Start writing. Anywhere. Just start.

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