Mapping Your Life

Mapping Your Life

Madison Magazine and I teamed up to offer one lucky reader the chance to see his or her life story become a book. While you wait to hear the winner announced, why not start writing down the stories of your life?

I often encourage memoir writers to begin by creating a simple life timeline, noting each major transition. Just reflect on your life’s branching points—the moments when something happened and afterward, things were never the same.

How did your life’s branching points shape you? Telling these stories reveals what you are made of.

With your timeline, you’re ready to start writing. Begin anywhere you like! Some branching points are pleasanter than others—winning a trip to Paris beats a divorce any day.
If you begin writing about branching points that you recall with satisfaction, you’ll have the pleasure of dropping back into an enjoyable moment in your life when you write. You’ll enjoy the work, and look forward to getting back to it soon.

For your first writing session, set a goal of completing a first draft of one story about a branching point, from opening facts through memory to a conclusion that shows how the event affected the course of your life.

If you have 15 minutes available, you have enough time to write down a memory. Later you can add the details about people, places, and actions that breath life into your memoir. In upcoming posts, I’ll show you how.

Sarah White is the founder of First Person Productions.