Here are more tips on how to write personal family history for your kids:
8. Tell A Story. Your toddler is venturing his first steps, wobbling, about to keel over. Right away we wonder what will happen next. Will he make it across the room? The suspense is killing us. We’re rooting for the kid now. In doing my journals, I sometimes looked for an issue, a conflict, a turning point, a decision. Michael kept getting ear infections, for example. I looked, too, for signs of growth, of a change in character, of a coming to terms. Then I might try to translate events into some kind of insight. As in: “Only then did I realize . . . ” I’ve always believed that what counts is less a matter of what you know than what you make of what you know.
9. Make Every Word Count. See # 7 (Briefer Is Better). This philosophy is worth underscoring twice. Ever sentence should advance the overall cause. Nobody expects you to nail every single detail – only the right ones, the ones that are essential.
10. Anyone Can Write. I know that sounds like lip service, so let me clarify. Everyone has stories to tell. Every life has its drama. All of us are inherently more interesting than we probably realize. And nobody knows your story better than you. Do you have to be a writer? No. It comes down to harnessing the memories we all have within us to honor our heritages.
Now for two bonus tips, free of charge:
11. Lend Yourself A Hand. I wrote the journals by hand. The handwritten comes across as more personal than anything typed – more organic, more authentic. Words written carry a primal quality that harks back to stories told on cave walls.
12. Keep Secrets. I gave my kids the journals as surprise Christmas gifts. Keeping a lid on the news made the project much more fun for me.
P.S. – So what do you think? Ready to take action?