Tips for Living: 'Memories of Me' describes how to connect with family members by preserving, sharing stories

By Katherine Kitterman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, June 19 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014 5:08 p.m. MDT

In “Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life,” (Cedar Fort, $16.99), author Laura Hedgecock provides practical advice and helpful examples for sharing your life experience with your family. The inspiration for this guide sprang from the "Treasure Chest of Memories," a notebook filled with her grandmother’s writings from which she’s drawn comfort, strength and a sense of connection. Hedgecock’s guide provides an outline to help others create treasure chests of memories to cement connections and spark conversations within their own families.

The book includes practical instructions, worksheets and examples to spark memory and creativity and general writing tips. Here are a few of Hedgecock’s pointers:

Determine audience and purpose. Asking what to preserve and why can help a person figure out how to move forward. Deciding on the format for a treasure chest to take can be a motivation to get started without allowing planning to curb creativity.

Make writing a habit and a priority. Scheduling time to write when it's possible to be focused and be productive. Set realistic goals and rewards to keep working even when the inspiration isn’t flowing.

Tickle memories. Create literary snapshots of important people, places or events by writing a few lines of “things I want to remember.” Use visual cues to get memories going — photos, souvenirs, papers, etc. It can also be helpful to keep an idea bank to capture ideas as they come.

Write about hard times. Don’t hold back memories of difficult experiences. Writing about these times can be therapeutic. Sharing vulnerable moments helps connect writers with readers and can help them understand the emotional contours of one's life.

Show, don’t tell. Avoid summarizing and allow stories to unfold naturally. Showing the lessons of a particular experience through a narrative will bring memories to life and keep stories from sounding contrived. Consider writing it as a letter to a friend, which may help to make writing more spontaneous and casual.

Katherine Kitterman hails from Flagstaff, Arizona, and is a two-time graduate of Brigham Young University. She currently works at the LDS Church History Library and can be reached at katherine.kitterman@gmail.com.

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