Writing the Story of Your Life: Reminiscence Writing

Tutor: Dr.ALEC GILL MBE Author, broadcaster, historian, Academic, video producer and public speaker.

Reminiscence Writing: of all the five topics highlighted on my website, is the only one I was invited to undertake - the others came from my own calling. But the subject is a good one because (a) it involves a historical aspect; (b) centres upon 'what makes people tick'; and (c) involves writing.

NOTE: Audrey and I still do lots of things together; but we no longer present this course (since 2002). And, unfortunately, we have no plans to do so in the future - we have moved on into different areas. Nevertheless, I feel that this teaching material is still a very good basis for anyone in the world to use as a 'springboard' to write their own life story. You are welcome to use any of this material as you wish and, if you felt it appropriate, then you could always give a little note of acknowledgement in the footnote of your memoirs when it gets published.
Reflecting about ones life (at any age) is therapeutic as long as the individual does not dwell in the past, but learns lessons in life from it in order to enjoy the present and look forward positively to the future.

Songs are very useful in the process of reminiscing. One such is "Some day I'm goanna write, the story of my life". How many times have these popular lyrics run through your head, you agreed with the sentiment, but did nothing about it? This website material is designed to encourage you to put pen to paper. "To start is to half finish the job" - is what my mother often said. I used to conduct a successful 20-week reminiscence workshop at the University of Hull (Centre for LifeLong Learning) for several years (1994-2002). As author of six books, six DvDs and countless national articles, this writing advice offers fresh ideas about 'form and content'. The poem I Remember When... by Maisie Turner puts the need to write family reminiscences into a wider perspective before it's too late.

Former Workshop OUTLINE:

 Purpose / Structure. / Benefits.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: Jog the memory; set out your life history; contrast between 'form' and 'content'. Dig out family albums. A list of suggested topics is presented to Spark Off Memories.

BEGINNING, MIDDLE & END: Creating order out of chaos; putting pen to paper; does reminiscence writing need a plot? A guiding principle - when writing - is "It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it" or write in our case.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ENGLISH: The origins of our Mother Tongue provide us with a rich linguistic inheritance.

WRITING SKILLS: A few basic rules of grammar; figures of speech; punctuation; common errors.

FAMILY LIFE & SOCIAL HISTORY: How does your family's past relate to wider social events?

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? This course is but a launch-pad. Hopefully, you will write your memoirs on a regular basis - little by little every week (work out your own timetable). The seeds of yesterday will tomorrow grow.

The Reminiscence page was last updated on 03 June 2011