When was the last time you thought about sitting down to write your life story? Maybe you’ve even put aside some time to get serious—to start the process of getting your life’s memories out of your head and onto a piece of paper or digital writing app. Perhaps you even went so far as to carve out a few hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Then it happens. You sit down in your favorite chair, a steaming cup of coffee (or tea) by your side, and as if on cue, your mind goes blank. You have no idea where to begin. So you start flipping through the cable channels in the hope that maybe something (anything!) on TV will jump-start your thinking process. Next thing you know, you’ve spent the afternoon watching reruns of The Wonder Years, and now it’s time to cook dinner.
Sound familiar? If you’re nodding your head right now, I invite you to try this 10-minute exercise:
- Grab pen and paper (or open your favorite writing app on the computer, cell phone or tablet.) Create three or more headings like: Childhood, Teen Years, Young Adult. Or use themed headings like School Years, Work Life, Raising Children.
- Come up with at least one memory for each category. That’s it. Just one memory to file under each category. This isn’t about writing the great American novel—at least not yet :-)—you’re simply creating a basic foundation that you can fill in as you go. Go ahead. Jot down a key word or two. Regardless of how many words you put down, limit yourself to 10 minutes.
- Don’t over-think it, just start. The magic in this process is that one memory often tips off more memories. Even if you just jot down one thing, you still have something to build on.
Keep in mind, not all of your memories will be sunshine and lollipops. Nor should they be. Sometimes the most impactful and transformational moments come from our darkest hours. So allow your mind to acknowledge whatever comes up: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
One last note in regard to today’s assignment: You may think this sounds waaaay too simple. And in a way, it is simple. Grab a notebook and do it anyway. We tend to think if we can’t design the masterpiece in one day, it’s not worth getting started. And that’s where we get tripped up. Every. Single. Time. Instead of making a little progress with a few small steps, we make no progress at all, putting off until tomorrow what should be done today. (And yes, I’m guilty as charged, thank you.) But tomorrow never comes!
Remember that old saying about planting a tree? The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.
Today’s 10-minute exercise is your tree. Get to planting!
Until next time,