Why should you write your family history?


Photos and documents inherited from my beloved Aunt Flosh, Muncie, Indiana


A recent article posted by the New York Public Library got me thinking about the many reasons writing our stories is important. I introduced this question at a memoir writing workshop last spring, and my writers’ answers surprised me. They fell into two camps:

We write to preserve and share what we know about our family tree–its roots and branches.

If you know me, you’ve heard me state my belief that the greatest gift you can give your loved ones is the story of your life. A resilient family narrative–one that conveys not just your triumphs but your struggles and how you overcame them–has proven to improve children’s and adolescents’  emotional health, happiness, and grit.

 We write for ourselves.

Writing about your life can significantly boost the power, clarity, and subtlety of your brain and mind. It can contribute to emotional, mental and physical health as we age. Expressive writing about your experiences can help you understand your current family dynamics, finding greater happiness as you heal old wounds (or even wound a few old heels). It can lead to greater perspective and even an increased sense of purpose in your life.

So which reason was the more popular with my writers? To my surprise, “I write for myself” was the overwhelming motivation.

What do you think?

Find the complete article here:

20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History


About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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