Recording your life story for family, friends, and posterity
Anyone who lives long enough has a story to tell. How do you want family and friends to remember you? Our lived experiences include accomplishments and often contain essential life lessons. We witness significant historical events worth sharing. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of preserving personal and cultural histories for future generations. What’s your story?
Older adults or anyone can access many low or no-cost tools for preserving their life stories using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Professional memoirists and other online services are available to help you record, preserve, and share your story. Keep reading to learn more about accessories, apps, and services you can use to document your life story.
You know your own story and what you want to tell. If you’re still figuring out what (or how much) to tell (and in what form), it helps to have a place to test or try out your ideas or take a few notes. Your options are practically unlimited. In addition to pencil and paper, numerous apps and options are available on computers, smartphones, or tablets for recording and preserving your story.
- Writing in notes and documentation apps
- Voice typing in documentation apps
- Voice recording apps
- Video recording apps
- Digitized photos and online photo albums
- Digital books with narrative and pictures
Begin by outlining, listing, writing, recording your memories, and sorting through old photos (and films or videos, if you’re fortunate) – and a narrative starts forming. You have numerous tools available to organize your thoughts and the events and details of your life, and begin telling your story.
Get Comfortable with the Tools
Everyone has a different comfort level with available storytelling tools. Almost everything you need for voice recording, and taking photos and videos is in the palm of your hand when you have a smartphone or tablet. Accessories like tripods with smartphone mounts, microphones, and additional lighting improve recording quality and help you produce consistent photos, videos, and audio recordings.
If you’re getting started, check out the photo and video editing capabilities of your device’s camera app and the software you may already have on your PC or MacBook. Numerous apps and software are available to try if your editing needs exceed the capabilities of what you have.
If you prefer to write and illustrate your story with pictures, there is a wide selection of low or no-cost apps from which to choose. Apps for note-taking, documenting, managing and editing photos and videos, enable you to record your story.
- Apple Notes
- Apple Photos
- Google Docs
- Google Photos
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft OneNote
Apps frequently allow you to share your work with family and friends on social media and other online services.
Backup Your Work
Treat your story like the important information it is, and be sure to back it up – documents, photos, videos, audio recordings, and other supporting files. If you’re already using the cloud that’s one form of backup. iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox are all examples of cloud storage you can use. All of these services come with a limited amount of free cloud storage and reasonably priced upgrades for more space. You can use more than one.
You can also use an external hard drive connected to your computer or mobile device as a backup for your story content.
Don’t Limit Yourself
You may not have imagined yourself as a scriptwriter, memoirist, film producer, or audio engineer, but there is no limit to the kind of story you can tell with the tools available. At the same time, you don’t need to learn every feature to create stunning books, videos, and audio recordings. Get started and learn more as you go.
Share Your Story
Documenting your life story is a major accomplishment! Now you can easily share your story with family, friends, and colleagues. You have several options from which to choose.
Audio and video can be uploaded and shared on YouTube using your Google account. You can create photo books with pictures and text using Apple or Google Photos apps. Memoirs can be self-published using Amazon and other online services. Costs vary depending on the content, platform, and order quantity.
You can direct your family and friends to your creations by sharing links through email, text messages, or posting on social media.
Technology we carry with us can also be used to document our life stories. Get familiar with the tools you may already have and start telling your story. Your family and friends will cherish what you share with them.
This post also appears in the November 2022 edition of Prime Time News.
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