Reporting Your Family Story

by Ian

in Motivation, Storytelling

Look at your life, like a journalist would.

Have you thought about approaching your own life and therefore, your families story as a journalist would?

In a recent post on CNN Mark Whitaker suggested some great ideas to help you dig deeper into your family, using some of the skills that he’s gained in 35 years of reporting. It started with asking remaining relatives of what they remembered:

Once they got started, one memory led to another, and I ended up talking with them for hours and filling notebook after notebook. Their recall became particularly sharp when they were telling me why something I thought I knew was wrong. The urge to correct the record, I discovered, is a powerful aide-memoire.

And then getting every scrap of information that he could find anywhere it was located:

I asked all of my interview subjects to give me whatever they had on paper from the time: diaries, letters, academic notes and reports. Some of it no longer had relevance, but the prospecting yielded many nuggets of gold.

Eventually to realise what he personally got from it:

“Was it therapeutic?” people ask me, and the answer is yes, but in a different way from conventional treatment. Call it “contextual therapy”: the placement of your own story in a wider human narrative, where every family story is utterly unique yet entirely universal.

It’s worth taking the time to sometimes approach a personal Life Story as a mission to discover all that is available that you share with others. It may not have much context for others but it’s relevant to close family and for those inside the family, once all the information is put together there will be realisations that many would never have known about.

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