Make Words Your Family Heirloom

How do you turn your words into a family history? You write about them! If flashbacks to tortured school essays are the first images that come to mind then you have probably already decided that this post is not for you. But, it can be if you ignore words, like “autobiography”, “memoirs” and “family history”. Generations from now, a simple sentence may offer an insight to your great great grand daughter that far outweighs any object wrapped in tissue paper or displayed in a cabinet.

Write the truest sentence that you know!


Memoirs, Autobiography Or Neither

Definitions, although sometime boring, do have a purpose. They make sure we are all starting in the same place when it comes to understanding what we are going to do. Or, in this case what we are NOT going to do!

Quote: Carol Tavris

An auto-biography is the life history of the person writing it. A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events that took place in their life. The difference between the two comes down to our personal interpretation of history and memory. It would be simple to argue that history is a true account of history/event whereas a memory is an individuals perception of the event. However, as a renown social psychologist wrote……………

History is written by the victors, but it’s victims who write the memoirs

Carol Tavris

How Not To Write A Memoir Or An Auto-biography

Warts and All began when I gave myself permission not to write an auto-biography of my family history or a personal memoir of my life experiences. Blogging was my alternative but it’s not for everyone. It takes time, effort and a positive connection with your computer. Luckily, there is a simpler way.

The 6 Simple Steps To A Family Heirloom Of Words (No Computer Needed)

  1. Find an easy accessible space where “jotting” can be spontaneous
  2. Provide yourself with a journal
  3. Alternatively use whatever “note taking” app you have on your mobile phone
  4. Do not give yourself a goal or a time frame. Write when the memory and the desire to write happen at the same time.
  5. Write down a memory in one sentence or many sentences. Do not give yourself a quota of “words”
  6. Never analyze your writing

Example Of Journal Entries

Journal Of Memories

As a child I remember many times being asked where I came from and I never knew what to say. I was born in England, emigrated to New Zealand on an assisted passage (colloquially referred to as a “Ten Pound Pom”) After six weeks at sea we arrived in Milton transit camp, then on to Bluff, Ohai, Waikouaiti, Dunedin, Wedderburn and finally to return to Milton!

I was 7 years old when I was told we were going to another country on a boat. I couldn’t have cared less! It was exciting but then so was going to Jaywick for a holiday. I did know it was a special trip though because I was bought my first pair of slippers!

I’ve often wondered if we learn how to parent from our mother or how Not to!

In 1948 Israel was created, Ghandi was assassinated, London was busy with the Olympics and I was born……….on a Friday!

Travel certainly does broaden the mind. During a 3 day stopover in Hong Kong I explored, got lost and had a suit made to measure. Having no one else to consult about personal decisions was a new and liberating experience. By the time I landed at Heathrow I was a reincarnation of my former self!

I have a theory that losing ones identity is something many women of my era will understand.

Watching the BBC production of “Call the “Midwives” I saw my mother in the clothes they were wearing. When I watched the women standing outside their front doors talking with their neighbour it was her voice I heard. Even the children playing out in the street stirred memories of the games I played.

Arriving in New Zealand, November 16th 1955: The transition from one boat to another followed by a long train ride to a short bus trip doesn’t appear to have left me with any lasting memories


The purpose of the above examples is simply to give non writers a way of having their memories recorded for future generations. Even though the entries are not chronological they do paint a picture of a life.Purists may argue that a disjointed approach is neither a family heirloom nor a family history and they may be right. However, when the only family heirlooms you have are a broken rosary and four flying, brass ducks the opportunity to hold a journal and read disjointed, grammatically incorrect journal entries would be a priceless treasure.

Supporting Posts For “Make Words Your Family Heirloom”

Not The Beginning

Writing Tips

Writers Block

How To Stop Procrastinating

Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions I can add to my ” 6 simple steps to a family heirloom of words.”

Just Vicki

6 thoughts on “Make Words Your Family Heirloom

Add yours

  1. Great to know that my pointless daily journalling has the potential to turn into an heirloom! I just love putting pen down on paper so there’s that. This was an interesting article though. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Stuart. I really think “journalling” is a very under rated writing skill. Maybe because they are more likely to be private and therefor not shared as often as diaries are (think Pepys!) Thank you again for taking the time to comment.


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