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Organize Your Memoir: Life Phases

Life phases are one way in which you can organize your memoir. Life phases are the emotional and psychological cycles or phases that have marked your life.

Every life proceeds in irregular and unpredictable phases. We can go along with our lives for a long time without much change, thinking that we have arrived at a resolution of the great “who am I?” question, and then unpredictably and perhaps quickly find ourselves dealing with totally different emotional and psychological challenges. Often, it is only in looking back on our lives that we are aware of these life phases.

With hindsight, most people can recognize a life phase or two every decade.

Sometimes a life phase will last only a year or two and, at other times, a person can be in a stage for ten or fifteen years. It is these periods–their evolution and consequences–that can form an interesting basis for writing a memoir.

Think a moment of your life. What natural groupings and changes do you detect in your life energies? At what points in your life can you say, “I felt differently about things after that”? Or, “I conducted myself in a different fashion”? Wouldn’t these  groupings make a great way to organize your memoir?

In my own life, for instance, I can see a natural grouping of years between the time I was 13 and 20, 20 and 23, 23 and 30, 30 and 33), etc.

These dates mark times in my life when I was doing a number of similar things and experiencing growth in definite direction. Once I cross over from one period into another, the energies change decidedly–what I was doing, thinking, and feeling afterwards was no longer the same as what I was doing, thinking, and feeling beforehand. It wouldn’t work, for instance, for me to write about the years between my 19th and 24th birthdays (a period of only five years) as a unit because those years contain three distinct energy periods for me. But, the times between my 23rd and 30th birthday, although containing experiences spanning many more years (seven) than the earlier period is marked by a unity of emotions and growth that makes it possible for me to think of these years as a cycle, a life phase. You, too, can organize your memoir with life cycle or energy phases.

In writing my memoir, therefore, it lends comprehension and clarity to my account to organize my memoir into units that correspond to the energy cycles of my life.

By doing this, I can see what in my life nurtured and maintained these periods and what brought them to a close and whether it was a timely close or not. In this way, my life becomes more comprehensible both to me and my reader–and in the end, it will help you to write better, more insightful life stories.

In the final version of your book of memoir, these life phases correspond to chapters or sections of your memoir. Energy cycles turn out to be a very organic way not only to understand but to organize your memoirs.

Good luck writing and organizing your memoir!

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2 Responses to Organize Your Memoir: Life Phases

  1. mary jackson September 16, 2013 at 1:10 AM #

    What are your suggestions for people who have many, many cycles in approximately a 6 year span. One book, in my opinion, will be WAY too BIG!!!! And there are many important details that I do not feel should be left out. Amen.

  2. Denis Ledoux September 16, 2013 at 2:09 PM #

    Mary, I’ll be writing a post on your question. It’s an important question. Be on the look out for it this week. I’ll come back here to post a link. BTW, are you on the RSS feed. You get automatic updates when you are.

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