Writing personal histories takes planning, time, and effort to stitch the research into a cohesive blend of resources that tells the story that will inspire generations to come.
A Story Worth Writing Begins with an Outline
“Why do you need an outline? I already know what I want to say.” These are the words I remember saying in tenth grade as I started my English creative writing course. As I discussed the first writing assignment with my teacher, I assured her that I could finish the story without writing the required outline. She allowed me the opportunity to prove her wrong. After several drafts, I reluctantly told the teacher I was not able complete the story in the assigned time. I found myself writing and rewriting. I found myself expanding and deleting sections of each paragraph. It was never completely what I wanted to say.
The teacher offered me a second chance. This time, I was to use an outline and then write the story. With a new topic, I wrote the outline and finished the story. I don’t remember my grade, but I remember the lesson: a story worth writing begins with an outline.
An outline is a blueprint of your final product—in this case, your personal history. It represents the content of your story, organizing your memories, lessons learned, and supporting details. The outline is all about organization and providing a visual and conceptual design of your writing.
How does an outline help? The outline helps you expose gaps in your story early in the process and gives you time to fill them in, so you don’t leave out any important events, stories, and ideas that you want to tell. You will understand the full breadth of the story you write, have a clear focus on the detail you want to include with each topic, and always have a reference point from which to add, rearrange, and delete.