How to Journal: Milestone Memoir

milestone-5Milestone Memoir is my vision of marrying one picture (worth 1,000 words) with one personal essay (250 words) to create a meaningful narrative for future generations.

In literary circles, Memoir is considered to be one particular aspect of your life rather than a comprehensive overview. And as I indicated last week, each of us have numerous memoirs we could write.

For example, one idea I have is to recount my mother’s life from my perspective. A possible title could be: I Learned How to Live by Watching My Mother Die.

milestone-3My first project, however, is going to focus on the significant Stepping Stones in my life – prior to children. The working title is: In Search of Significance, Acceptance, and the Perfect Shade of Pink.

The beauty of Milestone Memoirs is it allows us to slow down, become introspective, review our life and share lessons learned. This is not a project to be completed overnight. Rather, it is one that benefits from a certain degree of distance, which allows for developed perspective.

Milestone Memoirs can include documentation of global events as well as personal experiences. This helps put our life in context. World events that I might consider include JFKs assassination, MLK Jr. assassination, the Cold War, and the Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall.

milestone-4Milestone Memoirs can also include lists of favorite books, movies, music, and scripture verses. Consider adding quotes or lyrics, but don’t forget to also include WHY these are your favorites; it is that kind of personal insight that will be a treasure to your descendants.

I am a concrete sequential thinker, which means, I like structure and order. For me, the ideal structure for this particular book will be chronological. I will start with birth (as best I can) and end with married life, working and living in New York City. The purpose of the book, however, is to try to give my perspective on life; to offer an explanation of why I am the way I am.

milestone-2I will begin by brainstorming key events I wish to record. I will use my Stepping Stones as well as the Lois Daniel’s prompts to help narrow the focus and select appropriate essays to fit this theme. Each essay will serve as a separate chapter.

Once I have a list of possible chapters (which can change over time), I will then begin the process of reviewing old family photos. While this process can be a bit slow and tedious, it is worth the effort! If pictures are unorganized, be prepared to look at each one and attempt to file in a usable format for future reference.

milestone-10A word of caution: Sometimes the photos are NOT technically the best. Sometimes perfect photo to illustrate our point is not the perfect photo – perhaps it is slightly out-of-focus, or overexposed, but the story behind the imperfect picture is begging to be shared.


Once I have found usable photos, I will then scan them. This not only provides a digital copy for future generations, but it also gives me the opportunity to edit them for a better printed image.

At this point, I have matched stories with photos and have a good workable outline for the book. I am well on my way to creating a memorable Milestone Memoir.


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