How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories, Senior Living

How to Interview Someone with Dementia

Interviewing someone with Alzheimer's Disease

Recording and preserving the life stories, lessons, and memories of our loved ones is what got us started. Safeguarding your family’s legacy is important, but especially so if your loved one’s have started showing signs of dementia. September marks the 8th Annual World Alzheimer’s Month and to help raise awareness, this post will be centered around tips for interviewing someone with Dementia. Whether you’re a family member recording a relative’s stories or a caregiver working with residents, use some of these tips to help facilitate your interviews.

Body Language
Your body language and even just the way you carry yourself can have substantial impacts on how well your interview goes. The way you look, sit, smile, use hand gestures and a whole lot more can either help your interviewee feel more comfortable, or can put them on edge, depending on what these subtle cues tell them. Consider these tips when you’re interviewing someone with a form of Dementia:

-Sit, don’t stand: not only can sitting help you get a little closer to whomever you’re interviewing, it’s also a lot less confrontational.
-Keep your posture open: facing someone, chest forward, and no crossed arms or legs can convey your comfort and being at ease.
-maintain eye contact: eye contact (without staring) is one of the best ways to let anyone know you’re invested in the conversation.
-Facial expressions: showing emotion to someone you’re talking with can help them feel like you're listening to the actual content of their answers and not just listening to them talking.

Interview Structure
The overall shape and makeup of your questions can either make or break your interview with someone in memory care. Dementia physically alters the brain and affects areas dealing with new information. With this in mind, it’s best to keep questions or statements as concise as you can. In addition to keeping questions short and to the point, try to avoid multifaceted questions or questions that require too much context.

For example, instead of saying “I heard that your daughter likes painting and that you taught her how to do that when she was younger. Can you tell me about your daughter and some of her paintings?” break those questions into two separate topics: “Can you tell me about your daughter?” and “Can you tell me how your daughter learned to paint?”.

When conducting any interview, if you have the time, allow some breathing room at the start and end with casual conversation; it can help your interviewee get a little more comfortable or leave things on a positive note. If there’s not a whole lot of time, lead with a simple “How are you today?” and briefly explain what you’ll be doing.

If you’ve ever been on the other of an interview, you know it can be a bit nerve wracking and with people who have Dementia the whole process can be confusing as well. For this reason, it’s important to consider the setting of your interview with a focus on time of day and location. If you know the person’s schedule, aim for a time when they’re most likely to be awake and alert. Just as important as the time of day, consider setting up your interview in a familiar place for them. Not only can this help your interviewee feel more comfortable being in a familiar spot with some of their things can help facilitate memory recall, among other methods.

Recording an interview with someone who has Dementia isn't always the easiest thing; it requires preparation, patience, and empathy. But what makes it worth it is having those stories recorded and preserved for future generations. 

Preserving Memories, Storytelling, Senior Living

Capture and record the stories of World War II veterans —  before it's too late

The guy piloting the landing craft got as close to the beach as he could. I was up by the ramp when it went down. Let's get the hell out of here! Bullets were flying all over. You had to get off and keep moving, because if you didn't, you were a dead duck…

“June 6, 1944, is a day I’ll never forget,” said William E. D'Huyvetters, a 90-year-old World War II veteran. He recalls hitting Omaha Beach on D-Day in his interview here.


Stories like William’s are lost before they’re ever recorded. Everyday, World War II veterans are dying, and with them are stories of terrors and triumphs. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 362 WWII veterans die each day and it’s estimated that only 350,000 United States Veterans of the original 16 million Americans who served are still alive. The youngest of these heroes are in their late eighties, and some are more than 100 years old.

The passing of the WWII generation

World War II veterans are a diminishing demographic, and it’s important to capture their stories now, while they’re still with us. This generation holds the stories of bloodshed and sacrifice - the stories of things they had to endure to be here today.

There are numerous benefits to storytelling. By starting the conversation with the Greatest Generation, we’re giving them the opportunity to share wartime experiences and life advice for future generations. We only have a short period of time until WWII is complete history.

Capture these stories

Fortunately, there are initiatives in place to capture these stories before it’s too late. One of which is the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

However, a program like this doesn’t need to be government-backed. One 19-year-old made it his mission to film interviews with the remaining WWII combat veterans. With the support of donors, Heroes of the Second World War has been able to interview 849 men.

Go out of your normal social circles, venture into senior homes and talk to your elderly neighbor. If you have the privilege to work at a senior living organization, you probably hear these stories daily. A Legacy Preservation Program initiates the conversation and ensures these stories are preserved for generations to come.

When you’re speaking to a veteran, you tend to forget that the person who they were. That person in the picture, that handsome kid, is the same man 70 years earlier. It almost seems like it’s the story they’re telling of someone else. When it hits you, that you’re talking to the same person, it’s a combination of joy and sadness - this kid went through hell, just so that we could be here.

It means a lot to these veterans to create a relationship with you and feel valued. You can see the youth come out of them when they have a good conversation and they have the opportunity to reminisce for a few minutes.

You don’t need to go searching for celebrities. There are plenty of real-life heroes just a phone call away.



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TSOLife (The Story Of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Inspired to capture the stories of the veterans in your care? We help senior living communities leverage technology to capture, preserve, and share the life stories of the residents in their care. Let's talk!

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Company, Preserving Memories, Storytelling, Senior Living

TSOLife Case Study: A Legacy Preservation Program meets both mission and operational objectives

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In today's world of senior living, assisted living communities are expected to do more with less. Families have come to expect amenities and care that go above and beyond, while staff are under significant financial and time constrains. Now, imagine if there was an affordable program that attracted prospecting families, elevated current resident satisfaction, and engaged families. That's exactly what the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program does. 

Click here to view the case study

Understanding the need for communities to increase person-centered care and resident engagement in order to increase occupancy, the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program was designed to do just that by pairing state-of-the art technology with face-to-face interaction. Our innovative technology makes the process simple and timely so that staff can focus on what matters most: the senior. Meanwhile, meaningful interactions are encouraged, seniors are engaged, and the resident feels celebrated and valued. 

The technology was designed with seniors in mind. For example, instead of requiring typing, which can be an obstacle for some people, the TSOLife mobile app converts spoken phrases to text, which is sent to family and friends, all of which is automated on our end. 

A TSOLife Legacy Preservation program is the embodiment of a community that cares for its residents. We've put together a case study that demonstrates how effective TSOLife is from a business's standpoint while highlighting the impact this program has on seniors and their families.

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To see how it works in action, schedule a free web demo today! Learn more about the Minerva System and the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program here.

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Family History, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories

Have Your Grandparents Love with You Forever

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This is a testimonial provided by a TSOLife customer.

The holidays are a time to do something special for your loved ones, to celebrate their lives, and make them feel loved. When considering the perfect gift for our family patriarch, my 90-year-old father-in-law, Donald, my husband Jeffrey and I went looking for a way to document his life story and chose TSOLife. What initially was meant to be a unique gift turned out to be something much more meaningful and truly strengthened the bonds between my family.

Searching for a meaningful gift.

Finding the perfect gift can be challenging. But with so many reasons to celebrate this year – the holidays, Donald’s milestone birthday, and the first family reunion in several years - I knew I wanted to do something special for the whole family. However, I didn’t want to purchase my father-in-law another item of clothing, and his age made it challenging for us to take vacations.

Further, like many families, ours is spread out all over the country, and even gathering my immediate family with our own grown daughters is tough – let alone bringing our entire generational family together. What could I do for our family that would make everyone feel connected?

With my own parents’ passing over 15 years ago, I knew first-hand how special and cherished our time spent with our elders are. How can I capture my father-in-law’s life stories and preserve this memory of him? I desired a way to commemorate the wonderful life of my loving father-in-law and make him feel valued, respected, and loved.

How TSOLife Helped.

When I heard about the TSOLife Legacy Documentary, my immediate thought was how I wish I had a video like this of my own mom and dad. I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity, so that my own children would have no regrets, and that their children would be able to watch the video and say, “This is my great-grandpa.”

My husband’s siblings and we got together and arranged for the TSOLife team to make a documentary of dad seamlessly sharing life stories – a truly unique and meaningful Christmas present. The process was simple, we just chose the date, and the TSOLife team traveled to Donald to interview and film him. They asked questions that I would not have thought to think of, and their quality film equipment and expertise was something that I could not replicate on my iPhone.

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Strengthening the family bonds.

The TSOLife documentary was the perfect gift for my father-in-law, and is something that the whole family will cherish for years to come. We played the documentary at our family reunion, and for those who couldn’t travel to the festivities, we could share the digital link with them through Facebook and email.

Donald felt appreciated and celebrated, and we all heard stories that we had never heard before. We enjoyed hearing about his childhood, school stories, stories about his wedding, honeymoon and poignant memories about career, raising a family - impactful lessons that we would never have known and now have documented for the future. The film is absolutely beautiful, and the quality will stand the test of time. It opened up certain conversations that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I enjoyed my own daughters being able to ask their grandfather more stories about his childhood.

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Celebrate and honor your loved one.

Family history is a priceless gem that’s too often lost before it’s ever recorded. We should celebrate and cherish the relationships with our loved ones while we can.

This documentary turned out to be something way more than I expected, and goes far beyond then just a gift for my dad. Showing my love and appreciation for my loved ones is something that I greatly value, and I feel like this documentary had allowed me to do that for my family. This documentary gave us peace of mind knowing that Donald’s legacy is preserved, strengthened the bonds between our family, and celebrated our loved one. We will forever cherish this special film.

- Christi D., TSOLife Customer

Click here to watch Donald's full documentary.

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TSOLife focuses preserve legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

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How To's and Tips, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Writing Your Memoir, Memoir

Creating a Memory List: Great Tips to Start Your Memoir

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Writing about your life may sound easy… until you sit down with that blank piece of paper or computer screen in front of you and your mind goes blank.

Been there.

So, how do you get over this?  I suggest by creating a memory list! Trying to write your lifestories without a memory list is like driving on a dark road without headlights. When you turn on those lights, you can then stay in between the lines and on the road.

It is worth taking some time to create a list of events that have occurred during your life, and I know even that may sound overwhelming. Let’s begin with a few ground rules and make it fun:

Start thinking about the major events from your past. When you married; had a child; went to college; graduated high school; visited your grandparents in the summer; moved to another state… On and on it will go!! Once you open that part of your brain where the memories are stored, they will just flow onto the paper. (Some of you may find that typing in a word processor works for you just as well as writing on paper. YOUR CHOICE. Later, in a future post, we will talk more about how different writing methods can elicit different results in our perspective on a life event.)

We are trying to create a list of random thoughts and recollections - hundreds of brief statements. This may take you a few days, to a week and maybe even several months. I recommend creating this list in a way that you can add to it as time goes on.

Some folks like to use a 3-ring binder where you can shift the pages around and increase the pages easily. Of course, if you are typing on a word processor, there is always, “cut and paste!”. Don’t worry about repeating yourself as you write, as that can be a clue to something on your mind that needs to be explored.

I suggest you start this way: mull and ponder a little! As the memories come, jot them down and write whatever comes to mind. Release that inner censor that tells you, “that word is not spelled right”, “it’s not a full sentence”, etc. Let the thoughts drift from your brain.

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Have you heard of free writing? Don’t lift your hands from the paper, just keep going! Sometimes, you will remember dates, names, places, and other obscure memories - but not the details, just yet! It’s OK to write in fragments and short bursts of thoughts. Think of an old-fashioned water pump: one must pump that handle until the water starts to flow, and when it does, it just gushes out! Don’t punctuate, spell check, try to create a sentence or even a paragraph. Keep your list where you can access it easily and add to it until you have several pages.

Once you have those many pages of memories written, let’s get them organized! Read through your list and choose 5 to 10 core events that you want to write about first. It’s important to consider what you think changed your life’s direction, what lesson you may have learned, who and why were the most important people, places or things that made you who you are today. These core events are where you begin. Now you may write a sentence and get that spelling right!!

Your stories are there waiting to be told. Your task is to let them emerge from the depths of your memory. (Quote borrowed from Turning Memories Into Memoirs, A Handbook for Writing Lifestories, by Denis Ledoux)

Next time we will discuss how to expand those sentences and begin to write your lifestories by using your senses!


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TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Storytelling, Writing Your Memoir, Memoir

How to Start a Memoir

I remember when I was very young, and my father showed me my great grandmother's memoir that he and his cousins constructed into a book. Reading her memoir made my family history incredibly more meaningful. Because I never had the chance to meet her, Elizabeth's stories of living in the Great Depression, her experiences at Bennett College, how her father made my great grandfather wait to marry her, all painted a picture of the adventurous, intelligent, spirited woman that I was named after (well, my middle name). My great grandmother had no idea what impact her memoir would have on her great granddaughter, who might even read it to her granddaughter. I have a much greater admiration for my great grandmother, knowing that she took the time to carefully construct her memoirs, planting seeds she would not see the fruit of.

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So, why should you write a memoir? You most likely have explored the idea of writing your memoir, and are doing a bit of research into the process and best practices before you commit the time and energy. Whether you were inspired by a loved one's memoir or recently read a great memoir book (check out Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle!), you're new to the idea and searching how to start a memoir. This post will help answer the why's and how's to get you started on writing your personal memoir.


First, let's start by explaining what a memoir actually is, not to be confused with an autobiography, book, or journal, though a personal memoir can be constructed from or into any of these. It is defined as a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events that took place in the subject's life. It can be any type of combination of history and reminiscence, personal or public.


Memoirs are not just for the famous or those who lived especially eventful lives. Everyone has a story to tell. You can simply be sharing with your children and grandchildren the family they were born into. Your personal piece of history might be the lasting legacy you give to future generations. Your memoir is a glimpse of a life they'll never experience and the memories you leave behind will be cherished and spread by your loved ones. Nobody has lived or seen the exact same things than you, in the same place and moment. But, of course, as we’re all humans, the stories that you tell will echo on the others - as we all live, love, hate, and die. 

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However, even if you have no children or you're not convinced anyone will read your stories, the personal fulfillment is worth it. A memoir is a way to reflect on who you used to be and the journey to where you are now. My great grandmother initially started her memoir for her own enjoyment. An ancient memory of blue Popsicle juice running down your sticky chin might be the forgotten sweet memory that will put a smile on your face. You don't need an audience in mind to write a memoir, and this may also contribute to a much more enjoyable experience when you're not distracted with the idea of who will be reading your thoughts.

Further, writing your memoir has been proven to result in improvements in both your psychological and physical health. According to one study, participants who frequently engaged in writing about their past, current relationships, and their emotions had significant mental and physical health benefits and social and behavioral improvements. To name a few, writers had reduced blood pressure, improved mood, altered social and linguistic behavior, feelings of greater psychological well-being, a higher grade point average, and improved memory.


Pretty astounding, right? If simply writing your memoir has all these benefits, why isn't everyone doing it? Staring at a blank piece of paper or screen when you have a lifetime of memories inside of your head may seem like a daunting task. To help get you started on your personal memoir, we've put together an introduction to writing your memoir with best practices, tips and tricks, and inspirational writing topics! You can download the FREE guide below:

Download the Intro to Writing Your Memoir Guide! 

You're now convinced of the importance of writing your memoir and you have the tools to do so. As William Zinsser said, "Writers are the custodians of memory." Take the time and write your memoir. Make it yours. You'll feel good and maybe with a little luck and patience, you might touch others too.  

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TSOLife, a personal historian service and online tool to help you capture, record, preserve and share the story of a life well lived. TSOLife makes it easy and enjoyable to document a personal history that will be cherished by future generations. We invite you to schedule a FREE hour with a personal historian to help start documenting your life story.

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Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories


Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.

We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions  with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly.  Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.

In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:

"In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"

I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.

Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.

Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.

1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.

2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.

3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.

4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.

5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.

6. Similarly, make a Snapfish or Shutterfly book that collects the pictures from special event or vacation . These photo books make great gifts or coffee table books.

7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a  Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.

8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.

9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.

10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.

So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories, Storytelling

How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out?

You spent hours. Many of these hours were spent wadding up papers or exercising the backspace on your keyboard. Despite these setbacks, the duration of these hours have led you to where you are now. You sit there staring at your creation. Your life story lies before you, in whichever form it may take. You exhale, and in the process, relax the furrowed lines of your forehead developed while deciding what events and memories were worthy of inclusion in this narrative. You inhale, empowered and exhilarated because of what you have just accomplished. It is not finished, of course. What life story ever is? But, you have found that stopping point where you can stop writing and move on to the next step, which is what exactly?

You wrote your life story. Now it is time for someone to read it. This reader may be a family member or someone you have never met. That decision is up to you.  It is one thing to write a story, but making a story interesting and engaging is a whole other ball game. How do you interest people in reading it? You may have heard the adage, “Build it and they will come.” As many of us learn in life, this saying does not always represent the truth. When it comes to writing and sharing your life story, more effort is involved than that of “Write it and they will come.” As a writer, you are tasked with keeping the reader interested while still staying true to yourself. So how, as a writer, do you make your life story stand out? Fortunately, there are many ways to create a dynamic and interesting life story without using excessively flowery writing or including exaggerated details.


Welcome to Step 2 of the writing process! It is time to add photos, audio files, videos, supporting documents, and a new perspective to bring your life story to a whole new level.


Photos are a sure way to bring some excitement to your life story. Photos are useful in engaging those with short attention spans who are turned away by lengthy blocks of text. They are memorable and interactive.  People say a picture is worth a thousand words, however photos are even more powerful when combined with text than when they stand alone. When adding photos, it is important to document who was there and what their names are. Do not force future generations into playing the “Guess who is in this photo?” game, because you did not write a caption or label the photo. You can describe how happy you were on your wedding day. However, for a reader to feel that they were there, they need to see it. Add a photo to your story from your wedding day, so that they can see for themselves the contentment and excitement in your smile.



Record yourself telling your story, and add the audio files to your story. We understand how much value the spoken word holds. When recording your audio, tell the story. Do not just read the script. Let those reading and listening hear the inflections and tone of your voice. Let them hear your voice crack with emotion or increase pitch with excitement. Adding emotion will bring your story to life. The experience of listening while reading a story is much more dynamic than that of just reading the text alone. Generations from now, your family members will be grateful that they can listen to the voice of their great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.


We live in the digital age, so people commonly film important moments in their life. It is easy to capture even the smallest moments because of how widespread smartphones are. If you have the videos, add them. Do it. Videos are just fun, and are a sure way to drive engagement. They have the ability to influence the reader’s mindset and emotions while they read the story leading to more interest and involvement. It is fulfilling to watch a video snippet, see a moment as it unfolds, and then read the story about the events leading up to that moment and those that followed afterward. The addition of videos creates a very holistic storytelling experience that inspires the writer and the readers.


Many stories can be supported with documents above and beyond photos and videos. Newspaper articles, birth certificates, artwork, scans of handwritten letters, diplomas, and census information add legitimacy to your stories. You may have some of these items laying around. Many of these items, however, may not be as easy to find and can require some research. Fortunately, many resources exist to assist in the search. A few of the more popular options include Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage.


Show your life story from a different perspective to keep people interested. Fortunately, TSOLife offers multiple ways to make that happen. The map view allows your life to be viewed from a global perspective and highlights your footprint on the world. Readers will immediately be able to see where you have traveled. Readers can also view your story on a vertical or horizontal timeline which offers them a chronological walk through of your life. These different viewing options allows your life story to interest a diverse group of readers.

By utilizing what resources you already have available to you, you can truly make your life story stand out. No matter who is reading it, whether it be family members, friends, or people you have never met, they will enjoy the exciting storytelling experience you are offering them. Even if you are writing for yourself as a way to reflect on your life, combining your written words with other aspects facilitates a more investigative and holistic experience. Pages of lines of text, tedious and not visually appealing, are a poor representation of the beauty and struggle in life—in your life. You have so much more to offer, so let your story shine.

Next week look forward to more information about resources available to find public documents and genealogical records.


Check out how photos and an audio recording bring this story to life.

Find supporting documents at Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage

Check out these new perspectives on a life story: map view, vertical timeline, and horizontal timeline. To learn more, read How to Write a Good Life Story.



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Storytelling

How to Write a Good Life Story

Writing your personal narrative can be an extremely rewarding experience. To read further about why your life story matters, read How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out. Unfortunately, documenting these anecdotes can seem labor intensive and overwhelming. However, sitting down and writing your life story does not have to be a scary experience. Here are a few tips that make the process exciting and stress-free:

  1. Pause before you write.

Think about what you want to write before your hand ever touches the keyboard or picks up a pen. Taking a moment to write your story in your head first gives you a mental first draft and can lessen the chances of you experiencing writer’s block or freezing as soon as you pick up the pen.

  1. Start off by thinking big.

Throw away the misconception that writing your life story means you must work chronologically from birth to present. This method may work for many and will result in a finalized memoir document, but it is a tedious and tiresome process. You will probably find yourself writing about an event, because it is next in line chronologically not because it is critical to your life story. Start writing about the stories that are most important to you. Make the process easier on yourself by writing the stories that come naturally. Write about what memories excite you and what memories make you who you are. This advice comes from Sandi Newmark, journalist and TSOLife client. As a feature writer, Sandi possess experience and expertise on highlighting the important events. She advises writing your life story like a feature piece. Spotlight the important stories, and go back to fill in the minor events later.

  1. Sweat the small stuff.

Details really set great stories apart. Include specific information, such as names, dates, and addresses. Take a moment to set the scene. What was the weather like? What was everyone’s moods that day? What stands out about the moments where your story takes place? The right details allow you to share your story with your reader and move them to that moment and that place. Details allow for a more holistic and engaging reading experience. Focus on the pertinent details. Focus your writing on elaborating upon the life event you are describing; however, avoid embarking on unrelated tangents.

  1. Think about what you wouldn’t think to ask someone in person.

There are many important questions and topics that are important to a person’s life. Many of these topics, unfortunately, do not come up naturally in every day conversation. People converse all day every day, but how meaningful is what they are communicating? Write about what does not come up in the conversation in person. How did you first know you were in love? What is your biggest regret? What is your proudest moment?

  1. Add recommendations and advice.

Think about what retrospective knowledge you can pass down to others. Consider why you are writing this story and who will be reading it. Do you want your audience to take something specific away from it? When telling a travel story, where do you recommend someone to visit? When writing about the best date you had ever been on, what advice can you offer others for their next date? Documenting the story of your life gives you the opportunity to pass down knowledge to others, and it is important to take advantage of this opportunity.

  1. Show your personality!

This is your life story, so make sure it shows who you are. Feel free to include humor when appropriate. Throw in your favorite saying. Your writing style can be very poetic, or more conversational. Let your writing style reflect your character and personality.

  1. Find your inspiration.

Accept that writer’s block is normal. Sometimes we sit down to write, and our mind becomes as blank as the paper at which we are staring. Find your writing inspiration and look to it when you are stumped. Think about your favorite book, a memoir you have read, a conversation you had in the past, or the dream you had while sleeping last night. Reread what you have already written. Looking through old photographs can trigger many memories and many stories. (More about writing about photographs in our next blog post.) Take a moment to clear your mind and hit reset. Go for a walk or close your eyes for a few minutes. From where one draws inspiration is different for everyone.

  1. Be fearless.

Do not be afraid to look inside yourself. Write about all that is good as well as all that causes you pain. When you feel exposed and uncomfortable and find yourself outside your comfort zone is when true reflection, self-discovery, and brilliance takes hold.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” — Anaïs Nin

The writing process is different for everyone, and sooner or later you will find what works best for you. The tips above will send you in the right direction. Writing your life story can be an uplifting and wonderful experience, and is one that everyone should experience. Best of luck and happy writing!

Need inspiration? Check out these 100 Prompts for Writing About Yourself.



The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

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