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Legacy Writing & Personal History

Grandparenting Today magazine recently featured an article by Dr. Heidi Moore which mentioned my Legacy Writing course as part of a look at the kinds of legacies grandparents can leave behind.

Dr. Heidi Moore–who spends her time balancing her writing life with her duties as a pediatrician, wife, mother, and all-around swell writer friend–recently mentioned my Legacy Writing courses in an article she wrote for Grandparenting Today magazine. Dr. Moore describes the benefits of leaving behind a personal history to increase understanding between the generations and provide a sense of personal identity for children, grandchildren, and future generations.

If, like me, you’ve ever lost a loved one – a parent, spouse, even a child – you know the desire to have “one more day, one more conversation, one moment more” with that dear, departed one.

Legacy Writing is the act of leaving some part of yourself behind, for future generations. Personal histories, no matter what form they take, are an amazing portal into the past, and a way to re-connect with those who have gone on. As Dr. Heidi writes:

…no matter what route grandparents take to leave a legacy, a spiral notebook or a tape recorder, or a hard cover memoir, they should begin the process. It’s the most valuable thing to leave behind.

And, she’s right. Something, anything, is better than nothing.

While personal histories can take a number of forms, as a creative writer and independent writing instructor, I am a champion of leaving a written history. Yes, a video is great. Mementos and antiques are wonderful in their own right. A well-written legacy, like a well-written book, can open doors into whole other worlds for the reader, and a well written personal history can provide many more layers of meaning to those left behind.

The Blank Page

As with most writing projects, getting started can be a daunting thing, especially if the person who wishes to leave a written legacy hasn’t had formal training. There are several good books that can help you get started, and other ways to get the ball rolling, but some people find a guided path is the easiest to follow. That guided path is what I try to offer through Legacy Writing courses, which I am available to teach either online or locally in the Bradenton-Sarasota area of Florida.

A personal history "is lasting, a real legacy."

My Legacy Writing courses are meant to be both fun and challenging, and I offer them as one-on-one courses or with small groups. Here’s how I describe the course on my website:

Legacy Writing Basics will focus on ways to begin to explore your personal story. We will discuss core writing principles and look at ways to stimulate the “writer within”. Even if you’ve never written prose for others to read, this legacy writing course is a great place to start. You already know the subject matter (YOU!) and I’ll be there to help you find and refine your words.

The Legacy Writing programs include assigned readings, writing prompts, memory exercises, feedback, and direct instruction designed to help the writer identify, shape, and refine his or her personal story. Some writers may want a straightforward family historical narrative, while others may find their voice in a more literary, memoir style of prose. Regardless, having a creative writing mentor–like me–can be a source of inspiration and motivation for the would-be family historian. Even individuals who have had more experience writing may find it helpful to have a writing coach and guide running along side them, urging them on to deeper and more fulfilling writing.

You can find more information about my Legacy Writing courses (and other creative writing instruction) at my website. If you’d like to talk about your own Legacy Writing needs, I hope you’ll contact me here (or via my email address, located in the “CONTACT” tab at the top of my blog) and we can discuss your thoughts about pursuing your own literary legacy.

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