Every family has great stories. What a gift it is to share them with future generations. But many people can feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of sitting down to write their life story…where do you start? A great tool to use for getting started is a journal jar. If you use a journal jar and write for just fifteen minutes a day soon you will see great progress on sharing your family stories and memories.
A journal jar is a tool that many writers use for different purposes. Creative writers use them to help get ideas to start fiction stories or poems. Scrapbookers can use them to gather creative ideas for scrapbooking. Even a blogger can use a journal jar to help develop ideas for that day’s fresh blog. A journal jar will help inspire you – you help by filling it with prompts that will give you that inspiration when you reach into that jar every day, or whenever the mood strikes you.
To make a journal jar you can use whatever type of jar suits your fancy. You can find beautiful, generously sized jars at many online candle making supply shops (look for anything over 20 oz.). Or if you are feeling frugal, you don’t actually need to use a jar at all. Consider using a small paper bag, cut a lunch sized paper bag in half.
Once you have a container you like then you will need to fill it with prompts. A good journal prompt is a sentence or two that makes you think and want to write! A great way to come up with journal prompts is to first think of subjects that you would like to have journal prompts for (Childhood, Adolescence, College years, Wedding, My Parents, Memories of Grandparents). Then free-write ten to twenty questions on each topic to give you your journal prompts. Questions on your topic for Children could be for example: “What toys did I play with as a child?” “Who was my favorite teacher in grade school?” “What memories do I have of birthday parties?”. The questions should be ones that make you start to think of ideas, even if you are not ready to write about them. They should also be about varied topics. Once you have your journal prompts cut them out and fold them in half and put them in your journal jar. Now you are ready to go!
Using a journal jar is a simple habit to enter into your daily life. Keep it by your computer, or your bedside table to encourage its use. Even if you feel that you have very little time – give yourself just ten or fifteen minutes a day to write and you will find stories tumbling out of you like water from the faucet. Then pull out a journal prompt each day and simply write about the prompt. Very often you will find the use of the journal prompts literally addictive – and it is hard to just stop at “just one” so you will pull several each day. What I have noticed from using a journal jar to record family stories is that often simply pulling a prompt and writing about it will often remind me of other stories and then I can also write about these as well. So by simply pulling one prompt, you can often be reminded of four or five wonderful memories that you want to record.
After some time has gone by you may wish to consider compiling your stories in some type of order. Perhaps after a month has gone by – you will probably have at least thirty stories by then. If you have handwritten your stories you may want to type them into the computer for easy sorting. If your stories are already on the computer you may want to print them out to discover the best order to place your stories in. Remember that you are probably still working on a work-in-progress and that more stories are yet to come. But simply placing your stories in order may remind you of more stories that will help pull this selection of memories together, or this process may also help you recall more about those memories that you may want to add to the stories you already have.
It is such a wonderful experience to remember those favorite family moments and other memories. You are also creating a legacy that will be enjoyed by future generations of your family who will enjoy reading what you have to share with them.