Go Digital!

Retired Woman on ComputerChances are if you are writing a memoir or autobiography, you are going to need to find a way to share it with others. For some people that will mean a printed book and for others, it will be an e-book. Printed books can be as simple as stapled photo copies of a hand-written document. However the price of printing professionally bound books is so reasonable, that it is worthy of consideration even if you want to use the hand written documents.

So if you are planning anything other than photocopying the handwritten documents, you are going to need to get everything into a digital format… In other words, you’ll want to be able to work with it on your computer or mobile device. Below I’ll discuss some options including typing, dictation, digitizing hand-written pages, and digital voice recording.

If you know how to type fairly well, you will probably be most comfortable with this option. If you don’t know how to type, it doesn’t really take long to learn if you have the right teacher… and it’s a nice skill to have. Mavis Beacon typing software has been teaching computer users how to type for years.

If typing is your choice, you can either use word processing software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or you can use software designed just for writing memoirs and autobiographies. MemoirWorkbook.com is a product we designed that has hundreds of questions to prompt your memory. You type your answers and the document formatting is handled for you.

There is another software application called Scrivener hat we like for writing and organizing. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but it does make reorganizing your chapters very easy.

Important Typing Tips:

  • Avoid using SPACES or TABS to create indents or for any other formatting purpose. Most text editors have a way of setting paragraph indents and they can be added and adjusted at any time during the process.
  • Avoid using extra line spaces as paragraph indicators. When it comes time to format the document, all of these extra line spaces will probably need to be removed. Most text editing programs will automatically put extra space between paragraphs. This spacing can be adjusted to show more or less space.
  • Although many of us learned to type using two spaces at the end of a sentence, you will only want to use one space. If you put in two spaces and then use full-justified text, the spacing may be awkward.

Dictation / Speech to Text 
If typing is not your thing, dictation software might be. It converts speech to text and is available for Windows and Macs, as well as most tablets and smartphones. There are a lot of options, so we put together a whole post on Using Dictation Software.

Write it by Hand
Some people just prefer to write on paper and that’s fine, just make sure your writing is legible. As mentioned above, photocopying your handwritten document is an option and if a stapler isn’t big enough, stop by your local print shop to see what options they have for binding it.

Most people will take the completed hand-written document and type it themselves or have someone type it for them. If you can’t find someone locally, it is one of the Services we offer here at MemoirHelper.com

Voice Recording
If you decide to use voice recording, you will want to use a digital voice recorder. Rather than recording on “tape”, the files are digital, so they won’t deteriorate in quality and they can be easily shared.

The simplest option with a digital voice recording would be to distribute the recording to anyone with whom you want to share your stories. It’s easy to copy the files to a flash drive, CD or DVD.

Another option would be to add your voice recording to a photo slideshow to make it into something really special that could be watched on televisions, computers and other devices. If you are not sure how to do this, we are happy to help. Check it out on our Services page. Your voice combined with your photos and maybe even some background music can really bring your story to life.

If you prefer your memoir be in the form of a book or an e-book, then you will need to have your recording transcribed into text. See our Services page if you need help with this step.

It takes a little effort to add photos to your project, but it’s well worth it. Check out our post on Scanning, as well as our post on Taking Photos of Photos.

Go Digital! was last modified: January 11th, 2016 by Val Brennan
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