What is “52 Weeks of Storytelling”

The main idea is to have you write one page, each week. That way you can create 52 pages for a book that's never been written before!

This a great activity to use in care facilities and over Zoom for families during visiting hours. Helping someone else tell their story is one step towards restoring human dignity.

Legacy Storytelling Method

What you'll find in the journals, and in all the videos is the legacy storytelling method. It's what I use to coach and train people, how to have storytelling conversations and write the resulting stories.

What I found over the years is that when people use this storytelling method, it leads them to write better stories more easily. It also gives them a chance to have meaningful storytelling moments with others.

The Five W's

The first five questions are the five W's who, what, when, where, and why, in that order.

The Why is where people get a little tripped up. The why for me is what was happening.

  • How did you get to this moment?
  • What was going on?
  • Was it because someone told you to go do something, etc.

You are answering the why of how you got there and how the moment happened.

Digging Deeper

The next few questions have to do with feeling and impact…

  • What do you want people to remember about this moment?
  • When did this memory happen?
  • How do you feel about it now that then maybe there's some distance between you in the memory?
  • What impact did it have on your life?
  • Did it change the trajectory of what you did?
  • And then finally, what do you want people to remember about this moment?

When you answer this last question or when you ask someone else this question, it's pretty amazing the answers you'll get. You'll find that it may lead to other storytelling conversations and other things that you didn't know about the person or that you didn't realize about yourself until you walk through this reading method or storytelling process.

Working with someone else

Following this method of interviewing and storytelling with someone else allows you to build rapport and create a stable connection.

This means that your Storyteller will be more likely to share harder, more emotional memories later. Relationship-building takes time and shouldn't be rushed whenever possible.

If you are working with a grandparent, parent, or someone else you love, you may be able to skip some of these but I still encourage you to start with the prompts and 52 weeks of storytelling.

Copy of Yellow Notebook Cutout Notebook Book Cover

Grab the Journal

You didn’t think I would leave you without a map, did you? I’m using the 52 Ways to Write Your Story in a Year With Guided Prompts to guide the prompts every week. You can grab it as a printable PDF from Etsy or head over to Amazon and order a hot off-the-press-bound copy.

Some things that have happened for people as they have been writing and using the journal and could happen for you…

  • Become more mindful and aware of your decisions in life
  • Learn more about yourself by exploring your family history
  • Get to know who you are and what makes you tick
  • Get inspired to write a memoir

Why Listen to Me

  • Trained over 80 students and staff to work in care facilities with residents to help them tell their life stories
  • Guided over 100 people through Legacy Projects
  • Published over 70 individual life storybooks
  • Countless families and individuals have used the Legacy Recorder to work together to tell their stories around the globe
  • Directed & managed the creation of a video series to illustrate the impact of the program on university students 
gael gilliland holding her book The Legacy Recorder Community Guide