Have you been feeling a desire to start writing your memoir, to share adventures and misadventures you’ve had along the way? You may be wondering, “How do I begin?”
Start by letting go of thinking that memoir is an orderly chronology of your life. I suggest that you dive into the heart of an experience, discovering more about what’s underneath the surface. A great way to start is describing a supportive family member or friend, a mentor who guided you at an important choice-point in your life. What do you remember about this person? Write the sensory details of this person, starting with an item of clothing, or the home they lived in.
A great writing prompt to use for priming the creative pump is: “I remember.” Try writing for 10 minutes, then switch to “I don’t remember” and write for another 10 minutes. As you write, keep your pen moving on the page (or fingers on the keyboard). Do your best to avoid stopping to edit your words, or search for the perfect word. You can always go back and edit later. This process of “fresh writing” is the beginning stage of the creative process. I’ll share more about this process in another insight post.
I believe that joining a writing circle or program is an important step that will sustain you as you complete your project. While putting words to paper is solitary, the sharing, the feedback, and the revising process are all best done with supportive others. There are many opportunities available now, both locally and online. If you are curious to know more, please get in touch and I’ll create a post with suggestions.
Even if you aren’t able to connect with others, favorite books and authors can be a supportive component of your journey. Begin to notice details in your favorite stories: style, pacing, character development and content. For example, I’m fascinated by memoirs with the theme of thriving in spite of early adversity. Each author I love has shared openly about their process of healing. While some important relationships did not withstand the transformational process, new mentors and allies stepped in to support growth and change. Such stories mirror the trajectory of our own lives; give us hope, a sense of direction and the benefit of the authors’ shared wisdom.
We have all survived some challenges along the way. As you dive into your life story, you will discover the wisdom you choose to share.