10 Timed Writing Prompts for Unlocking Memory

I recently had the opportunity to participate in Natalie Goldberg’s online eight-week Way of Writing series. I consider her a mentor, since I’ve read almost every one of her books and I use her practice of timed writing from prompts.

I am a huge advocate of using timed writing from prompts, which helped me create the manuscript for my memoir, The Chocolate Pilgrim. To this day, prompts are a big part of my process – they help me unlock memories, write without pretense in a state of flow, and overcome creative blocks so I can tap into my humor and imagination simmering just below the surface.

It was a joy to be a part of Natalie’s online teachings, as she shared from her personal experiences and reminded me once again of the power of timed writing practice. If you’ve never tried timed writing from prompts before, here are the basic “Rules for Writing Practice”. These are especially helpful if you’re writing memoir. If you want to take this further, a book I highly recommend is Natalie Goldberg’s, Old Friend from Far Away.

Time to Practice!

The rules for writing prompts are simple.

1. Set a timer for 10 minutes.

2. Take a breath and settle into your seat. Set aside all the things happening outside the writing prompt.

3. Press start and go! Keep your pen moving and resist the urge to scratch out words. Write what comes.

*My favourite tip: Be as specific as possible with what comes to mind. Write “cedar” instead of “tree”, and “blue Ford Galaxy” instead of car. This makes the writing process easier as you bring in more detail.

10 Simple Writing Prompts for Memoir

For 10 minutes, write about the prompt that calls to you the most.

1. I remember …

2. A favorite meal ...

3. Describe a childhood home, or your bedroom at a certain age …

4. A favorite place I loved going to …

5. Who do I remember the most?

6. What I’m thinking about …

7. What I want to write about …

8. A book I loved reading as a child …

9. Someone who supported me through a challenge is …

10. The time of year I like the least …

Creatively Yours,

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