Some writers resort to gimmicks in order to kick their writing into gear. If you are looking for a topic to write about, I usually respond, “Write your Memory List.” Some take this advice, but others continue to want a gimmick. The gimmick of choice for many is the writing prompt.
Below are a number of posts that will help you to steer clear of dependency on writing prompts. Even if you are not a writing prompt person, these articles will help you strengthen your writing skills.
In this video, Use This Instead of Writing Prompts, we discuss what to use instead of writing prompts. Writing should matter.
As people are writing a memoir they will sometimes say, “I want to write my stories but I have forgotten so many details. Is there any way I can get them back? Should I use writing prompts or is there something instead of a writing prompt?”
There is one tool above all others that makes the experience of life writing successful. That tool is not a writing prompt: it is the Memory List. No other exercise opens up the process of life writing as quickly and as surely as the thoughtful and thorough compilation of such a list. It’s simple, and as a first step, it’s crucial.
Let me tell you about the Memory List (a general term for your list of memories).
Your Memory List is always a work in process because the more you remember and jot down, the more you’ll recall. You will return to and rework your list again and again as you write your life stories. In short, it will serve as an excellent writing prompt without being a writing prompt.
1. The Memory List consists of short memory notes (three to five words is sufficient) of people, events, relationships, thoughts, feelings, things—anything—from your past.
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A writing prompt in my estimation leads to nothing. I’m not a great fan of a writing prompt. Sure, they get you to writing something. And many people will insist writing something is better than writing nothing. Well, I’m not so sure of that.
This post is part of the “Beyond Writing Prompts” series to help you to access memories that may not have made it to your Memory List. Walking through the nearby Bates College campus recently, I walked towards five young women who were heading in the direction of the college dining hall. I could imagine them […]