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writing prompts

Better Than Writing Prompts – Five Tips for Creating a Memory List

Your best writing prompts

People who are writing a memoir 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?”

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).

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write a significant memoir

How to Write a Significant Memoir

That our memoir is insignificant is about the last thing we memoir writers ever want to read about our magnum opus. How do we write a significant memoir? What separates a significant memoir from an insignificant one? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not fame it’s not the scope of the arena of the action. […]

Point of View in a Memoir

The Wrong Point of View in a Memoir Can Throw the Story

Point of view in a memoir can cause a major problem

In 1996 and 1997, I composed about 200 pages of a memoir of my high school years and then it wasn’t going anywhere more than where it had been—mired in facts and details with no spirit.

I merely stored it in various computers for years.

In the fall of 2013, I completed my mother’s memoir (We Were Not Spoiled). Because I was looking for a writing project I might devote myself to next, I picked up the high-school memoir. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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one true sentence

Hemingway’s “One True Sentence” Can Save Your Memoir

How a “one true sentence” can save your memoir

 

I have found the “one true sentence” to be very effective in focusing both my own memoir writing and in the writing of people I have coached and edited. Hemingway’s one true sentence is an effective tool for better writing. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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write a significant memoir

Your Life as a Myth Part 3

The following is the third installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I wrote about the orphan and the martyr. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

In the first installment of Your life as a Myth I wrote about the martyr archetype and in the second installment, I wrote about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Today, I will offer you some practical suggestions for implementing the concept of archetypes in your memoir writing.

Writing from the perspective of personal myths can explain a lot about the stories you are recording. In addition, consciously living archetypes in your own life and turning them into positive forces is a rewarding path for self-growth. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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life as a myth

Your Life as a Myth Part 1

The following is the first installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In this first post of Your Life as a Myth, I write about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In the second post, I write about the orphan and the martyr. In the third post, I write about general considerations of using myths and archetypes. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

 

Myths are the stories we create to express how we perceive the world and life. How we live our lives is determined by the myths we live by, but our lives also reveal our myths to ourselves and to the world.

What are your myths? Look at your life, at your feelings, at your responses to others. That is where your myths reside! That is where your life as a myth can be found. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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memoir pre-writing

Three Tips for Effective Memoir Pre-Writing

Before you begin to write your memoir, there are a number of non-writing tasks which you must undertake—this phase of compiling your lifestory is called memoir pre-writing, and it is essential to writing better stories. People often think of pre-writing as a waste of time, but it is not. It will get your stories written more quickly and more interestingly. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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going deeper in a memoir

Going Deeper in a Memoir: Look at “Life’s Failed Contracts”

This post is about going deeper in a memoir, deeper even than you thought you could go when you started. This may be hard, but take a look at the contracts with life we make and the terrible disappointment that inevitably comes from making them. All of us at some time or other have made such a contract with life–in fact, we make them over and over again until we finally grow up and become present to the unfolding reality. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing prompt

Use this instead of a writing prompt…

Writing prompts lead to nothing

As readers of the blog know, I’m not a great fan of using a writing prompt. Sure, they get you to writing something and many will insist, “Writing something is better than writing nothing…”

Well, I’m not so sure of that. Writing should matter. It’s hard work, and life is short. What’s better than nothing about writing some text on “the most fun things I did this summer?” as we sometimes had to in school. (No wonder we did not learn to write while in that context!)

Writing from insipid prompts is not much better than writing nothing—not if you are someone who is interested in writing “from the inside out” as I hope all readers of this newsletter are. [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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family myths

Use an archetype of your experience to revive your memoir

Can an archetype of your experience refocus your memoir? “My memoir writing has grown tedious,” you bemoan. “I thought what I was writing about was exciting when I began writing. It was exciting then. I could remember so much of what happened. It was compelling. And now as the time I lived this experience recedes into the past, as the vivid memories become less vivid, I am finding it hard to continue to write. Should I give up?” [Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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