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writing prompts

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

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).

[Free Membership required to read more. See below. ]

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writing a memoir

Core Focus for Writing a Memoir

Is your family one of the many whose history is at risk for getting lost to future generations because no one has written it down? Here is a clear focus for writign a memoir Writing your lifestories—even just a few—is a great way to memorialize your family and to keep the experience of your life—and […]

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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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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myths and archetypes

Your Life as a Myth Part 2

The following is the second installment of a three-part series on the use of myths and archetypes in memoir writing. In the first part of  Your Life as a Myth, I wrote about both archetypal patterns in general and about the martyr archetype. In today’s post, I  write about the orphan and the prince-left-at-the-pauper’s-door. Both frequently make appearances in a memoir. These posts are excerpted from Turning Memories Into Memoirs / A Handbook for Writing Lifestories.

What is the orphan archetype?

One example of myths and archetypes is the orphan.  People who do not develop or maintain personal ties can be said to be pursuing the orphan archetype. Artists are an example of the positive side of this archetype. Because many artists feel detached from roots, family, etc., they are free to tell the truth as they see it, to risk much in the pursuit of their art. [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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family myths

Going Beyond Family Myths to What Really Happened

Family myths aren’t always true. Your family myths may be stories your people choose to tell about themselves regardless of what really happened. Myths are stories we tell about how the world seems to us to be organized. Most of us are familiar with the religious myths Greeks and Romans told as they sought to […]

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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