I’m teaching a generative memoir workshop at The Loft Literary Center on Saturday (Nov. 3). The purpose of this workshop is to get students in the mode of idea generation. I distinctly remember writing an essay in a writing workshop and then thinking, “there’s more where that came from.” That’s exactly how my memoir was born. I immediately made a list of all the topics that could be part of the memoir, and spent the next several years fleshing out those ideas.
I have a couple of other writing projects in mind and for me, they always start with a list. What is everything I know, everything I remember, that relates to that topic?
If you are just in the beginning stages of writing a memoir, or you know you want to write a memoir but are not sure where to start, here are a couple of questions to contemplate:
What people keep popping up in your memories?
What are some of the major turning points in your life?
I particularly like that last question. Any time our lives “turn” is a moment ripe for contemplation. For example, the turning point in my memoir is when my dad died unexpectedly. That changed the entire course of my life, and I built the memoir around that turning point. I thought about the experiences I had related to death that came before, and how my perspective changed when I had someone close to me die.
Give it a shot! Let me know what you come up with.