Where does one begin when approaching the work of writing her (or his) memoir? Must we begin at the beginning? Hell no! Start Where You Are as my favorite Buddhist, Pema Chodron, says.
Here are 10 techniques that you can use to generate ideas for kicking off your memoir:
Pick any embarrassing past event (set the scene and show us—your readers—what happened next)
Recollect a weird dream
When you played “make believe,” what character did you play or pretend was present? Show us.
Try mindmapping, asking “what if” questions, and other creative thinking/brainstorming techniques
Go out for coffee or a glass of wine and listen for juicy conversations (even ordinary ones may kick start a memory)
Recollect an anecdote that an older relative or friend told you
Check out stories in newspapers, magazines, or books that fascinate you (use their opening sentence to ignite your own inner-writer)
Remember a time when someone left an impression, left you waiting, or just LEFT YOU
Freewrite about a time when someone hurt your feelings or made you feel fabulous (whether they knew this or not)
Read the obituaries regularly, save interesting histories in a file, and use the file to open the door to your own life
Recollecting your life story (stories) can be based on truth and imagination. For instance, you might embellish a true story about your first kiss—”bumping up” the facts of the occasion. It’s perfectly okay to use your imagination. It can be really fun/funny to dramatize a memory.
My favorite memoirists that embellish the past are often hilarious, i.e., David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, David Cross and Anne Lamott. Please, use anyone of these creative thinking techniques (above) to uncover ways in to your life story.
P.S. If you have some more ideas, please share them with the rest of us in the comment section.
Be sure to schedule a 15-minute complimentary book coaching session via email: AuthorizeU@gmail.com. If we begin working together, my eBook—Writing From Life: A Wise Guide to Publishing Your Memoirs—will be yours as part of the coaching package.