Apr 172014
writing about memories or memoir writing

Simply writing about memories–preserving your stories–is easier than writing a memoir.

Memoir writing and writing about memories have a lot in common. Both are introspective, healing projects. Here’s how writing about memories is an easier project.

It’s Easier to Get Started

It’s easier to start writing about your memories. The process of memory collection is much less formal than memoir writing. Though the quality of the memories and stories may be the same, but the framework is looser.

Memoirists look to convey a theme or story about their life. Many struggle with wondering if they story is important enough. Further, memoir writing requires greater technical writing skills. Ideally, your personal story will read like a novel. It will have a beginning that grabs the reader, pacing, climax, and character development. Writing about memories—simply collecting your stories, allows you to share with loved ones without worrying about the NY Times bestseller list. Continue reading »

Apr 142014
Writing through glasses 3D

Wearing and writing through glasses? Your personality can bring a story alive. But, it also functions as a lens.

What glasses do you wear?

We’re all writing through glasses of some sort. Our world-view, personality, and life experiences affect our writing.[1] Intentionally or not, we provide readers with a filter or lens.

This means that when you write about your memories, your writing is the filter through which your loved ones will come to understand the episodes of your past.

Perhaps the question makes more sense now. What type of glasses do you wear? What type of filter to do you lend to your readers? Continue reading »

Mar 182014
writing good enough when no one is the master

Apparently, even Hemingway had his “Is my writing good enough? ” moments.

Whether or not we voice it, it’s something we all wonder. We ask ourselves “Is my writing good enough?” before we pick up a pen (or digital age equivalent), as we write, and before we hit the save button.

The question—the self-doubt—taunts us.

For who?

Here’s where I pull out my soap-box, especially if that nagging doubt is keeping you from telling your own stories. For whom are you writing? If you’re hoping to pen a best-seller or win a literary prize, there may be some merit to the question. If you’re writing down your memories to share with loved ones, there probably isn’t. Continue reading »

Mar 132014
Difficult decisions great stories

Even when you regret your choices, your process of making difficult decisions can make a great story (or two).

In part one, we looked at how to identify important life decisions to write about. In this post, we’ll look at the stories behind the choices we made.

The story behind a difficult decision can be as important (and interesting) as the decision itself. Great stories result from examining difficult decisions in hind-sight, relating how you arrived at your choices. In fact, this is a common theme among best-selling memoirs. (Click here for examples.)

Decision making process

One of my favorite quotes when I was a teen was “Not to decide is to decide.” But that was my goal, not my modus operandus. I was more likely to take the path of least resistance than I was to make a touch choice. Continue reading »

Mar 062014

Memories of voices from the past There’s probably a good reason that we wish for a phone call from Heaven. We crave to hear the voices of the people we love. We want to remember the things they said—and how they said it.

You don’t have to be mourning a loss to want to preserve memories of what he or she said. Capture your memories of voices from the past by writing down short descriptions of what your loved ones say or said. Continue reading »

Mar 042014
Important life decisions: Weighing the choices

Weighing the choices of important life decisions

As years go by, loved ones lack a record of the choices we made. In this post, we’ll focus on identifying important life decisions to write about. In part two, we’ll look at the back stories to these decisions.

The following make great topics for memory narratives or journal prompts:

Family Decisions:

The lack of explanations of our ancestors’ choices is the genealogist’s bane. We find evidence of family decisions, but have no idea what motivated them. For instance, my husband’s ancestors leave us with unanswerable questions. Continue reading »

Feb 272014
Writing about your earliest memory as a toddler

Writing about your earliest memory can be entertaining and revealing.

Writing about your earliest memory can present a challenge. Often, they’re not coherent. You might only remember a room, a noise, or impressions. However, writing about your earliest memory or memories and explaining why they matter can provide a meaningful glimpse into your childhood.

It’s fun to compare something we all share

It’s fun to compare your own early memory with the earliest memories of loved ones. Most of our earliest memories date back to age three of four, though some people have even earlier memories. Continue reading »

Feb 202014
Athlete with the agony of defeat

Since we’ve all have known the agony of defeat, it’s a great topic for memory sharing.

Life isn’t always about winning, so it makes sense that we’d want to write about the agony of defeat as well as about our accomplishments. In fact, these stories of missing the mark are often the ones that connect us to family members, resonating because we all know that agony of defeat.

However, the difference between a simple loss and an epic disappointment isn’t always self-apparent. For example, watching the Olympics it’s clear that for some athletes, making it to Sochi was the victory. For others, “winning” a silver medal is the agony of defeat. Continue reading »

Feb 102014
Writing is therapeutic for the reader and the writer

Writing is therapeutic for the reader as well as the writer

We know writing is therapeutic for the writer. (If you don’t, refer back to Write about Memories: It’s Therapeutic! and Ovarian Cancer: Journaling and Healing). But that’s not the full extent of it. Here are a few of the ways that your writing is therapeutic for your readers.

Your Story is Their Story

Very few stories have only one character. Your stories include other people— Continue reading »

Feb 032014
The Rest of the story of Vanburen Clark

Van Buren Field Clark, my great-great-grandfather

Stories matter. Not just the bare bones stories based on facts, but the rest of the story. Personalities, proclivities, relationships, and experiences are an important part of preserving your family history.

Flynn Coleman makes a good case for this in his article Only Connect: Why Your Story Matters. Huffington Post writers don’t usually need my help in stating their case, but just this once I’ll help Mr. Coleman out with an illustration.

I decided to compare what I know about my second great grandfather from research as opposed to my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories.” I hope that it will bring home the importance of sharing and documenting family stories. You won’t just be providing the rest of the story. You’ll be facilitating a connection between the family members, past and present. Continue reading »

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