Jul 022015
Hometown context - a graphic of houses along a river

Adding hometown context can help your stories come to life

Your hometown comes to represent much more than the place you grew up. It’s your version of your state and country.

When we write about family members, ancestors, or ourselves, it’s important to give readers a glimpse of that hometown context. It helps explain worldview, values, and traditions. It helps them understand the personalities involved in our stories.

For instance, my hometown still colors my perception and understanding of events, even though I’ve now lived away from South Carolina as long as I lived there. It’s part of me. Though I’ve lived in the mid-west for over twenty years, I still consider myself a southerner. Continue reading »

Jun 232015
Train track represents get back on track

Read how to get back on track if you’ve gotten side-tracked from your writing or storytelling project.

Read how to get back on track if you’ve allowed yourself to get sidetracked

Procrastination and distraction are two of my best talents. In fact, I’ve been exercising them quite a bit lately! Which makes it seem like a great time to write about how to get back on track.

Re-examine your motives, not just your goals.

Once you’ve let your discipline slip a little, getting back on track can seem like drudgery. Chances are that when you got behind, you were busy with other things. And those other things don’t just disappear when you decide to get back on track.

When it comes to writing and storytelling, passion is a key element of discipline. Looking only at your goals is only good for giving yourself a kick in the hind-quarters. It doesn’t invigorate the creative urge that got you started in the first place.

Look again at the things that made you want to write about your memories and share your family stories. Think of your audience. The things you want to preserve. They way that you want to preserve them.

Now look at your goals.

Were your goals unrealistic? Has life changed? Or, do you simply need a jump-start as well as a lot more chocolate to reward yourself?

Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. If your goals seem realistic, do you have a plan on how you’re going to achieve them? For instance, if you’ve determined that you want to write about two memories or stories a week, have you figured out how that works into your week? Believe it or not, I’ve tried the “it will just happen” approach. It doesn’t work.

When you’re done beating yourself up, move on.

Sometimes we get so caught up in berating ourselves and regretting the time we’ve lost, we have trouble moving on. At least I do. You may be a lot less neurotic than that. Figure out how you got off track, if you must, but only to learn from it and take evasive action next time you see that particular perfect storm on the horizon.

Break up the writers’ block.

Nothing weakens resolve like writer’s block. It’s a pain in the brain, as well as other places. Some of the most common “cures” are using prompts (Hmmm…. Who has a good book with prompts, and a blog to boot?), writing exercises, and reading others’ stories.

Trick your imagination.

Drew Chial, a blogger I really enjoy reading, has a new idea on how to trick your imagination into focusing on the things you want it to focus on. I won’t steal his imaginary thunder. Read his How to Keep Intrusive Thoughts from Ruining Your Writing and see if his magic works for you.

Banish your inner perfectionist.

If you wait for the perfect inspiration to come at the perfect time, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities. Everything doesn’t have to be inspired. Neither does it need to be worthy of literary accolades.

Write. You can edit later, but get the words flowing on to the page. Lock that perfectionist urge way in a box and just let words find their way to the page. (Yes, you can get it out and play with it later, but not now.)

Break a rule or two

We learn rules so that we can better understand when and why to break them. Give yourself permission to do the opposite of what all the advice columnists say. Perhaps you need to forget about your audience and get in touch with your emotions to get back on track. Perhaps you need a break. Try something different and see if there was a rule that was holding you back.

Read How Writers Get Back on Track

Chuck Wendig’s 25 Ways To Get Your Creative Groove Back As A Writer is meant for professional writers, but makes a lot of good points that almost anyone can benefit from. Plus, just reading his style will make you want to dive for the keyboard and start pounding away.


It’s my favorite, so it was a given that I’d round out the list with it. Brainstorming stimulates creativity an helps develop ideas. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you have, get back on track by brainstorming your way there.

Your Turn:

What’s your best tip for getting back on track? What works best for you?

Jun 182015
crest share surname history

A crest isn’t the only way to share surname history. Share stories too!

Aside from the “cock” part and the inherent playground emotional trauma that comes with bearing it, the Hedgecock name has a lot to be proud of.

Since I only adopted that name after my marriage, I confess to letting a giggle of two escape at some of the Hedgecock name jokes. “Bush-chicken,” for instance. My husband and sons fail to see the humor. Continue reading »

Jun 042015
Foot in mouth

Big Foot in mouth (again).

Have you ever said something and as soon as it left your lips, you would have given your eye-tooth (I don’t actually know which one that is) to have your words back again? Failing that, you’d like to dissolve into the woodwork and never be seen again?

I have. On more than one occasion.

We’ve all had moments when we’ve had to try to bandage our dignity as we extract our foot from our mouths. Share them!  I’ll go first.  (You’re next, though. Misery loves company.)  Continue reading »

May 192015
Laugh at yourself

Whether or not everyone else is laughing at you, “Laugh at yourself” makes for great writing.

That misquote from B.J. Neblett didn’t go over so well with my mom when my Dad said it to her in the mid-sixties. Mom had a great sense of humor, but she didn’t like being teased. I often wonder if it’s because my uncle Joe teased her so much when they were young. Or was it her reaction to teasing that made it so much fun for my uncle to tease her? I digress.

This not-so-gentle nudge to laugh at yourself is good life advice. But, it’s more than that. In my opinion, it borders on a memory writer’s and family historian’s imperative.

The story in question when my dad encouraged my mom to “lighten up” was about the only time (to my knowledge) that Mom received a “ticket,” or traffic citation. Continue reading »

May 062015
Emotional furniture of your memories of your first home

As you write about memories of your first home (or any other place), include some emotional furniture.

When I first heard the prompt “Write about your memories of your first home,” my first reaction was, “Oh yeah, write about the place I can’t remember.” I wasn’t alone. The woman next to me offered aloud, “My first home after I got married?” She grew up as a military brat. She couldn’t even remember the number of home she had lived in, much less any details about the first one.

Of course, she was right. There’s several ways to adapt this prompt into something that will resonate with you and your readers. The point is to get your memories to paper and to connect with others through your stories. For instance, in addition to writing about your actual first home, Continue reading »

Apr 162015
Author Judith Fein emotional genealogy

Author Judith Fein writes about emotional genealogy

Today, I’m particularly pleased to present a guest post by Judith Fein and her concept of emotional genealogy.

When I gave my first talk about the power of Emotional Genealogy, I wondered if anyone would be able to connect to what I was speaking about. To my surprise, audience members asked questions for over an hour, and then they continued with personal questions for another half an hour.

You may be wondering what Emotional Genealogy is. Briefly, it involves examining how the behaviors of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents influenced who we are and how we are in the world. And it doesn’t matter if we knew them or not. Continue reading »

Mar 122015
Writing with you heart on your sleeve

Writing with your heart on your sleeve helps your readers to connect with you. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

One of the most rewarding parts of sharing your memories and stories is those moments when the big picture comes alive. When you see in someone’s reaction that you connected. Writing with your heart on your sleeve increases the likelihood of that happening.

The memory collector has a different role than the average narrator. You’re part of the story. You add context. When you expose your more vulnerable side, you allow readers to see the world through your glasses.

It comes down to building trust with your readers—your loved ones. The better they know you, the more they will trust your vision—your filter—of the stories you’re telling. More importantly, writing with your heart on your sleeve helps form that palpable the connection with your readers. Continue reading »

Dec 302014
Breaking through Writer's Block

Five great ideas for breaking through writer’s block

I’m often asked, “Where do you recommend people start when they’re recording their memories.”

Sometimes, however, it’s not the starting that’s the issue. At the beginning, with a little brainstorming, ideas come down like the proverbial cats and dogs in a rainstorm. Then they don’t. That’s the problem. You encounter the “What do I write?” blues.

Breaking through writer’s block is important. Once coming up with ideas is difficult, it’s a slippery slope to procrastination. Continue reading »

Dec 042014
Wendy Parmley Shares Hope after Suicide

Author Wendy Parmley shares her story of finding Hope after Suicide — here in this post as well as in her recently released book.

I’m excited to have author Wendy Parmley share her insight with Treasure Chest of Memories readers. Wendy is an advocate for suicide prevention as well as for the support of loved ones left behind after a suicide. In this post, along with sharing her story of finding hope after suicide, she also opens up about the roles of her faith and sharing her story had in her physical and emotional healing.

I began writing my book nearly three years ago following a bicycle accident which left me unable to return to my nursing career because of the continued effects of a traumatic brain injury. During those dark days when I couldn’t get my brain to work, God spoke to my heart. I knew what my new work would be. My new work would be to tell the story of my angel mom – the story of her life, the story of her death, and the story of my healing journey. Continue reading »