You might not need any memoir writing help, per se, as you know your past and you
know quite well how to write, thank you. You might instead just need someone to inspire
you, motivate you, give you a nudge–with some memoir writing ideas.
It Begins With a Writing Prompt
Here are a few prompts to stimulate your memory and to encourage your
creativity…of which you have plenty to work with and to share. So do the activities (or at
least one), and share them (or it) with loved ones…or with me if you wish. I love reading
your memoirs and responding.
Prompt Idea #1
Starting on June 17, 1976, Diego and Susy Goldberg, of Buenos Ares,
Argentina, photographed head shots of each member of the family…one day every year.
Of course, they started as a family of two–Diego and Susy–and have over the years
created a photo essay that captures their physical growth (and more) over time.
Visit the website and study the photo essay, “Time” (at www.zonezero.com/
In words instead of photos, choose one day of your family’s life (starting with your
parents or guardians and adding you as a child) and describe what you each look like. Do
this for one day every year for as many years as you can.
Prompt Idea #2
All art is a response to something–other art, an event in our culture, a moment in
history. Look at the photos (on roxannewrites.com or anywhere on the web, and write a
page or two of your immediate associations with that picture.
For example, look at the photo of the old 50’s drive-in. What is the first memory
that comes up for you? Who was involved? Who was absent and why? What sounds do
you recall as predominant that day? What smells were there? What colors do you recall?
How did you feel on that day?
Prompt Idea #3
At the bottom of the page of my site are two pictures. One is clearly related to the
movie theatre, as it features a crowd of men and women (of the 40’s?) standing outside
The Dixie Theatre, all facing the camera; and the other has to do with the stage (and
movies…later), as it is an artistic rendering of Othello pulling back the bedchamber
curtains and peering in at a sleeping Desdemona. Decide what one play or movie
influenced you the earliest.
What was the name of the play or film? When did you first see it? What impact did
it have on you? For instance, if you and your family were poor and you only saw one
movie when you were a kid, maybe you grew up to love movies or work in the movie
Maybe, instead, you saw a play every year with your since deceased uncle, and
were inspired to go into theatre or to study literature. Write whatever you want about one
movie or play, and then email me with the draft(s) for a response and more
encouragement if you wish.
Finished with these prompts? There are more lessons in Memoir Writing for Our
And stop in every month for new prompts and/or a response to your creative
memoir writing if you’d like. I know I’d love it if you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
N.H.-born prize-winning poet, creative nonfiction writer, memoirist, and
award-winning Assoc. Prof. of English, Roxanne is also web content and freelance
writer/founder of http://www.roxannewrites.com, a support site for academic, memoir,
mental disability, and creative writers who need a nudge, a nod, or just ideas…of which
Roxanne has 1,000s, so do stop in for a visit, as this sentence can’t possibly get any