Memoir writing is cathartic for writers and inspirational for readers. Memoirs capture the story of a particular time or event in someone’s life through the lens of their feelings and perceptions, giving it a unique focus. It’s challenging to capture your memories and put them on paper because it is so personal. To get you started, I put together a few memoir writing prompts that may help trigger some memories and get your creative juices flowing.
1. A Turning Point
Is there a turning point that changed the course of your life dramatically? Did your father have to relocate for his work, moving your family from a small town to a major city? Were you adopted as a teen after years in foster care? Did a sibling die? If it changed your life overnight, it’s a great starting point for your memoirs. As a result, your memoir will have a definite focal point to build upon.
2. A Place That Shaped You
Do you have fond memories of visiting your grandparents’ farm every year or going to the beach for family vacations? Or perhaps you have unpleasant memories of being forced to go to a summer camp where you were bullied. Whether you love or hate a place, if it shaped you into the person you are today, write about it. The indelible mark it left on you is what makes your memoir writing compelling. As a result, places can become as important as people.
3. Your Greatest Triumph
Overcoming adversity to triumph, in the end, is always fascinating to readers. Memoir writing can start with your moment of triumph, then fill in the back story of how you overcame the obstacles in your path. What is your most significant victory? Perhaps it is owning a business? Or graduating from college? Maybe you were able to beat cancer? Recall the glow of your success and write it down.
4. Your Loneliest Moment
When did you feel the most alone in your life? Although it is unpleasant to recall that time in your life when you felt abandoned by everyone around you, it was crucial to your development into the person you are today. Memoir writing is about revealing ourselves to others. The times when we felt most vulnerable are often the moments that teach us the most profound lessons.
5. Meeting the Person Who Changed Your Life
Whether the person who changed your life was a teacher, best friend, or co-worker, you met them at some point. Was it a memorable meeting or merely a mundane interaction that might have gone unnoticed except for what followed? What was your first impression of the person that changed your life (whether for the better or not)? Looking back, do you wish you had met them under different circumstances or never met them at all?
Memoir Writing Can Go In Many Directions
Keep in mind that memoir writing prompts are simply suggestions to get your writing started. As you begin jotting your thoughts down, you may go off on a tangent. That’s good! Go where your mind leads you, keeping in mind that the prompts are merely a way to kick-start the process.
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