I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…writing for just ten minutes a day will prime the pump and stimulate your creativity. Memories will drift up and out the ends of your fingers onto the page. I encourage the participants in my Memoir Writing Workshops, “Set a timer for ten minutes and just start writing about anything, or nothing, but keep your pencil moving. Don’t stop to edit or correct spelling because you can do that later.”
This idea is not original with me. In the 1970s I read a book, I Ain’t Much, Baby, But I’m All I’ve Got, by a Montana professor of creative writing Jess Lair who for every class session, entered his room and sat down to write for ten minutes. Just like exercising, some every day is productive.
At first it is quite difficult to find things to write about every day, and ten minutes can feel like an eternity. For those who need a push in the right direction, I recommend Bob Greene’s book, To Our Children’s Children, available on Amazon, which is full of story starters that can help you if you’re feeling stuck.
A couple of weeks ago, at a writing workshop, I suggested the prompt, “As I stand here ironing….” Someone groaned, “Who irons any more?” Someone else sighed, “I gave up ironing long ago.” And another said, “I iron once a year, just before Christmas when I’ll need those red napkins again.”
“Good,” I said. “Write about it. I’ll set the timer.” We all were delighted with what each writer read to the group.
“I iron my white pants to get a good crease and I know that I’ll be going out to have a good time with friends…”
“I remember when my mother taught me how to make the corners of the napkins square by pushing the tip of the iron into each one………”
“I used to iron the white shirts my son needed for St Matthew’s Primary School. He was such a sweet little boy…….”
Natalie Goldberg once said, “It’s like combing the ocean. You don’t know what you’ll dredge up.” That is how you find the good stories, the unique ones that mean something without trying too hard. Start with ironing, and end up with family traditions, lessons learned from mom, and the love we feel for our children.
Here are some other prompts to get you started:
I’m looking at…………..
Tell me everything you know about ice cream.
Who has been kind to you?
What are you most proud of?
Tell me about a time you lost hope.
Have any of these prompts worked for you? What others have you liked?