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Memoir Writing Advice and Writing Prompts

by Matilda Butler on July 5, 2016

Writing Prompt LogoPost #234 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler

Memoir Writing Advice

Two of my close friends send me fantastic greeting cards from time to time. A quick email is great. A text is perfect for sending a photo or video. But paper cards are the cat’s meow. I thought I’d share the message from a recent one I received. It offers advice that I’ve reshaped for memoir writers.

moonAdvice from the Moon

Live life to the fullest
Be someone to look up to
Don’t be phased by difficulties
Take time to reflect
Enjoy a little space
Honor the cycles of nature
Light up the night!

–In Llan Shamir’s Advice from Nature series published by Leanin’ Tree

There are many expressions about the sun:

1. You are my sunshine.
2. “Sunshine is a welcome thing. It brings a lot of brightness.” — American songwriter Jimmie Davis
3. “Live in the sunshine” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. “Sunshine is delicious” — John Ruskin

and others.

But what about the moon? Sure there are quotes, but we tend to think and talk much more about light than darkness. But what about light in the darkness? That’s a good definition of the moon — light in the darkness.

Use the poem above and these writing prompts to get you thinking about the advice from the moon.

Memoir Writing Prompts

1. In what ways do you live life to the fullest? Is it when you are around family? Is it when you are surrounded by art? Is it when you are being creative with your cooking? Is it when you are writing your memoir? Make a list and write about one of the items. Explain how the activity makes you feel like you are living life to the fullest — that you are at the phase of full moon.

2. Are you someone that others can look up to? In what ways do you try to be a role model for others? Write a paragraph or two about this aspect of yourself. This is a great exercise since we rarely cover a topic like this in a memoir. (Although if you do that is also great.)

3. Don’t be phased by difficulties. Boy is that a hard one. We know there will be difficulties in life, but they often do concern us and we don’t always react in the best way. Think about one specific difficulty you have encountered in your life. Write a paragraph about the difficulty. Write a second paragraph about how you reacted to it.

4. Take time to reflect. This is a great one for a memoir writer. Creating a memoir is more than writing. You will spend time simply reflecting…thinking about your life…deciding what aspects of it you want to share with others…understanding how you got from “there” to “here.”

5. Enjoy a little space. You may want some space in your life. Writers perhaps feel this need more than other people. How do you create a little space in your life? Is it the space where you write? Is it a place where you like to walk? Think about the various ways that space is important to you and then write for a page. Space is a concept that just begs for details, details, details. Describe the space. Describe why this space is important to you.

6. Honor the cycles of nature. Nature’s cycles are concerned with how the earth renews itself. How do you renew yourself. What do you do when you are tired? What do you do when you find your writing is blocked? What are your personal ways to honor the cycles of nature? Write a few paragraphs about each way that you honor the cycles in your life.

7. Light up the night. This is the last line of the poem and is especially strong. How do you create light when darkness surrounds you or those you love? Write a paragraph and give yourself the pleasure of seeing how you bring light to darkness.

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Memoir Writing Prompts: Father’s Day is Coming

by Matilda ButlerJune 7, 2016
Memoir Writing Prompts: Father’s Day is Coming

Matilda Butler shares a new perspective on writing about Father’s Day — with gratitude.

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Memoir Writers – Watch Your Language!

by Matilda ButlerMay 10, 2016
Memoir Writers – Watch Your Language!

Matilda Butler shares a fun example about the changing use of vocabulary along with a reminder to make the language in your memoir true to the time period.

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And Still More on Nostalgia and Memoir Writing: Part 3

by Matilda ButlerMarch 29, 2016
And Still More on Nostalgia and Memoir Writing: Part 3

Post #228 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler
Even More on Helping Your Reader (and You) Remember
Memoir writing requires us to dig deeply into our past, to take an honest look at what we have done, to decide what to share with others. Memoir writing is time consuming and often difficult. That said, delving [...]

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More on Nostalgia and Memoir Writing: Writing Prompts Part 2

by Matilda ButlerMarch 15, 2016
More on Nostalgia and Memoir Writing: Writing Prompts Part 2

Once more, travel back through time with Matilda Butler’s writing prompts using photos that evoke nostalgia. Part 2 in this three-part series.

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Using Nostalgia in Your Memoir: Writing Prompts, Part 1

by Matilda ButlerMarch 8, 2016
Using Nostalgia in Your Memoir: Writing Prompts, Part 1

Travel back through time with Matilda Butler’s writing prompts using photos that evoke nostalgia.

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Memoir, Biography, Reflections on Family in Poetry

by Matilda ButlerFebruary 23, 2016
Memoir, Biography, Reflections on Family in Poetry

Kristiane Maas shares her mother’s memoir vignette — remembering her grandfather. You just might want to consider using poetry as a memoir form.

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