Post #139 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Memoir Writing as Habit
Recently an article in The Wall Street Journal quoted William James, the philosopher:
“Ninety-nine hundredths of our activity is purely automatic. All of our life is nothing but a mass of habits.”
And thank goodness. If we had to pay attention to each and everything we did — from opening our eyes in the morning, getting out of bed, brushing our teeth and tying our shoes to finding the right button on the television remote to mute the commercial, washing and drying a dish, turning on the alarm and turning off the light at night — we’d never have time for our important activities. Habits keep us moving forward in life and let us pay attention to the unpredictable, to the more complex, to the difficult situations.
Enter the Memoir Habit
As memoir writers and storytellers, we are interested in the intersection between habit, more specifically the creative habit, and attention. Writing isn’t mindless. Writing requires concentration. Writing is thoughtfulness. Memoir writing is best when we dig deep, when we reflect.
However, a memoir writing habit is needed because without it we always have an excuse to not write. Breakfast needs to be prepared. More bananas should be purchased. Mother (or daughter, or son, or grandchild) should be called. Emails are to be answered. Dinner in the oven is to be checked. And so on throughout the day until it’s once again time for bed.
A memoir writing habit, however, shouts: “I’m important. I’m on the list. The day isn’t compete without me.”
We’ve talked about the creative habit multiple times on this site. In looking back at some (just type “habit” in the search box in the right column) of these articles, I was surprised how many times this topic gets introduced even when it is not the main focus. Not only do Kendra and I mention the importance of a writing habit, but Amber Starfire in some of her inspiring articles on journal writing also discusses journaling habits.
Memoir Writing Prompt
1. Here’s my memoir writing prompt for today (and every day) — WRITE ONE SENTENCE.
That’s it. Just write one sentence. Of course, it should be a good sentence, an interesting sentence, a thought you’d like to share. If you’re lucky that one sentence will be like eating one good Maui potato chip. You have a second and a third and so on.
The habit it sitting to write the one sentence. That’s all you need time for. Everyone has time for one sentence, even in a busy, complicated or painful life. That is enough. Return tomorrow for another sentence.
Then, some days you will become so interested in that sentence, in what it is saying or trying to say, that you continue to write.
And so the creative writing habit is formed and nurtured.