Journal Writing for Memoir: Clarify Your Purpose & Direction

by Amber Lea Starfire on January 21, 2012

catnav-journaling-activePost #52
Memoir Writing, Journaling
by Amber Lea Starfire

letters

You’ve decided to write a memoir, or at least to record some memories on paper, and you have a general sense of your reading audience. Perhaps you’re writing a legacy of story for your children and grandchildren, or you hope to publish your stories for a broader audience. Either way, you need to understand your reasons for writing and what you hope to gain from putting your life stories on paper.

The basic—Why are you writing?—may also give way to more complex questions, such as, What’s different about your story? Why will anyone want to read it? What will your family think? Aren’t you afraid of revealing family secrets?

Fortunately,  journaling can help you clarify the purpose for your writing and the form it will take. Journal writing is, at a basic level, an informal letter writing practice, but instead of writing to someone else the intended recipient is yourself. You can use the letter writing form to its full advantage by making it a more conscious, intentional, and focused practice.

Letter writing—a lost art in this day of electronic communications—is an empowering, expressive act. It encourages honesty and straightforwardness, as well as a more natural written voice. Used creatively, writing letters from different points of view can help you gain understanding about different aspects of your story, including setting and character development. And it can help resolve confusion about which direction you should take.

If you need a little clarity about your memoir writing—and who doesn’t?—try one or more of the following journal/letter writing prompts. The results may surprise you.

  • Write a letter to your memoir audience telling them what to expect and why they should read your story.
    -
  • Pretend you are writing to a friend. Tell her your story in the letter.
    -
  • Write a letter to a family member you plan to include in your story, explaining what you will write about and why. Address that person’s concerns about how he or she will be portrayed and how you feel about it.
    -
  • As the narrator of your story write a letter to the real life you explaining the narrator’s point of view and time-frame used for the story. Will you narrate the story in the present or past tense, from a point near or distant in time? Will you analyze and reflect or allow scenes to speak for themselves?  Explain your position to the real-life you.
    -
  • Write a letter of advice from your future self—the self who has completed your memoir—to your “today” self about the process and benefits of writing your story.
    -
  • Write a letter to an editor defending the facts of your story.
    -
  • Pretend you are one of the characters in your memoir. Write a letter to the narrator or to another character, expressing your point of view about the story’s events.

After you’ve played with one or more of these prompts, I invite you to share what you discovered about your story, a character, or yourself, by leaving a comment.

__________________________________

For creative ways to use your journal, as well as writing tips and prompts, be sure to connect with me on Writing Through Life.

Related Articles:
A Writer’s Journal

Journaling a Conversation with Yourself
Using Your Journal for Memoir

__________________________________

Image Credit: Arslan
-
reflective journaling

{ 1 trackback }

Journaling for Memoir: Clarify Your Purpose & Direction — Memoir ... | Journal For You! | Scoop.it
January 22, 2012 at

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Herring January 23, 2012 at

Amber,
I find all of these points of view approaches to be a fascinating and insightful practice toward determining your purpose and direction with writing memoir. You have really represented a variety of ways to clarify and understand where you want to go with your story.

I have chosen your post, Journal Writing for Memoir: Clarify Your Purpose and Direction, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 1/23/12 for all things journaling on Twitter.
I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal:http://www.refreshwithdawnherring.blogspot.com/.

The next #JournalChat Live for all things journaling is on Thursday, 1/26/12, at 5 EST/2 PST on Twitter; our topic is Your Journaling: Checking In.

Thanks again for this insightful and purposeful journaling approach to clarify your story in memoir.

Be refreshed,
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance
Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter

Sharon Lippincott February 11, 2012 at

Amber,

You really zero in on the meat of the matter with these questions. They are strong enough to break through just about any confusion and hesitation. I’m going to work through a few before I file them away. Thanks!

And congratulations on having this post spotlighted by Dawn. Well deserved!

Amber Lea Starfire February 12, 2012 at

Thank you Dawn and Sharon for your complimentary comments :-) . Sharon, after you work through a few of the prompts, please share what you learned in the process.

Leave a Comment

Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Interviews Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category Writing Prompts Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category StoryMap Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Writing and Healing Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Scrapmoir Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Book Business Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category Memoir Journal Writing Category News Category News Category News Category