Memoir Writing Tiny Tip #11: If It Works for Georgia O’Keeffe, It Just Might Work For You

by Matilda Butler on April 18, 2017

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #239 – Memoir Writing Tiny Tip – Matilda Butler



Memoir Writing Tip

Georgia O'Keeffe-inspired memoir writing tipA few months ago, I visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’d been there before, but each revisit to a museum is filled with the unknown, or not remembered. This time, I noticed that Georgia O’Keeffe created a small line drawing…just the outlines, for most of her paintings. Previously, when I looked at her work, I always imagined her standing in front of the canvas, brush in hand, eyeing the white blankness, and then starting to apply the paint to create the image she had in her head.

Georgia O'Keeffe-inspired writing tipNope. I was wrong. She used a pencil or charcoal to draw the outline of the separation between each color.

Sometimes when I teach memoir writing, I have students draw their story. This can be done a number of ways.

– Create a series of squares and populate them with the major scenes in your memoir. You don’t need to be an artist. Even stick figures will do.

– Draw the arc of your narrative that will be in your memoir. This will help you to not get bogged down as you proceed with your writing.

– Cut pictures from magazines and create a collage that describes the images and emotions you want to convey. This helps you understand where you are headed with your memoir.

– Use brief word phrases (a writer’s way of sketching) to layout your life story. This doesn’t need to be a formal outline, but it should be an aid that helps you proceed.

As a memoir coach, I’ve seen some amazing results from this technique. Give sketching a try and see if it helps you with your memoir.




How This Tiny Tip Series Started

The idea for a series of short writing tips came to me while reading the program notes for a chamber music concert. I realized that many (well, ok, most) of my blog articles get to be long and often require you to do certain things — like write from prompts I’ve provided. And while I will continue with this type of longer article because I think they are of value, I realized that sometimes as writers we just want a little bit of information or a small new idea or a thought stated differently. We don’t have a lot of time.

That’s the concept behind each Tiny Tip. Just a nugget to give you something to think about as you go through your busy day.

Enjoy.

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