I’ve been writing and sharing memoir with a small group of friends for several years. Although we normally have a topic to write about, we have reached a point where the diversity of our groups makes it more difficult to find a topic that everyone is comfortable with. Our group includes members of various ages and often the older members will say, write about where you were on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, or something specific from that era. I wasn’t even born then.
The exercises in Alan Zielger’s book The Writing Workshop Note Book, have given me an idea to not only come up with new ideas, but also to organize some of my stories. He suggests dividing your age into segments. For example birth to 5 years of age. Six to ten, etc.
As I started segmenting my life into 5 year segments I was amazed at the ideas that appeared on my list.
From birth to five I remembered a picture of me with my mother in Wenden, AZ. We were moving to California from the Midwest. I was just an infant. I must call my older brother and see what he remembers from that trip.
During that first five years I also listed, first day of school. When I looked into my photo album and saw the picture of my kindergarten teacher I listed her name as well as the name of my best friend.
Under each five-year segment I started listing all of the important as well as the unimportant things that came to mind. Even silly little memories about how your mother made you wear your hair might be the starting point of a poignant memory.
These may not all pan out as complete stories, but at least they give me something to think about. If this helps you generate new stories about your life, please let me know.