Write about those moments you never forget.
Don’t just react emotionally to old memories. Capture and interrogate them to find another layer of meaning.
As an exercise, recall the day.
From the time you got up to now. Use only concrete detail. Name objects (bed, plates, food, biscuits, water) and events (walks, work, conversations) and people (friends and strangers).
Don't tell us how you felt. Just show us what you noticed and how you reacted to what happened about you.
1. Write ‘Who Am I?’ at the top of ten index cards or pieces of paper.
2. Then write rapidly answering the question without censoring in ten different ways.
3. Now put these away in a drawer.
4. After four weeks open the drawer and imagine these were written by someone else.
5. Order the cards or slips of paoer in importance and ask :
a. What do these cards tell you about this person?
b. What things are most important?
c. What types of things would this person enjoy doing?
d. If this person had six months to live, how would he spend his time?
The journal is one way of freeing yourself from the misguided belief that 'Writing Should be Important and For a Lofty Purpose' and remind yourself that 'writing about nothing is always worth doing'.
You will find that it will supplement and stimulate all of your writing. Never stop keeping a journal, even when busy with other work. It will always be a source of inspiration.
You are the filter for what you see, hear, taste, touch and smell in this world. You must own your experience, every detail of it, to write well. Each experience builds into a bigger picture. When you report where you are, what you see, taste, touch, feel and smell, you also release what is inside of you.
Be sensitive to all experience, no matter how small and you will be more deeply informed, often leading you to discoveries about relationships, places and yourself.
Write about those subjects that are surrounded with strong feelings. For instance, divorce, parenting, fighting a war or visiting a foreign country could be among your topics. Ask yourself “What do I hate or love about … ?” Do not answer with generalities. Be specific. List the smells, sounds, tastes, sights and textures of the event, place or person.
Smell, taste, hear, see and touch what you are writing about as if for the first time. Avoid writing about your attitude towards the subject and instead, let the images and details of the experience speak for themselves.
You may be angry, you may be sad, you may be livid. It might be about something that happened yesterday, or ten years ago.
Now, this can be tough, but ‘eat the cold’: look that moment in the face and plot it out as a series of events. In other words, instead of telling us how you felt, tell us what happened.
Next, step into character. Be the person who caused the most pain. What motivated him to act this way? Test out different scenarios.
What happens if you handled things differently? What have you learnt? Would you act differently next time?
Digest the emotions just as your body digests food. Get rid of the junk and keep the energy.
Use your obsessions, infatuations, and confusions in your writing. What interests you?
Write a list of all the things you believe and those things you don’t. Once you know this, you will know where to look to find your stories.
Take a slice of life and ask ‘What if?’ ‘What if' drives everything when it comes to writing stories.
A list of interesting things and subjects and topics.
A list of your obsessions. Obsessions make great stories.
A list of your fears.
A list of those things, people and places you love.
A list of those things, people and places you hate.
A list of the times when something memorable and interesting happened in your life.
Your memories contain the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells of your original experience. To step back in time, focus on just one sense.
Which sense to begin with? Ask yourself ‘What do I remember first?’ Is it an image, sound, smell or texture? Describe this first moment in detail to begin your journey into the past.