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Monday, August 15, 2016

Sparking memories to fire up writing

Attending my wife's high school class reunion, the conversation turned toward "remembering" through writing.  Many great ideas about sharing memories came into play, but one that came from their former 4th grade teacher seemed especially worthy of putting down here as we begin another new week.


She said she had received what she called "A starter book" for Christmas.  In that, each page had a starter heading that was more or less "a prompt" for the individual to keep going.  It would start with something like, "Every year as we celebrated the arrival of Spring, we would...."  or "May Day was a great time for students in our school when I was young.  We always liked to..."


While the prompt that was there always wasn't apropos, she said it usually spurred something else in her memory and she had not missed a single day in putting down a "full" new book. 


That also reminded me of an exercise that two friends from St. Olaf College developed for their Elderhostel class that they created.  Bruce Roberts and Howard Thorsheim, both professors of psycyhology at St. Olaf, came up with something they called "Bring A Thing."  They would gather seniors together to talk about their childhood memories and also ask each one to bring one thing that was remindful of a special time in their lives.  Bring a thing sparked dozens of conversations and often led to people at the gatherings leaving fired up to write down things that they had not spoken about for years -- providing a stimulating exercise for themselves and great memories for their families.


It seems as if anyone who teaches writing always tells would-be writers to remember that each has a "starter" story -- something from their own lives.  Reunions, whether they be class style, family or community, truly can be a stimulus for getting the ink flowing toward that end.  Happy writing as you recall your "Writer's moments."

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