Prospective memoir writing

Guest post by with Cheryl Stahle

Describe your perfect life; your goals, hopes, and dreams.  When exactly do you plan to invent this perfect life or at least create a timeline for launching the new you, version 2.0?   When you think in this fashion, you use a technique called prospective memoir writing.  Prospective memoir writing fits with flash writing technique as you want to work quickly to stop your internal editor who has a tendency to squash hopes and dreams.

To begin the prewriting process of a prospective memoir, start by answering a few basic questions in list format:

  1.  What do you plan to do?
  2. What do you hope for?

I find that writing these lists with infinitive phrases (remember from high school English?  To + verb) makes this list more active and reveals the heart of the possible in your life.

For example, in 2012 my plans and hopes include a few of the following:



 To fill my memoir writing workshops with new writers  To spend more time with my son before he leaves for
 To find a balance between work and writing  To find my memoir writing book inspiring readers to
 To replace the laundry room floor  To reunite with a long lost friend

My plans and hopes span all areas of my life.  With the launch of my new book, Slices of Life:  The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing, my plans and hopes skew towards this labor of love as the launch will consume most of the next year but I also find that with prospective memoir writing, all areas of your life can be touched simultaneously.  Beyond the book, for the remainder of 2012, I also plan to replace a floor and find a long lost friend.

When writing prospective memoirs, you want to continue list building by using nouns (person, place, thing) as part of your prewriting.  Create lists of the people, places and things that you anticipate to encounter in the upcoming year.

As with all good plans, challenges arise.  Looking at your lists, what challenges do you anticipate?  For example, I may want to reunite with a long lost friend but she may not want the same thing!  Definitely a challenge.  Or, I have never been able to successfully balance work and writing so what will make 2012 any different?  Consider the obstacles that you may encounter and also your present reality.  I may plan on replacing a floor but the reality is I don’t have a clue how to accomplish this task nor am I certain when I will actually have time to complete this.

Once you have completed your prewriting and have lists filled with hopes and plans, it’s time to create a piece of flash memoir.

This writing prompt launches you towards creating the perfect prospective memoir.

How do you design this journey and make it enjoyable along the way?

Let your pencil fall onto the paper and your dreams fill the page.   Give yourself 15-20 minutes to just write and let the hopes and plans fill your paper.

Write for the future as you hope it will be and try to uncover the path to help you realize your dreams.  Happy writing!

Cheryl Stahle’s latest release is Slices of Life:  the Art and Craft of Memoir Writing.  You can keep up with Cheryl’s adventures by liking Your Best Writing Group on Facebook or following her on Twitter @yourbestwriting.  Cheryl teaches English  and runs writing groups helping authors of all ages and abilities capture life stories. She lives in Bucks County, PA with her son and her writing partner, Sebastian the Wonder Cat. There will be many vignettes coming in the next year as Cheryl prepares for an empty nest and continues to write her next book.

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Categories: guest posts, writing exercises

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