Start with a List

Aug 15, 2021 | Life Story Prompts

Start with a blank page, either paper or word processing page. List every memory of your life that comes to mind. Don’t stop to think about each one, just write enough, a few words or sentence, so that you identify it. Keep going as long as you can recording as many memories as possible. Don’t censor yourself while making the list. No one else is going to see it. You are just brainstorming at this point and the more you can remember and get down on your list the better. Save the list to refer back to. Add to it as new memories come to mind.

Now pick the memory that calls loudest to you and write your story about it with detail and enthusiasm. Keep returning to your list, looking for what memories calls to be written up next.

Here’s more details on this method of writing a memoir starting with a list from Cyndy Etler. Her plan steps you through generating a long lists of prompts specific to your life. She provides guidance on choosing a prompt to start writing and then keep writing.

Cyndy Etler is the author of The Dead Inside a YA memoir about her experiences in an adolescent treatment program.


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