I’ve been gathering writing prompts and tips for my upcoming Chautauqua workshop on Mining Your Memories and thought I’d share a few. Writers who want to craft authentic works must be willing to dive into the well of personal experience. Whether you’re crafting fantasy or nonfiction, your experience matters . . . especially your emotional experience. To write authentically, you must be willing to tap into your emotional past.
- Accept that your experiences matter. This is tough, I know. But only one person will ever live the life you’ve lived: you! If you don’t tap into your life’s experiences, no one ever will. My first kiss was in a friend’s playhouse. I must have been about six years old. Where was yours?
- Get in touch with your body’s memories–every experience that has affected your body, from a bruise to a birthing, is remembered at a cellular level. Take a deep breath and ask your body’s aches and pains to share what they remember. For example, my neck has been stiff for more than ten years from an auto accident. I can write about what it feels like to keep going despite a chronic pain.
- Write from your shadow self as well as your acceptable self. We all have a shadow self . . . the parts of ourselves we’ve labeled “unacceptable” because parents, society, church, school, or some other entity told us those parts were not OK. Ask your shadow self to come out of hiding and use what it remembers in your writing. For example, my shadow self once punched someone in the nose. Since I’ve experienced that, if I have a character do such a thing, I know what it feels like, emotionally and physically.