Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Memoir Project is Like Planting a Colorful Flower Garden-3 Essential Steps!

Let’s assume that you already agree that there is tremendous value in writing your life stories to share with future generations. We know that stories that are not preserved are forever lost. So just for fun, we are going to compare memoir writing to planting a vivid flower garden.

Three similar steps are:

1-Start your flower garden with forethought and planning. What do you wish to plant and where?

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
In memoir writing, we also need a logical plan. Without one, many memoir projects will never materialize. Your plan needs two elements:

A-Start by making a memoir list. Jot down any pertinent memories that you may wish to include in your project. These are just short memory bytes rather than lengthy tales at this point. It is just enough of a notation to remind you of the memory. It is not necessary to list the memories in chronological order, as you can write your stories in any order and rearrange them later.

Continuing to add the memory list will be an ongoing process and is your best resource for producing stories about your life.

B-Think about the people for whom you are writing your stories--children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. Write their names on a piece of paper as a perpetual reminder of the importance of sharing your life experiences with them. Think about what you would like for them to know.

As you write your memoirs, give your readers the details they need to know. You want them to feel as though they are seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, feeling exactly what you felt. Don’t assume that they already know these details, and keep in mind that future generations very likely will not. Your readers need sensory details, but not so overdone that your story bogs down and loses steam because of their inclusion.

2-Prepare the area for planting. You wouldn’t begin to plant your seeds in an area that had not been properly cleaned, weeded and the soil readied for the seeds to be inserted.

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
With a memoir project, it is helpful to clear the path for serious reflection of highlights, pertinent incidents, people and places that made a substantial impact on your life or dramatically influenced your path.

How to properly prepare?

A) Clear out a good location for writing--one where you will be undisturbed and undistracted. A designated area that is free of clutter will be beneficial for allowing the memories to flow, or you may choose to relocate to a library, coffee shop, park, lake, beach  or another favorite location in order to achieve complete focus.

B) Bring a few memory joggers with you such as old photos, diaries, journals, letters or calendars. These will assist you in adding to your memory list and generating more stories.

C) Be determined to allow your memory list to grow. Feed it regularly! One memory leads to many others, so keep your memory list handy for the convenience of including additional entries.

D) Skip perfection at this point in the project. The important goal, at this time, is to capture the memories and write the stories. The process of pruning, polishing, shining the product will be accomplished in the final stages.

3-Grow the seeds into beautiful, blossoming flowers-This takes time, water, nurturing and some applications of Miracle-Gro.

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
A memoir project typically does not blossom overnight. It is a work-in-progress that requires baby steps over a period of time; however, just remember that each finalized story brings us that much closer to providing a priceless legacy to pass along to loved ones and future generations. It is a commitment that is renewable daily in order to reach the goal. Just like the spectacular flower garden, it requires time, nurturing, attention and substance in order to flourish.

Are you ready to begin planting your memoir garden today?

A special thank you to Colleen Djajadiredja for permission to use her gorgeous photos for this post!

Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!


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