The main branch of my town library invited three instructors to lead creativity workshops for folks 50+ years old. I had the pleasure of running the workshop on memoir and life story writing with three different groups of participants.
I’d worried beforehand that the evening was packing too many activities (drumming, collage making, and writing) into too short an amount of time, that people would be exhausted halfway through the activities, and saunter home to bed before it was over.
But the night crackled with excitement. One man even shouted, when I said we only had a minute to go, “But you promised us 4 more minutes!”
After writing the difference among autobiography, memoir, life stories, family history, and genealogy, on an easel, I handed out prompts to get people writing right there in our section of the children’s library.
Life Story Writing Prompts
Here are a few of the writing suggestions I provided participants. At the end of this list, you’ll see the ones most people chose.
- the first house you lived in, as a child
- something you’ve struggled with for years
- myths prevalent in your family, for example, “She’s the pretty one, he’s the smart one, this other one is the athletic one.”
- what your birth order meant in your family
- your favorite jokes, and why you love them
- a near miss in your life
- a time when someone didn’t stand up for you
- a secret you discovered
- Complete the phrase: “I thought I would be more (or less) _____________by now.”
Of these, most people wrote about their first house, something they’ve struggled with, their favorite jokes, or “I thought I would be more (or less) __________ by now.” The birth order prompt generated intense, and even hilarious, discussion when those who wrote on that topic read their pieces to the group.
Participants also wrote about:
- an accomplishment they were proud of
- a trip they took that revealed something, and
- why they love writing—or hate it
Subscribe to this blog to be notified when I discuss “a secret you discovered” in a post about writing family histories.
Get inspired by excerpts from life stories by Boston seniors.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Writing Stories from Your Life.
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