Writing Your Life Week of January 1st

January 1, 2016 Prompt

Prepare a timeline of events that span your birth to age 18.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you will never get your memoir written unless you start! Start anywhere but START!

I find it easiest when teaching writing classes to begin with lists, progress to sentences then paragraphs, and finally put it all together.  I suggest that you do the same.

Make list after list after list – this way you will never have a reason to cry Writer’s Block because your list of writing ideas is right on hand.

The most important list is the TIMELINE. This timeline will serve as your anchor as you write your stories. You can return to it over and over again to spark your memory or find details to add to your stories.

sample timeline

What do you add to your timeline? Choose a year and think about all that happened in that year: you were born, a sibling was born, someone was hospitalized, a world event happened, you lost someone or found someone, you started a new job, a new school, etc. Do a search on the Internet to find out what was happening in that year and add it to your timeline.

We will start with your childhood years – birth to 18 years. Spend this week filling in as much as you can of this timeline. When you are finished filling in the timeline, circle the very important events (those that had a hand in shaping who you are today). These are events you can come back to and perhaps turn into full memoirs. If you are very industrious, go ahead and write a few paragraphs about one or more of the events in your timeline.

  • All of these prompts are meant to keep you writing. Try not to think about grammar, etc. as you write. Right now we are trying to just get the memories on paper (or computer).
  • Save everything you write on your computer and/or in a folder. (I highly suggest printing and saving your work in hard copy just in case your computer crashes!)
  • Next year, we can work on putting everything together! For now, just get those memories out of you!


On This Day http://www.onthisday.com/

The People History http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/  Find the fashion, politics, news, population stats, etc. for a particular year or decade here.

Join the Writing Your Life 2016 group on Facebook!

About Karen Y. Hamilton

Walt Whitman says about his autobiography, Specimen Days “…At any rate I obey my happy hour’s command, which seems curiously imperative. May-be, if don’t do anything else, I shall send out the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed.” This is what I feel at this juncture of my life, the need to gather together memories of my ancestors as well as my own memories into some semblance of order. Because all of those fragments, all of the fragments that make up any life, become stories. I am the mother of three sons, who affectionately (I hope!) call me 'gypsy mom' because I tend to wander around a bit soaking in the universe's wonders. I am currently working towards an MFA in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University. I have published essays with Heritage Press, Florida Living, and the St. Pauls Review. I am currently working on a book of poems about the Florida Everglades pioneers and a memoir about grief and the bonds of friendship. I live in my hometown, Jupiter, Florida and work as a freelance writer and curriculum specialist.
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