Ten ways writing memoir can revitalise your creativity
Try these top tips on using life writing as a creative tool from Eve Makis and Anthony Cropper, authors of The Accidental Memoir
We've seen the evidence in dozens of writing workshops with a diverse range of people. Writing, thinking, and reflecting on your life, develops creativity. We’re all creative and we can all learn to become more creative by writing about our lives. Don’t believe us? Here are ten reasons to convince you.
1. Writing about memories is in itself a creative act
There's a whole stack of research that supports the idea that writing is good for us, that it helps us feel better, that it helps us become more creative. Go ahead. Relive some of those experiences.
2. Organising memories is a creative act
Once you start collecting stories you might want to start to organise them into a memoir. Which do you include? What do you leave out? Are there any themes? Do you tend to focus on a particular place or particular people? Treat you memories like a collage. Shuffle them. Have fun. There's no right or wrong.
3. Giving structure to memories is a creative act
When we write about a particular experience we give it a beginning, a middle, and an end. We impose a structure. Where do you start and finish? How do you keep us interested? What happens in the middle? How is it all resolved?
4. Finding different ways to tell your life experiences is a creative act
When we tell a true story we still use techniques employed in fiction. We have tension, an inciting incident; rising conflict. You can tell the same story in 500, 250, 100, 50 or 6 words. We tell the same stories to different people in different ways. We play to the audience. We create.
5. Externalising topics can help creativity
The act of writing is an act of creation. Putting the story on paper or laptop externalises the events. It becomes something we can alter, edit, extend, or even delete. Writing can help us understand life. And that understanding is a creative act.
6. Creativity is an expression of energy
Some might dance, sing, paint or write. Our lives are filled with routine and we can often overlook the beauty of being alive. It takes energy to write. It takes even more energy to take all your writing and turn it into a memoir. You can do it. Find a way. Express yourself.
7. Writing about your life might help create other ideas
Many first novels are autobiographical. Write about your life and you might end up with a book, play, poem or film. Who knows where those life events will lead? Start with the truth then bend it, blend it, see where it goes. Releasing the backlog of experiences is freeing and cathartic and once you start you might not want to stop, even when you’ve run out of your own stories.
8. Mindfulness develops creativity
Writing memoir helps us to focus. It's like a meditation. Think about your favourite tree, an old cinema, first car. Focus on the tiniest details. Reflection helps us become more aware and helps us feel more in the moment.
9. Life writing can free you up
When you write don't worry about grammar or syntax or spelling. Just get your ideas down. You can always go back and edit. Writing leads to more writing. Write every day, even for a few minutes. Your creativity will start to flow.
10. Identity is linked to creativity
We tell ourselves we're not creative and we stifle creativity. Memoir explores instead of ignoring the self. It opens us up to emotions and self-expression. It makes us feel creatively alive
The Accidental Memoir (Eve Makis and Anthony Cropper, published by 4th Estate) is filled with prompts, quotes and links to wider reading.
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