Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Your memories: How can you retrieve them for your memoir?

God’s heart longs for us to remember the marvelous things He has done (Psalm 105:5), but we tend to forget. (See Saturday’s blog post* if you missed it.)

Memories are vital components of memoirs, so how can we retrieve the faded ones?

In addition to Saturday’s suggestions,* sketch a house floor plan and/or the neighborhood you lived in during an important segment of your life.

While you draw, memories will bubble up and percolate.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try! While you sketch, make notes to yourself about experiences and people intertwined with those memories.

For example, here’s my neighborhood from age three to eight. While I worked on it, memories surfaced and I penciled them in around the edges.

Not every memory will result in a vignette for your memoir, but the exercise helps you step back in time and remember many things you forgot.

But that is just the beginning!

This is very important: In Spiritual Memoirs 101, we go beyond digging up memories. Within our memories, we search for greater treasures: what God was doing in and for and through us at the time.

Let’s review elements of memoir:

Pondering, examining, unraveling, musing, and reflecting are necessary ingredients in memoirs. In the writing process, examine what God was doing—as you see it now, in retrospect. Look for deeper lessons God had for you in the events of your life.

Looking back, what did you learn about yourself?

What patterns in your faith did you discover that you hadn’t noticed before?

What did you learn about God?

Do you now have a better understanding of God’s purpose for your life?

How did the experience change your life? What new person did you become?

How did the experience strengthen your faith for future challenges?

When your memories come out of hibernation, give yourself plenty of time to examine them and ask yourself the above questions.

I suspect that in many cases, you’ll be surprised to discover God has been more involved in your life than you recognized.

Remember! Then, write your stories!

P.S. Be sure to look over the blogs and other resources
I’ve posted for you in the right column.

*Related post:


  1. Linda,
    The diagram of childhood homes is a wonderful idea!. It is similar to the "Places I've Lived "exercise I did in a memoir writing workshop with Jerry Waxler. We listed all the places we had lived and described the house,neighborhood and inevitably many different scenes from those times and places popped out. I am still pulling stories from this exercise.
    I love your questions. They are a great guide for getting focused.Thanks again, Linda,for posting exactly what I need :-)

  2. Jerry's workshops sound like treasures! It's wonderful that such exercises have yielded so many memories and stories for you.

    My hope and prayer is that such exercises will also encourage us to discover what God was doing for and in and through us during those eras. For me, it's only in taking time to look back that I see God was orchestrating my life in ways I failed to recognize earlier, and that encourages my faith in God for today and so many unknowns in my tomorrows.

    Thanks for your comments, Kathy, and I am so eager to read your memoir! :)