Thursday, July 25, 2013

Triggering story ideas for your memoir

This is your own personal, private worksheet.

It might take you days or weeks to come up with answers
but go ahead and get started.
The purpose of this exercise is to remember significant people
and situations, 
some of which will trigger story ideas for your memoir,
stories that will inspire your readers
and help them navigate through their own lives.

What is the most courageous act you’ve witnessed? The most cowardly? What did you learn from them?

What was the happiest day of your life? The saddest? How did those days change you?

Who was your best childhood friend? High school friend? College friend? Adult friend? How did he/she shape your life?

Who was your favorite older person when you were a child? Why was he/she so special?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What was your favorite childhood book? Why? How did it impact you?

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past ten years? How did it influence you?

Who was your favorite teacher/professor/coach and how did he/she shape your life?

Who/what disappointed you most in your childhood? Adulthood? How?

What was the biggest “Aha!” moment of your life?

What makes you scared? Happy?

What has been your most serious health issue? How did it impact your life?

List two or three crossroads in your life. Where did your decisions take you? What would your life have been like if you had made different decisions at those pivotal moments?

If you could undo one foolish choice, what would it be?

What was the funniest thing you ever said or did? The saddest or worst?

Who or what taught you the importance of honesty? When were you hurt because someone lied to you? How did those incidents shape you into who you are today? 

When did you give up and quit? When did you refuse to give up and quit?

What was the proudest moment of your life? The most humiliating?

What was the most generous act you’ve witnessed? The most selfish? How did they impact you?

What was the hardest decision you’ve ever made? What was the outcome?

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made? What did you learn from it?

What was your biggest disappointment? Did you discover a “silver lining” afterward?

How did you learn about God? What is your opinion of Him?

What’s your favorite song? Movie? Poem? How have they molded your life?

What important thing do you want to experience before you die? Why?

Here’s something else to ponder: In The Shelter of God’s Promises, Sheila Walsh tells of receiving a letter from a woman about her illness, financial problems, and a broken marriage. Sheila writes, “Amid her description of all these hardships, one line in the letter arrested my attention because of its profound simplicity: ‘I would not have made it this far without the promises of God.’” Sheila then asks us to think about our own experiences and fill in the following blank: “I would not have made it this far without _____________.”

How can you incorporate this, or something similar, in your memoir?

Finally—and of great importance—trace the ways God has led you: over mountains, through valleys, in sunshine and clouds, across deep waters, from beginning to end, because “In God’s unfailing love, He leads the people He has redeemed” (Exodus 15:13).

Always remember the things you’ve seen God do for you, 
and be sure to tell our children and grandchildren!
Deuteronomy 4:9


  1. Linda, extraordinary worksheet of triggers! Thanks for taking the time to compile it. I'm definitely sharing it.


    1. Extraordinary for sure. You have inspired me to overcome my writer's block (AGAIN!) and return to writing. Your blog is like an online course for reluctant writers. Thanks from another grateful fan.

    2. Sherrey and Jamie Jo, I'm delighted if you found help and/or inspiration here! I asked God to help me write a helpful post, so He gets the credit! Keep writing, dear friends, all of us need to read your stories!
      Love to you both,

  2. Replies
    1. Ah, Lia, thanks for stopping by. If you found something helpful or inspirational, then God answered my prayers for ways to write a relevant post for all of you. We are all in this together. We need each other. God is good to give us this little writing community. :)


  3. Oh Linda, this list is so rich in thought-provoking writing prompts. I will share it. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, sweet Kathy, for your kind words and for sharing this with others. Like I said to Lia above, we are all in this together, we need each other, and God has given us this nice little writing community.

      Hugs and smiles to you, Kathy,

  4. This is a great list of prompts, something that will definitely come in handy if I get stuck for topics to write about in my blog! Thank you. Cathy

    1. Cathy, you are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your kind comments. I want to read your memoir one of these days so keep writing!