Flex Your Writing Muscles - Childhood Memories (Penny Rader)


Since we've been discussing the impact our childhood might or might not have had on our writing, I thought it could be fun to use writing prompts to delve into our childhoods.  Might give us great fodder for stories.  I hope you'll join in.  Feel free to share.

Free Creative Writing Prompts: Childhood  (Bryan Cohen)

  • How did the following things affect you during your childhood: music, books, the weather, money, love. You can combine them all into one story or do separate entries on each.
  • Write a poem about [y]our earliest childhood memory.
  • You have been given the opportunity to go backwards. You can pick an age and start over again from that age. Do you pick one or not? What age would you go to? Describe your first week with your "old person" memories in your younger body.

How to Write about Your Childhood — Autobiographical Writing (John Hewitt)

"Autobiographical Writing is an excellent way to work on your descriptive skills. When you describe items or memories from your past, you are able to provide details that are often lacking in more purely imaginative exercises. With autobiographical writing you learn how to describe what was rather than what isn’t."

Here a few examples of prompts given by John:

  • What was family life like as a child? How did you feel you fit into your family?
  • Write about your best friend as a child and the experiences you had together. What has happened to that friendship since childhood?
  • Describe your nemesis growing up. Who made your life miserable and what did they do to make it so rough?
  • What was the biggest trouble you got into as a child? Describe what you did or didn’t do to deserve what happened to you.

Reawaken Your Creativity By Revisiting Your Childhood Pleasures (Aileen McCabe-Maucher)

  • This week, honor the small child within yourself by revisiting the activities that brought you the most pleasure as a child. In your journal, make a list of all of the activities that you delighted in when you were a youngster. Think of the things that you used to do that made you lose track of time.
  • This week, spend at least thirty minutes doing the activity that brought you the most pleasure in your childhood. Give yourself permission to be silly and spontaneous.

What do you remember from your childhood? (Jo Middleton)

"I’ve always thought of myself as a person with a fairly poor long-term memory, but one exercise we did on my recent Arvon course made me realise that there are actually a lot of interesting sounds, sights and smells buried in the murky depths of my brain, if only I can dig around enough and find them under the layers of daily life."


"... exercise was based on an extract of a book called I Remember by Joe Brainard. We were asked to close our eyes and imagine being ten. We then wrote down everything we could remember about how being ten tasted, how it smelt, how it sounded and how it felt. It was amazing how easily one memory triggered another, and before long we were all reciting the most amazingly evocative childhood memories. You should give it a go, see what you come up with."

Writing Triggers for Family Memories (Virginia Allain)

Virginia provides "a fresh memory prompt or writing trigger each week here. Use it to prod your memory, then write down what you discover. Your memory writing may be just a paragraph or it could be five or six pages. As you find the memories flowing again, take advantage and get it into written form. ... You don't have to write about every aspect suggested. Choose a part that interests or inspires you and start writing the memories from your childhood."

Here’s one of her triggers:

Remember Something Precious to You

Think back to some object that was important or precious to you as a child. Describe it. Do you still have it or was it lost or broken or given away? Tell why you considered it special. Who gave it to you or how did you get it? Where did you keep it?

This could be something simple like a feather you found or something valuable like a ring given to you by your grandmother. Think back to something you treasured.



What do you think?  Care to share a memory or fictionalize a memory?  Do you have any prompts or exercises to creatively mine your memories?


Penny Rader said...

Is everyone being shy? Okay, I'll go first. Just for the heck of it, I'm adding in a couple that are purely fiction. You can guess which ones are true or not, if you like. :D

What I Remember About Being Ten

I remember:

Finally getting glasses so I could see.

My tenth birthday party at Grandma Simon's house -- I received a really pretty black purse (it's handle had a black strap woven through a gold chain) and a ball mitt.

Receiving my first kiss from a non-relative.

Finally having l-o-n-g hair, so I no longer had to bobby-pin a towel to my head for the long hair feeling when we were playing.

My long-sleeved purple dress. Loved it to pieces. Looked great with my go-go boots.

I became a big sister for the twelfth time.

Waking up in the middle of the night, absolutely sick to my stomach at the thought of having to go to school in a few hours. It wasn't learning itself I dreaded. It was lunchtime. We had to eat everything on our tray. If we didn't, the nuns and teachers force fed us. Maybe I'm the only one that happened to?

My teacher read to us during class. I thought it was so cool that someone else loved reading as much as I did. I don't really remember anyone reading to me before that, though I'm sure someone did.

Louise Behiel said...

Penny, good post. Interesting to think about using childhood events, memories or 'stuff' as a writing prompt. never crossed my mind. I'll give it some consideration. My truth is that I don't remember most of my childhood - it's all a black hole. so it's hard to milk for writing prompts.

happy new year, my friend

Anonymous said...

I follow your blog. I found today's post rather inviting. I had a rough childhood. I liked the thought of writing about starting life at a certain age and still having my lifelong memories. I will write it and post it on my own blog...

Keep with the ideas... thanx Raven

Reese Mobley said...

Wow, Penny. These are great links. Thanks for sharing.

Penny Rader said...

I hope you're having a wonderful 2012, Louise! I understand a bit about childhood being a black hole. My memories start when I'm five with just a couple earlier glimmers. A lot of my childhood is a blur.

Penny Rader said...

I'm glad you liked the post, Raven. I wish I had your gift with poetry.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks, Reese. So much to share, so little time. [grin] I'm glad I have a place to share some of the cool stuff I find.