Journal Prompts for Memoir Writing
Memoir writing prompts can serve many purposes. Perhaps you're recording the life story of a parent or grandparent and looking for good questions to ask them. Maybe you love to journal and your morning pages could use a little inspiration. Alternatively, you might write or blog about your life and are suffering from writer's block. Use these prompts as a tool for self-growth and self-reflection. Writing through painful experiences, especially, helps us to gain narrative control. Memoir writing supports us to dissect our stories and have an objective view with which to make sense of our memories and ourselves.
Turn off your phone, pour a beverage of choice, grab something to write with, turn on some background music, and dive into these journal prompts. Keep in mind it's best to write down every single detail you can about these experiences or events.
- Write about a time you were betrayed. What happened? How did you react? What lasting impact or implications were there? What belief did this experience turn on its head?
- You've travel back in time and encounter a younger version of yourself. Where are you? What are you doing? What life lesson do you share? How do you feel towards the version of. your younger self?
- What do you remember about your parents' relationship? How did your understanding of their relationship influence your own romantic partnerships?
- Write about a film you saw that made you cry. Where did you see it? What scene made you cry? Why did it strike a chord?
- Share the story of a time you did something that you thought you'd never do.
- Jot down 3 ways people have consistently described you throughout your life. Maybe you've been labled the funny guy or people have always remarked on how easy it is for them to open up to you. Do you perceive yourself the same way? Why or why not?
- Think of one thing you are insecure about. Now, write down a moment that is defined by that insecurity or the story of how it was born.
- Who, or what, was your first love? This can be a person but it could be something like your first car, a hobby, a feeling, etc. What comes to mind when you think about that first love?
- Describe a memorable argument you've had. What was it about? How did it feel? What led up to it? How did it end?
- Pretend an artist wants to paint a self-portrait of you but they can only use objects. What objects would you give them? What things, when compiled, would essentially represent you and your life?
- What makes you nostalgic?
- Pull out a high school year book. Write down thoughts prompted by browsing through it.
- Write about a time where reality did not meet your expectations.
- Consider this quote: "It is the tragedies that define our lives. They are the fence posts on which the rest of our lives hang." What tragedies have defined your life? Pick one to write about.
- Think about a place that you've lived. Describe it in immense detail. Who were you when you lived in this home? What specific memories that come to mind when you recall each room or space?
- Describe a time you voted and what it meant to you. What was at stake? What was the outcome? How did it feel?
- Share the most interesting encounter you've had with a stranger.
- What do you love about social media? What do you hate about it?
- List the friends you've had at various stages of life. Expand on one. How did you meet? What is memorable about that person? Did anything about your friendship deeply impact you?
- Make a list of things you've owned or used that are rarely, if ever, seen nowadays (i.e. waterbeds, cuckoo clocks, rotary phones, floppy discs, overhead projectors, etc.). Select one to write a story about.
- Go through the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) and write down memories associated with each.
- Finish the sentence 'I wish I truly understood everything that led me to...'
- Think of two parts of your identity that seem to be at odds with each other (i.e. being a mom and a business owner, being a romantic and afraid of commitment). Spend some time exploring these parts of your personality or identity. They might feel separate and discord, but upon closer investigation do they relate? How might they actually connect and nurture one another?