The Page a Day Writers Group

Start a Journal on Memorial Day

Posted on: June 1, 2010

How many of us wish we’d written down a few more anecdotes about time spent with loved ones before they passed on, while the memories were still fresh? Thinking of those whose lives were cut short while in military service, the stories of who they were and what they believed in live on in our reminiscences, but I hope more folks are taking the time to capture some of their stories in writing. Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of setting an entire life down on the page- start with the first memory that comes to mind and take ten minutes to write it down. Voila! Family history in the making. Don’t get bogged down in perfection; you can always go back later to polish it.

Ten years ago I self-published “A Pocket Memoir Journal.” My goal was to seed the thought that if we start noting reminiscences now- one memory at a time- we will create a legacy for future generations. Carry a journal small enough to fit in your pocket or purse so you can write whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Here are a few prompts to start you on the road to compiling your family history.

Anchoring

How did your day begin? Is today a typical day for you or is it unusual in some way? What have you learned in conversations you’ve had today? What have you learned from your solitude? What did you enjoy today? What bothered you? Write whatever comes to mind.

“Mundane” details will not be mundane to future generations. Family members will value a glimpse into your day-to-day life- something they would have no way of knowing otherwise.

Names

Why were you given your name? If you were named after someone, did you know the person? What place did that person have in your life and how have you felt to be his/her namesake? Describe the person you were named for. How are you different or similar to that person? If you were not named for someone, what has your name meant to you?

If you have children, why did you give them the names you chose?

Places

Describe some of the places you’ve lived. Make a floor plan to jog your memory and go on a room-to-room tour. As you go through each room, note what you remember happening there- favorite and sad memories about your life while you lived there.

What hung on the walls of your bedroom? What did you see outside your windows? Where did you like to read? What did you eat for dinner? What made you feel better when you were sad?

Sometimes people don’t want to write about anything but the most exciting parts of their lives. That’s fine except then your readers miss out on the smaller details which, sewn together, give a more in-depth picture of who you were and are.

Write on,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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4 Responses to "Start a Journal on Memorial Day"

I love this idea. Even if you don’t have hours to sit and journal, just these brief thoughts will be a treasure in the future.

Great tips, Ondine! I know I don’t have the time to journal anymore, but I have always made notes in my little datebooks (religiously purchased each year and carried in my purse), a quick reminder about what we did, who with and jotting down cute comments the kids made. I love having these little buoys amidst the flow of daily life so that those wonderful memories don’t slip away.

I wish I’d read this when my kids were younger. Working full time and trying to keep all my ducks in a row, this short version of journaling never occured to me. It’s never too late to start, though, right?

Absolutely- never too late!

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The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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