Behold! These memoir prompts have consistently ranked as the most viewed post on Word Bank Writing & Editing, and I wanted to bring feature them again for those who may have missed out the first time around. I’m currently booked with editing projects through the end of the year, so contact me now if you need to reserve a spot for 2016. Most importantly, know thyself. All good writers should follow that advice. Based on my creative nonfiction post, Confessions of a Motley Crue Fool, I hope it’s now apparent just how seriously I take my own suggestions.
The following questions function as memoir prompts that can serve many purposes, such as an idea for a last minute blog post. They will take you through a year’s worth of memoir writing if you do one a week. Or perhaps you would rather pick and choose the ones you find most appealing. At the very least, they can be used to fight writer’s block. Remember that writing about something is better than staring blankly and writing about nothing at all.
Make each one as long or as short as you see fit. However, limiting yourself to 300-500 words would be a great exercise in conciseness. Focus on appealing to all five senses. As always, aim to show rather than tell.
#1: Was there anything unusual or unique about your birth?
#2: What is your earliest memory?
#3: What is your first memory about your siblings, parents, pets, toys, or house?
#4: What is your happiest childhood memory? Your saddest?
#5: How have childhood favorites impacted you? (toys, cartoons, books, etc.)
#6: Were your parents good parents?
#7: What event in your childhood had the most impact on your life as an adult?
#8: What is your first memory about school?
#9: Was learning to read and write a struggle for you?
#10: Who was your favorite teacher?
#11: What was your favorite subject in school?
#12: Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities?
#13: What clique did you belong to?
#14: What do you wish you would have learned more about in school?
#15: What schoolmate had the most impact on your life? In what way?
#16: Who was your first best friend? How did they influence your life?
#17: What did you learn about yourself in high school?
#18: What was the first moment you felt truly grown up or independent?
#19: How old were you when you began to drive?
#20: Who gave you your first kiss?
#21: Who was your first love?
#22: What is your best memory as a teenager with your friends?
#23: What was the best party you went to when you were a teenager?
#24: What was your first job?
#25: How much was your first paycheck and what did you do with it?
#26: What moment in your life have you felt most loved?
#27: Which one of your parents are you most like?
#28: Was graduating from high school a big event?
#29: Has education played an important role in your life?
#30: What have you done that you never thought you would do?
#31: What was the greatest challenge of your life so far?
#32: What do you wish you had done differently in your life?
#33: Who do you wish you could see again?
#34: Who was the lost love of your life?
#35: What word would you most like people to associate with you?
#36: Who was the biggest influence (positive or negative) on your life?
#37: How were your belief systems formed? (religion, politics, family, etc.)
#38: What is great about your life right now?
#39: What could be better about your life?
#40: To what degree has technology shaped your life in the past 10 years?
#41: When is the last time you learned to do something new?
#42: Does your career make you happy?
#43: How is your family unique?
#44: Is your significant other your best friend?
#45: What do your pet peeves reveal about you?
#46: What do your tastes reveal about you? (food, music, clothes, books, etc.)
#47: How many life goals have you attained?
#48: What regrets do you have?
#49: What do you think the future holds for you?
#50: Do you spend more time planning for the future or living in the moment?
#51: What will your retirement be like?
#52: What will your obituary say about you?
Other prompts will come to you as you draft, so why not write them down in your writer’s notebook? You never know when it might come in handy.
What do you like and dislike about reading and/or writing memoirs? What memoir prompts would you add to the list?
Image Credit: Help by Kosta Kostov