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Memory is heavily tied to the senses. When you want to access old memories, the most beneficial action is to trigger your senses to put you back in that memory.
Senses can be triggered in any number of ways, and more than one sense can be triggered in the same event. Try working through some of these questions, and some of these actions, to help you recall old memories.
- What food did your grandparents eat? If you were around them when they made food, what did it smell like? What did it taste like? Recreate their favorite dishes. What does your experience with this food make you remember?
- Growing up, what did your house sound like? List all the sounds you can think of that were commonplace in your house. Try to find the sounds on the internet. What do those sounds make you remember?
- Growing up, what did your house smell like? List all the smells you can think of that wafted in the air. If you can recreate those smells, do so. What events do you remember surrounding those smells? What do they make you think of?
- What clothes did you wear when you were a teenager? Find images online that look like the clothing you wore. What do you remember about the way they felt and the way they smelled? What do you remember happening in those clothes?
- What was your address when you were a child, a teen, and a young adult? Find your past homes using Google Earth. Look at the surrounding area. Go back to the addresses if you can. Look around. What’s the most prominent memory you have doing this?
- What was your favorite candy? Buy it and experience the smell and taste. Think back to the times when you ate it. This can also be done with meals and restaurants.
- What was your favorite music as a child, teen, and young adult? Listen to it online. What memories come up when you’re listening to that music? Did you go to a concert? If you did, look at the concert venue online. Did anything significant happen at that concert?
These are just some questions to get you started. If you have other ideas to trigger your senses, and therefore your memory, go for it! The aim is to get yourself to experience your memories again so that you can write your life story with the details you lived.
Is there something you’d really like to remember more clearly? Self-hypnosis and meditation both can be used to help you better remember past events and other memories. While the terms “self-hypnosis” and “meditation” may sound intimidating and strange, it can greatly benefit you while you […]
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We all have many different stories to tell about our lives, but when you’re writing a memoir, it’s best to not try to tell them all at once. Choosing a specific theme for your memoir will make it stronger and more meaningful to your readers.
Organizing your memoir by theme can also help you to start the writing process. Here’s how to begin.
Step One: Choose a theme
What is the topic that you really want to focus on? If there’s something that seems to be underlying all of your life experiences, that’s a theme you may want to explore.
If you’re struggling to choose a theme, think about what most affects you as a person today. What are you most passionate about? Brainstorm and let your memory run for a while to see what is most prominent in your life.
Choosing a theme can be challenging, because writing about one topic for an extended time can feel monotonous. When choosing a theme, make sure it’s one you feel you have enough experience with, and one that has impacted your life enough, that you can write a memoir about it.
Step Two: Understand why you’re writing about this topic
What do you hope to convey to whoever reads your memoir? Why is this a topic you’re drawn to write about? When you’re writing about a specific experience, there’s a reason you feel like that experience is important in your life. What’s your reason? What do you want people to know about your chosen topic? Try to write with this in mind.
Step Three: Think about your experiences through that lens
Once you pick a theme, decide what experiences really show the impact that topic has had on your life. Where do you see that theme come into play in your life? What was your first experience with it? Think back and do some brainstorming about where you want to start given what your topic is.
If you were to sit down and write your life story, where would you start? For many people, it starts with an outline. There are a number of different ways in which you can begin organizing your thoughts to get your words on paper; it’s […]
No matter who you are, you have witnessed something important. Whether it’s a major historical event or a significant life event, how do you start to write about it? Writing through the important events in your life can be a way to organize your memoir. […]
One of the hardest parts of writing a memoir is remembering the details of the story or experience you’re writing about. It gets more challenging to recall memories the further away from the experience you are. There are multiple ways you can get your memory running with you again, and these are just a few of them.
Clearing your brain of all thought can help you to focus on the past. If you can’t get into a specific memory, try sitting quietly and dismissing the thoughts that come into your head. Your goal is to just focus on the present and bring yourself into a place of better focus. You can also take a walk around the block and focus on how your body feels and the area surrounding you. When you’re trying to remember something, you have to get past the present and other memories. Clear your head and then go back to the memories, seeing if you can remember anything more.
If you can physically visit the place of your memory, that can help to bring up details of the memory. If you still have old objects or records of the memory, those can help as well. If you don’t have those or can’t physically visit it, try to find something that reminds you of that time in your life in the present. Maybe it’s a type of store, a type of object, a smell, anything that will remind you of that time can help you remember the experience.
If you’re in contact with the people from younger years or certain experiences, try to talk through the time with them. It can help to have another person that remembers an experience and can give you details you haven’t yet recalled. Of course, talking to people about life experiences can be challenging, so you want to make sure you set up a space in which it feels safe for you and the other party to discuss the past.