Which Memories Work Best to Write About?


Choosing a memory of significance is often the most challenging part for students who are embarking on memory writing. The other task, pulling them out of the recesses of our minds, is also difficult. I’ll tackle both challenges in this document.


Best Memories:


Stereotypically there are two categories of memories that typically work well when writing about the past --firsts and traumatic events. Everyone has had one or the other in his/her life. The first kiss, they first child, the first car accident, are all examples of memories which stick with us the longest and are easiest to access.  Go through your own mind and see if you can recall these firsts: 


Your first time getting caught stealing was ______________.


Your first girlfriend/boyfriend was ___________________.


The first teacher who made a difference in your life was ____________.


You first pet was _______________________




Now, see if you can connect with any of these traumatic situations:



I learned about death when _________________________.


I got beat up when I was ___________________________.


I was part of or saw an auto accident_______________.


My partner cheated on me ___________________________.



For some reason these less-than-happy events also stick with us for a very, very long while, and sometimes recalling them causes us to feel emotions similar to those we felt at the time of the trauma. That’s why they’re such great ones to write about.






If after going through your memory core you still draw a blank, here are some tips which are sure to elicit a memory or two that you may want to write about.


Take a Whiff: Dig through your bathroom cabinet and find some cologne or perfume you haven’t worn for a while. Or, go to a shop and find some smell-good your partner once wore. Smell it!  And, as you do, let your mind take you back to the last time you remember smelling that scent. Money has it, you’ll see a snapshot or an entire scene from your past.


Open You Ears: One thing I regularly do when I want to take a trip down memory lane is to pop an old tape or CD into my player. Listening to Ratt or Wham takes me back to homecoming dances. Hearing Dolly Parton makes me remember long road trips with country-loving family members. And, the sound of “Whoop There It Is,” pulls me back to an incident I encountered at a football game a few years ago.  Regardless of what memories your oldies elicit, they’re there, and you can write about them.


Take a Peak:  If you’re still stuck, try this won’t-fail technique for those of us who weren’t homeschooled. Go get your high school year book--you know the one you did from all your girlfriends or boyfriends because of that mullet hairdo you were sporting.  Leaf through it slowly, and let your mind find those memories you stuffed far away. They may not all be pleasant, or they might bring back fun recollections of frantic times or fanatic friends.  Then, write about one of them.


If these don’t work, then call your mother. She’ll likely recall an embarrassing moment or seven. She might even drop by with a few  photo albums, full of naked babies, a whole section devoted to Weird Cousin Albert, or that UFO you swear is right there.


Regardless, have fun!


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