It’s Okay to Point

Carol Newman blogs at, where I drop by often to see what fresh ideas she has to stimulate me as a writer. Two things always impress me abut Carol’s blog — her ability to use images as writing prompts, and to find a chocolate recipe to accompany every post. Carol Newman is our guest today.

Much as I love teaching life story writing classes and individuals, both are imperfect solutions for life story writers and for me their teacher.

For one thing, there is never enough time to talk about everything that would make the memoirists’ story smoother, more meaningful, or more engrossing. Also, writers ask questions, make comments, and share experiences that could be helpful to a wider audience than those sitting around a table on a particular day. Weeks after a class, needed information surfaces. I have found that even those who are highly attentive and motivated need to have information repeated, restated, and reinforced several times before it becomes a part of their writing. And, a high percentage of writers produce unexpectedly revealing, powerful, or humorous writing from the writing prompts they receive from me. Without the structured meetings and writing prompts for inspiration and motivation, some writers flounder.

My solution to those imperfections:  the bird of paradise flower. Think of the bird of paradise with its sharp petals and vivid orange and purple color as the pointer of the flower world. I use my blog,, as a pointer.

The blog says, Pay attention to this element of writing. Each post has a WRITING TIP where I can focus on one specific writing topic. In the WRITING PROMPT, I can offer something new to write about. The photos are intended as a visual reminder of the “lesson” of the week. For the many writers who approach life story writing with perfection anxiety from previous writing instruction, there is the CHOCOLATE INKWELL, a recipe using chocolate, a reminder that though sometimes our lives are bitter dark chocolate and nuts instead of sweet milk chocolate and marshmallows, life is sweet, and we honor that with our writing – which, no matter what, is always good enough.

-Carol Newman



About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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