I’ve just returned from a weekend in a cabin on the Lake Superior shore, alternating work on my memoir with walks in the snowy woods. Each morning began with coffee and scribbling on a legal pad in front of the wood stove, filling pages and pages with memories, ideas on how to organize the piece I wanted to write, and notes toward research needed.
As I hiked, I fingered thoughts like smooth stones in a pocket, coming back with more ideas, more insights, to bring to the work in progress. A little more work with the legal pad and a glass of wine in front of the wood stove before starting supper got the day’s insights captured and ready for the next morning’s work.
If you want to write, I recommend this way to go at it.
The particular episode I’m writing about, a branching point from my mid-teens in the mid-70s, requires stretching for understanding of the emotional subtexts. I’m not great with that sort of thing, so I’m digging to discover what I know but don’t know I know.
Here’s a technique for that–Try writing from the point of view of another person. To get started, simply imagine you’re interviewing that person. Ask, “so, what do you remember about [episode]?” Follow up with, “That’s interesting. Tell me more,” or “How did that make you feel?” Write down whatever that person says in response. You will feel him or her taking over your pen. What comes out will leave you amazed.