Writing Prompt: Journal to Memoir

PROMPT: Take something you wrote from one of your journals and write in narrative form. Experiment with 1st and 3rd person.
I plan to take this journal entry from last year and rewrite it as a memoir:
Okay. Not so terribly bad this morning. Just took my meds, so they haven’t kicked in yet. But I got out of bed, walked (with the walker) to the kitchen, made a cup of coffee, and pain is about a 4. Sucks but manageable. Getting there.
My advisor from school tells me to use this opportunity to write. Believe me, I have thought about it while stretched out on that floor. But I haven’t done very much about it. Not easy to read or write while laid out on the floor on your back. Not to mention a brain gone seriously sideways from muscle relaxers and pain pills.
Of course, sideways is where I want to be when I write, but sometimes you can hurtle right past sideways into no man’s land. And in no man’s land you’re lucky if you can even catch a thought let alone write it down. Or even make sense of it.
But here I am now, off the shuttle to no man’s land and just resting in the sideways, hoping for something….anything…a bit of a poem, a story idea. Well, not much coming yet. Bless you for suffering through my ramblings.
Ponderings from the floor, day 12
THINGS I MISS: my toes in the sand, the sound of the ocean waves breaking on the beach, the birds…oh, I miss the birds the most…, breakfast with my friends, the stars and the moon (I cannot see them from my current view), sunrises and sunsets.
A DOG’S VIEW: I consider my vantage point when I am on the floor. A very different perspective, a dog’s perspective. So, I get on my hands and knees and meander around the room. This is what my dogs see as they move throughout the house. Interesting. I think about how much they are missing being so close to the ground.
And then I realize how much I am missing by being so far above the ground. It’s all relative, I suppose. Yeah, walk in my paws for awhile Maya says. Lots of things down there near the ground that I never noticed before. I suppose a change in perspective now and then is a good thing to have. There’s a story in there.

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Prompt #1 Timelines   Prepare a timeline of events that span your birth to age 18.

Prompt #2 Favorites  Make a list of your favorite things. Choose one of them to write at least a paragraph about.

Prompt #3 Firsts  Make a list of things you did for the FIRST time. Choose at least one of them and write a paragraph or two.

Prompt #4: Pivotal Moments Find your BEFORE/AFTER moment. What is the point – that dividing line – when something so pivotal happened that it changed you forever?

Prompt #5 Memoir Writing Prompt: Your Life as a Museum Exhibit Take something you wrote from one of your journals and write in narrative form. Experiment with 1st and 3rd person.


Memoir Writing Prompt: Your Life as a Museum Exhibit

From Poets & Writers

Envision how your own life and work might be presented in an art museum, and write a few paragraphs (or pages!) about this hypothetical exhibit.



  • What objects would be on display?


  • Which emails or photographs would help tell your stories?
  • Consider using different forms and conventions, such as lists and fragments.



“One Life: Sylvia Plath,” an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., features a selection of the poet’s manuscripts, journals, clothing, and other personal objects, including a typewriter and even a lock of her hair, as well as numerous pieces of Plath’s artwork: collages, drawings, self-portraits, and photographs.

The museum also incorporates other types of art and interdisciplinary projects into its Plath programming, such as “I Am Vertical,” a dance performed in December in the museum’s courtyard, created by choreographer-in-residence Dana Tai Soon Burgess and named after one of Plath’s poems.

IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.justmuddlingthroughlife.com/2018/01/the-writers-museum-edinburgh.html

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Join the Writing Your Life group on Facebook!


Prompt #1 Timelines   Prepare a timeline of events that span your birth to age 18.

Prompt #2 Favorites  Make a list of your favorite things. Choose one of them to write at least a paragraph about.

Prompt #3 Firsts  Make a list of things you did for the FIRST time. Choose at least one of them and write a paragraph or two.

Prompt #4: Pivotal Moments Find your BEFORE/AFTER moment. What is the point – that dividing line – when something so pivotal happened that it changed you forever?

Writing Your Life Challenge 2019

get-started-pageOkay, same as when we tried this before! I don’t want this to get too full of rules….that’s what keeps most people from writing their memoirs.

My plan is to post prompts, helpful tips and tools that participants can use or not as they see fit.

By all means, you do NOT have to post your work here UNLESS you want to share, need helpful advice, etc.

Mostly, I want everyone to feel free to JUST WRITE! I’m excited about this challenge…I hope everyone else is too!

You can join our group on Facebook as well.

Past Prompts can be viewed by clicking the links below:

Timelines The most important list is the TIMELINE. This timeline will serve as your anchor as you write your stories. You can return to it over and over again to spark your memory or find details to add to your stories.

Favorites Writing about a favorite thing, person, or place gives you short vignettes that you can add to your larger memoir.

Firsts As with Favorites, Firsts lead you into deeper territory. The first anything is usually a memorable experience and quite often marks a change in our lives.

Theme  There is within your life a central theme – life change. Make a list of the crucial events in your life.

Ponderings from the Floor

Ponderings from the Floor by Karen Y. Hamilton, January 6, 2018

I am having a very bad bout of sciatica. I spend much of my time these days flat on the floor.


Thought #1 upon waking at 4 a.m.: Always believe the doctor who made you feel so much better when he says, “The pain is going to get worse before it gets better. You are in for a rough weekend.” As usual, I was not listening to him because, well, because I felt 75% better after he adjusted my back. Should have listened. It is going to be a floor day today. But I hold on to the rest of his words, “But it IS going to get better.”

Thought #2: This will teach you to stop being so hard headed about asking people for help. Hard one for me. My motto is to put your feet on the floor and get moving. Don’t need help. I can do it all by myself. Watch out. Because God has a way of humbling you when you get all prideful and arrogant. It is not at all pleasant to put my feet on the floor. Or get moving.

Thought #3: Where did that spider under the TV come from? I used up a good ten minutes just watching that little fellow spin a web. Fascinating really. Amazing what it takes to get us to slow down and notice the little things in the world. We’ll come back to him later. I suppose I should give him a name since we are going to be neighbors for a while. Something to ponder…

Thought #4: Coffee is the elixir of the gods. Making a cup of coffee in my current situation is a massive undertaking. Every step to the coffeepot a major achievement. But oh that first sip of coffee is better than the drugs. Almost.

Thought #5: Why do I have so many dog beds? Next to my little spot on the living room floor are four dog beds. I only have two dogs.

Thought #6: It is so nice when the muscle relaxer kicks in. Kinda gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. When do I get another one? Can’t remember. And the paper I wrote that very important information is way over there on the dining room table. Might as well be in Alaska.


Thought #7: Thank God for meditation. All things are connected, moving us forward from one adventure to another. If I had not learned meditation last year, I would be in big trouble right now. Breathe in. Breathe out. Powerful stuff. You should try it.

Thought #8: I have really long legs. I think about this as I try to put on my pants. I am cursing the cold while I do this because it would be so much easier to skip the whole pants thing. Onward. We do what we must do. Put on your pants, Hamilton.

Thought #9: Got nothing. Just gonna go observe the spider for awhile.

Side Worlds

by Karen Y Hamilton, 2017


As the years moved along, she began to                 drift

further and further from this world. Sidestepping

now and then into the others. She had always known

that they were there, had always heard the voices


of the women from those places spaces whispering

to her. Doors led to smoky forests and windows led

to stringy clouds and waves. She didn’t even have to

close her eyes anymore. Just step          sideways.


We need more white space, she said. More white

spaces in which to take a breath          and just drift

for a little bit. So she sat and added white space, listened

to the bird song and far off car hums and let herself step      to the side.


He wasn’t always there. Certainly not as much as in the

beginning, right after he died when he was everywhere yet

nowhere. There were those sometimes, and oh how she longed

for the sometimes, when he was waiting for her when she slipped


over. Hello beautiful, he would say. And his voice would echo

in her body for days afterwards – hello beautiful  hello beautiful  hello beautiful  

You think too much, one man told her. Another time another

place. So many dark places. But the dark led to side worlds and


the sometimes and          hello beautiful. It wasn’t like she hadn’t

tried to go sideways through the light. She did. But the light,

though wide and breathtaking, thinned quickly and led back

to the darkness. This was a comfort, soft and silk caressing her.

1-4-2017 7-29-51 AM

“There is a certain comfort when everything collapses”

May 2017

by Karen Y Hamilton


“There is a certain comfort when everything collapses”

Because you fight to hang on, find words, keep standing, keep

going, and then it all collapses, folding in slowly, dust

billowing obscuring erasing                 It is over.                  It is done.


And you sigh with the joy of it. Not having to fight anymore. It is

finished. I see Jesus on the cross saying, “It is done.”       Take comfort

in this because the rising is coming. These transient words


collapse. And fade fade         fade


*There have been many losses this past year, but there have also been new beginnings, new and beautiful risings. For those of you reeling, hurting, hiding from your own losses, please know this – the rising is coming, so don’t give up. Peace to all of you. Karen

Time & Memory


May 12, 2017

by Karen Y. Hamilton

Time keeps doing its thing, sometimes catching up with us, sometimes slipping sideways and eluding us. We mostly don’t pay any attention. Something in us wants to keep returning to the past and wondering if we could have done things differently might our lives have turned out for the better. But then, might they have turned out for the worse?

And here is where the statement, “If you do understand, things are such as they are. If you don’t understand, things are such as they are” comes in.

But we keep looking, don’t we? We keep reeling back through our memories and trying to figure out where we went wrong and where we went right and dwelling on all of the people and places and things that we would change if only we had the power. To go back in time.

And we just don’t always have the control over what comes to the surface of our memory. The more recent pains, mishaps, adventures gone askew taunt us and come unbidden with a frequency that takes our breath away and knocks us to our knees. And the losses. They especially creep in at odd moments to remind us of the empty spaces they left behind.

It is all about time. That elusive concept that some say does not even exist. As we move along through our every day and every night, time presses in on us and memory dims, dulls and erases. It just takes time. That is what everyone everywhere reminds us. And it is true. Somewhere along the way we let go of what was and don’t even realize that we are no longer longing for one time or another. None of it is a fixed space anyway. Time is such a fluid animal.

Somewhere along the way we stop looking for the past to rise up and we just live.

On Being Set Separate


gibney-beach-cottage-02May 2, 2017

by Karen Y. Hamilton

A recent piece I wrote for workshop validated my choice to enter into this writing thing, to push myself to write more, revise even more, and seek publication of my writing somewhere down the road. My peers tell me that I have found my voice, and that is really good news because I feel as if I have been silenced for far too long.

I am somewhat concerned that my voice includes this anger that I have been trying so hard to rid myself of. But perhaps that anger is the fuel that I need to light my own fire. It is a voice that needs to be given voice. Someone said in workshop that those who rail against discrimination and separation need to just ‘get over it.’ Those of us who have found ourselves marginalized need to get past it and move on.

I do not want to carry around my anger at being set as separate because of my gender, because of my age, because of my choice to be a housewife for 20 years, like a badge of honor. I don’t want to yield it as a weapon against anyone.

But I do want to acknowledge that the marginalization exists. And my anger at it is real. It is inevitable that this will seep into my writing, perhaps until I finish giving it a voice. I am not the only one. Not all of us have reached that place where we can ‘get over it.’

So, as the message from the rocks says, I do not have to explain myself to anyone. I simply need to be who I am at this moment in time and write from that place. Be here now and all of that.

Seeking Submissions for 2014 What’s Your Story Memoir Anthology

whats-your-story-cover2smGet ready for this year’s What’s Your Story Memoir Anthology!

Deadline August 16, 2014.

Get writing!! Need help?

Book a workshop or buy the Lifetales Workbook to get you started writing your life stories!

We are accepting submissions for the 2014 Memoir Anthology – What’s Your Story?

Publication will be in November 2014 – just in time for you to order copies for HOLIDAY giving!

NOTE: There is no fee for submitting. There is no payment for submissions. All submissions will receive a free digital copy of the book.  The anthology will be available for purchase in print and ebook.

If your story has been previously published elsewhere, please indicate where and when (see Rights below). Karenzo Media will not be responsible for submissions entered that are not properly cited or cleared through previous publishers. There is no payment to you for your submission, but you can include your website, work, etc. in your bio paragraph.

Rights: By submitting to the anthology you give Karenzo Media the nonexclusive license to reprint your work on a one-time basis, for the life in print of the anthology, and you retain the copyright and all other rights. If your work was previously published, please check with your publisher regarding whether or not you can publish an excerpt of your work in an anthology. 

Categories in the anthology tentatively include:

  • Firsts
  • Holidays
  • Dreams
  • Overcoming
  • Special People
  • Triumphs and Trials

3-20-2014 7-54-03 AM2If you’d like some help in writing your memoir, consider reading the Lifetales Workbook for step-by-step help in constructing a memoir.


Written memoirs should be under 2000 words.  Submit as a .doc or .rtf. No pdfs please!

Not a writer? Worried about your spelling and grammar? Don’t be! I personally edit all submissions, so your memoir will be perfect.

Photographs and artwork should be scans of the actual photo or work (or high quality images). Ideally, images should be at least 300 dpi. All photographs and artwork should be from your own collection or properly cited with permission for use from the owner(s).

Deadline for submissions: August 16, 2014

Send submissions and/or queries to:karenzomedia@gmail.com


Preserving history…one lifestory at a time…