Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Childhood Memories and Writer's Block

By Ruth O'Neil
Copyright © 2009 by Ruth O'Neil, All Rights Reserved

All writers, no matter how experienced, face one little problem on occasion.  That problem is known as writerís block.  There have been times when my husband has taken our kids out in the evenings leaving me with pen, paper, peace, quiet --and not an inkling of something I can write about.  It makes me so mad because I feel as if Iím wasting precious moments; I have been given a gift of time and I canít use it.

However, I did come up with one way to use these times and put them to good use.  I started writing down memories I had from when I was a child.  I bought a notebook where I could jot down just enough of the memory to trigger my brain so I could write more extensively about it at a later time.  I also bought a blank journal so that when I did have writerís block, I could write out these memories in a special place to either use in my writing later or just share with my children.  Sharing memories with my children is important, especially memories about my mom who passed away when my oldest daughter was only thirteen months old.  They donít have any memories of her of their own, so I have to give them mine. 

There were stories that my grandmother had told me as a child that I wish had been written down and I didnít want this to happen to my kids.  I wanted them to be able to remember my stories even if it was only through the written word. All of these thoughts allowed me to accomplish something during my bouts of writerís block.

To prepare for the next time you are struggling to even write your name, always have a pen and paper nearby so you can jot down any memory that comes from the recesses of your mind.  You can even take some time to sit and actually think, especially when you first begin because you will probably have a rush of thoughts come all at once.

And donít be afraid to pull other family members into your writerís block project.  One Thanksgiving, when my sisters were planning to spend the whole weekend at my house, I told them ahead of time to be thinking of things that happened when we were kids.  I asked them to write down whatever they could think of before they came and after dinner we could compare notes.  They helped me remember many silly and stupid events that happened while we were growing up.  They talked and I scribbled furiously.

Shortly after thanksgiving, I was able to use a lot of the memories my sisters and I had relived.  It was my dadís sixtieth birthday and his new wife wanted me to come up with something fun for the party since she wasn't around when we were children.  I was able to make a whole book of memories because I had taken the time to write them down.  Although my dad had forgotten (or didnít know) many of the little things that had happened, several other family members did recall and asked for copies of the ďbook.Ē

While this particular project was rather large, there have been many little stories or articles I have been able to write from these memories.  While reading over new guidelines or theme lists, these memories are triggered and I have been able to turn lessons I learned as a child into stories that will hopefully help other children.

The possibilities of using your childhood memories in your writing are endless.  This was one way I have been able to get around those trying times when nothing is coming to my head. 

So, if there are times when all you want to do is write, yet nothing seems to flow, think about writing down memories from your own childhood.  When you have had enough writerís block moments, you may find you have written down memories enough to write a novel, a cookbook, your memoirs, or even a personal, special gift for your family members.

Go out and get a new notebook and jot down all the ideas you can think of so during your next bout with writerís block you can pull out your childhood memories list and begin writing.  This might solve your writerís block problem and may lead to ideas you can use in the future.

First published in Fellowscript November 2007