Writing Assignment: Write About A Memory

by Randy Murray on August 16, 2013

Our memories are a wonder. The very fact that we can use our minds to replay or recreate the events of our lives is astonishing, beyond our current understanding. That this gelatinous mass of goo we carry around in our skulls can store and replay such things is one of the great mysteries of life.

But memories are not recordings. They are not flawless and perfect storage of the truth. Memories are something else. You can take a dozen people who have been at the same place, saw the same things happen, then ask them what they experienced and you will likely get twelve different stories with overlapping, but not identical, impressions.

I find that many of my memories are strange in that I not only see the events, but I imagine that I’m seeing myself. That’s not possible or accurate. I don’t see all of my memories through my eyes. I see these things with myself in them. Strange and mysterious.

We are not cameras. We are not computers or data storage vessels.

And that makes memories so fascinating to explore.

For today’s assignment, pick a personal memory to write about. Before you begin writing, select the memory, then think about it. Explore it. What do your recall? What do you see?

And where are you in these memories?

When you begin writing about this memory, don’t restrict yourself, don’t try and make the memory conform to a courtroom recounting of facts. Write what you remember and how you experience the memory. If your memories are strange, be unafraid to put that down. Test your memories.

For the writer, memory can be as powerful as observation. In fact, it’s the act of observing the memory without trying to shape it that can reveal fascinating things and move the writer into deeper exploration, deeper truth.

Remember, then write. Many writers do nothing more than this exercise and produce some of our greatest literature.

What do your memories hold for you?


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