04-06-2012 03:41 PM
In What If?, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter encourage the writer to lead an examined life by keeping a notebook that addresses a series of subjects that they outline, subjects that the writer should return to over and over. Here's an adaptation of that exercise; something we can do here in the Writing Room. Again, the goal is the lead an examined life and to be mindful of individual experience and differences.
Choose any (or all) of the prompts below and respond in a freewrite.
- List in detail all the places you have lived. Be specific in this list. Don't focus just on towns or cities, but describe kitchens, bedrooms, libraries.
- Were you happy or unhappy in those places?
- Consider your parents' relationship, from their point of view.
- List important family members. What were the dynamics of your nuclear family? What about your extended family?
- List smells and the memories they conjure.
- Do you have reoccurring dreams or nightmares? Does one dream from some time ago still stay with you as a strong impression?
- What did you care about when you were five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, etc? What do you care about now? What do you anticipate you'll care about five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now?
- Now, make up your own question and pose it to other writers here--and answer it yourself.