This article by Abigail Thomas was sent to me by Peter who swears he was reading his mother's AARP magazine. It is an absolutely wonderful discussion of the power of journalling/memoir writing peppered through with some of the most intriguing writing exercises I have seen. HIGHLY recommended.
Here is an excerpt:
Sometimes just holding a pen in my hand and writing milk butter eggs sugar calms me. Truth is what I’m ultimately after—truth or clarity. I think truth’s what we’re all after, although I’d never have said such a thing when I was young. Writing memoir is a way to figure out who you used to be and how you got to be who you are.
There are as many different kinds of memoir as there are motives for writing one. There is memoir written as pure story: you start at the beginning and end where you are now, a breathless headlong rush through what happened.
Or you can start at the end and look back, or with some middle moment, an event that precipitated change and clarity, or the need for clarity. Put the point of your compass there, and start circling. Ilene Beckerman has written a perfect memoir called Love, Loss, and What I Wore (Algonquin Books), an account of her life illustrated by what she was wearing at important moments. I believe someone else has fashioned a memoir composed entirely of lists.
The jumping-off place isn’t always obvious. You can’t always find the way in. Sometimes you need a side door. That’s where writing exercises come in. Here’s the one I give all my students the first week of class:
Not so fast, Buckaroo, gotta to read the rest at the AARP site. It's a brilliant exercise...you can find the full article here.