Life Writing Practice: exercises and prompts to energize you

Need ideas to unblock your creativity? Interested in writing but you don’t know where to get started? You can follow this writing playbook with a friend, a group, or by yourself.

By running a writing group from Vilseck, Germany, I’ve assembled lists of exercises and prompts that take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete. Pick and choose as you like and take your time! Some ideas have been inspired by others online, creative writing books, and past writing classes. Some are original. Now they are yours.

This week we are focusing on Life Writing. If you have a desire to write a memoir, these prompts are tailor-made for you. Grab a journal and a pen and get to work.


Start with a stream of consciousness. Set a timer for 2 minutes, put your pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and start writing. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, hurting anyone’s feelings. Just get it out. After the timer goes off you can burn it or delete it, but GET IT OUT. I consider this to be a brain dump before I can let my true creativity come to the surface, though sometimes there are gems within the nonsense. Underline anything that sparks something for you.

Writing Exercise:

“I remember…”

Start each sentence with this phrase. You can choose a specific time in your life, like your high school years, or do a general memory dump. Write as many of these statements as you can, within your time parameters. I suggest 8-15 minutes. If you prefer creative writing to life writing, do this exercise from a character’s perspective. Whatever you choose, use sensory details. Here’s an example:

I remember the sour taste in my mouth before leaping off the rock, 50 feet down into the quarry’s gray water.

Once you have your “I remember” list down, put a star next to your favorites. Choose one and expand it into a story. Use the statement as a diving board into a longer piece, rich with detail. How have you changed since then?

Writing Prompt:

Set a timer for 5 minutes. Find a mirror and look at yourself until the timer goes off. Embrace the uncomfortable. Once your time is up, write about your experience. How did it feel to look in a mirror that long? Was there anything that surprised you? Any inspiration?

Set your pen down. For now.

You’ve done it!

Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new agenda, focusing on something a bit different. This week has been Life Writing – taking a look at your own experiences. We’ll tackle a range of other writing topics, poetry and prose alike. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it probably never will be. And that’s okay! Simply write the truth. You’ll be amazed by the effect.

Happy writing!

Love, Emma

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