Life Writing Practice: memory and sensory details

We’re officially in another week of life writing practice, this time focusing in on including those key sensory details that make your writing come alive.

This writing process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete – the time is up to you. The important thing is to take time to write. Like I’ve said before, some of these writing ideas have been inspired by others online, creative writing books, and past writing classes. Some are original. Now they are yours.

So, future memoir writers, let’s get started. 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:

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place in the world. It might be your Grandma’s porch, a high school basketball court, a claw-foot bathtub. Describe that location in as much detail as you can. Put us, the reader, in your shoes. If you prefer creative writing to life writing, describe a fictional place your character loves. No matter what you write, the key is to include sensory details. What could you smell, hear, see, taste, or touch there? Write for 5 minutes.

Here’s a snippet of an example:

The tinking of mugs hitting saucers jolts me out of my writing coma. Here I am again, Cafe on the Mound, where the scent of mocha and espresso waft through the air, along with the barely audible notes of a Beatles song.

Writing Prompt:

The thrill of a random prompt motivates me more than it should. In my writing group, we often pull random prompts so we can each have a unique writing experience. Choose a random prompt from this list. Write for 10 minutes. Again, take us to that moment with sensory details. If you have time (and motivation), choose another prompt.

Done! Set your pen down.

Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new agenda, focusing on something a bit different. This week has been Life Writing – sensory details. We’ll tackle a range of other writing topics, poetry and prose alike. If you feel inspired to share your writing from this session, please comment below, or link to your own website. Remember, getting started is the hardest part. And you’ve already done that.

Happy writing!

Love, Emma

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