Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Life Chapters: Part 1

Have you ever thought of writing a memoir? I have. Someday I will, though not in the near future. Someday...

Here’s a fun writing exercise to get the juices flowing whether you intend to write a memoir or not. Write down numbers for every year you’ve lived. Then, next to each number write a chapter title. You are naming chapters of your book; your life. The beauty of writing is risk. Some things work. Some don’t, but if you are willing to risk you’re able to sort what works from what doesn’t. And in the process you just might find one truly original idea.

Here are the “Chapters” of my life:

  1. Top of the Totem Pole—the Fourth Paine Girl is Born

  2. The View from the Back of my Mom’s Bike

  3. European Castles & Fields of Flowers

  4. Hollowed Out Rooms

  5. No Ski for Me

  6. Coming to America

  7. Laura and Gin Gin & Other Pretend Things

  8. Tales of the Fourth Grade Everything

  9. Liesel, Kittle and China Baby, Our Elkhounds

  10. Bologna & Mayo and Soccer Games

  11. Wizard of Oz Meets Mary Poppins Meets Nadia

Of course, when you write a memoir you don’t include every detail and every year of your life, but this exercise could propel your memoir or even your WIP into an enriched and more fleshed out piece of work. It can’t hurt to try.

Then, let me know what some of your younger years would be titled. (FYI: I’m breaking my life into three parts over the next three days with a related question to come on Friday.)

Also, stop on by Exemplify Online to see what I wrote about God Breathing Nature.

*photos by flickr


  1. I think your memoir looks quite interesting already. Good thoughts!

  2. That sounds fun, I might have to try them when a few spare minutes. My Life in Chapter Titles, bet my kids would get a good laugh.

  3. How fun. I am headed over to read Exemplify Online. Have a great day!

  4. What a neat idea!! I'm off to exemplify...

  5. Those are some wonderful Chapter titles. Writing a memoir sounds very daunting :) Of course, writing short stories sounds daunting to me, too! Perhaps I need to break out of my shell :)

  6. What a cool exercise! I'm going to give it a whirl. So, were you not born in the U.S.?

    ch 8 would be titled: I'm not a boy!

    That was the year I decided to grow my hair out because everybody and their mother thought I was a little boy....not so much.

  7. I'm not sure that my life is memoir-worthy! I'm just a plain, mid-Western kind of gal! But I love your creativity, Wendy! It's inspiring!

  8. I'm fascinated by your titles. Were you born in Europe? I'll give a stab at a few:

    1.Bringing Baby Home to a Basement
    2.Grandma Time!
    3.Blankie is My Best Friend
    4.A Future Class Clown Emerges
    5.School, Beautiful School

  9. I think you have the most vivid imagination of anyone I know:))
    Some of mine are:
    Before the child
    During the child
    Missing the child
    Is there life after being a mother?

  10. Diane, thanks for writing that. I'll send the check next week. :D Hope you stop back by.

    Eileen, I was challenging my seven-year-old to have a go at it today. Her thoughts were funny.

    Get Real Girl, I love that Web site. I'm honored to be a part of it.

    Thanks, Lauren. I think I "met" you through Exemplify.

    Cindy, I bet you'd take to both more than you think. I still need to reply to your email about short stories. Will do.

    Katie, I have a sister than can relate to your chapter 8. She might have to title chapters 4-11 that. :D Those haircuts never help.
    Born in US, went to England 2-4, Germany 4-6.

    Tiffany, thank you--that means a lot coming from you.

    Jody, glad to inspire. You are anything but plain. I learn from you weekly! We all have a story.

    Jill, so you were the class clown, eh? So hard to imagine. :D :D

    Terri, I believe that is one of the grandest compliments I've ever received. Thank you for that! God blessed & blesses you in motherhood. You are always a mother.

    Wow, buckle up because next is the tumultous years...you know the ones where HORMONES came raging in, but that's not the only thing that came in.

    See you here tomorrow. Don't forget your coat.

    Loving you people,
    ~ Wendy

  11. I love this idea! Your life sounds very interesting. :D

  12. I love this idea. I love writing clever titles, though I don't always succeed!

  13. Life chapters, 1 thru 46? I'll think on it.


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