Easy As 1-2-3

writing query letters - suzannesherman.comWhat’s new? Whatever is new in your life makes a great writing topic. It’s where the energy is.

Even if you’re already working on something else, try this:

1. Make a list of what’s new in your life right now — the standouts. Go for 3 to 5 topics. It could be as simple as a new favorite drink. (My list would have to include the frozen nonfat lattes with whipped cream I just discovered. Barista: “Hey, it’s balanced!”) Not all new things are easy or welcome, but they deserve a place on the list too.

2. Choose one topic from your list and give yourself 20 minutes to write about it. Write everything that comes to mind. If you’re on a roll at 20 minutes, write for as long as you like, without interruption. This is freewriting, no concern about story shape, grammar, logical story flow, tangents.

3. Give it three days or so and then come back to this piece of writing. It’s time to give the story shape. Read it through and see if you’ve said everything you want to say. If you haven’t, add that into the revision. Decide where to this story needs to start. Is it where you began it in the freewrite? Is it a little later in the piece or something you haven’t written yet? Write a strong beginning, develop the story, and bring it to a close. Remember: memoir combines chronicling what happened and reflections on what happened and how it affected you.

Do the same with each one of your topics on your list. You may want to include what you’ve written in a longer memoir, add the story to a collection, or send it out for publication.

Remember to pull this 1,2,3 method out of your back pocket with any new piece of writing. Freewrite on your topic to get the most you can from it, let it rest for a few days, then take it out and refine it. If you try to refine while you’re creating, you’ll squeeze out some of the life in your story before it’s gotten a fair chance to be all it can be.