Writing is a way of thinking, learning, and knowing
Hi! I'm Stacie, a social worker turned composition instructor. When I first started teaching as a graduate instructor, I found some of my students felt overwhelmed and frustrated when asked to write a personal essay. It was just too much to tell! And telling leads to some pretty b-o-r-i-n-g writing. So I took a page out of my social work practice to blend it with writing instruction: Take a deep breath. Focus on one moment.
I asked my students to write about just that moments and its details, and that became the starting point for their personal narratives. I've come to call these short, focused, descriptive writing exercises "Minute Memoirs" and I have used them with my college students over the years to help them craft both personal and fictional stories.
I believe the Minute Memoir has power both in mindfulness and in introspection. Mindfulness, because it asks the writer to focus on just one moment (past or present) and observe the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures of the moment. Mindful writing asks us to slow down and realize everything going on not just inside us but also around us. It teaches us that we are part of a bigger whole. Minute Memoirs are also introspective in that they ask for reflection and insight into a moment. Writing about past moments allows us to use our distance to bring insight, understanding, and a pattern of meaning to an event. Writing about current situations often simply allows us to identify, voice, and accept our feelings in the moment. Whether it's writing about past moments or current moments, Minute Memoirs allow us to slow down. Life has a multitude of moments: good, bad, ambivalent, humorous, scary, peaceful, tense, boring, exciting... Part of what makes writing valuable on an emotional level is the time we take to identify these moments and the feelings of the moment.
On a practical level, I've also learned in writing my own Minute Memoirs that this simple writing exercise is a fast and fun way for me to write, even if I don't find the time to extensively journal my own personal experiences. Sometimes I write a few times a week, sometimes it's less often, but the point is, I'm doing a little something to record these moments.
I hope you'll join me on this journey as we record these moments that add up to our life!