This exercise encourages students to use memories as a source of inspiration and creative material. Topics: writing autobiography and memoir; describing emotions and feelings; valuing our experiences.
Prep and resources
The American artist Joe Brainard’s autobiography, ‘I Remember’ (1975) has become a cult classic. His method was simply to set down specific memories as they rose to the surface of his consciousness, each prefaced by the refrain ‘I remember’. Other writers have used this technique too, such as Wendy Cope and Paul Farley. You may want to photocopy some ‘I Remember’ pieces to use in this session.
Ice Breaker: automatic writing
Ask students to write a diary entry, stressing that it will be private, and they won’t have to read it aloud if they don’t want to. Encourage them to write using emotions, describing how certain situations felt.
Exercise: I remember
Give students an existing ‘I Remember’ piece each to read, or read one aloud to the whole group.
Ask them to write their own pieces, using the ‘I Remember’ format.
Ask each student to read some or all of what they’ve written to the group and discuss which parts the others like best. You may emphasise the ways that our own stories / memories, even ones we think are boring, can be relevant and interesting to others.