The first time I did this exercise was in my first Creative Writing class which I took with published novelist, Kristopher Jansma. I’ve taken a lot of craft and writing courses, but this has to be my favorite writing exercise because it is so easy and can be done within a few minutes, maybe even seconds! You can do it while drinking your morning coffee at your desk or while you are bored in class but need to look like you’re taking notes. Doing this writing exercise should help you sift through your unique life experiences and pin point the events that shape who you are as an individual and as a writer. It is also one of the easiest and quickest writing exercises you can do. It is called ‘I Remembers.’ Famous writer and poet, Joe Brainard wrote an entire book filled with them which I highly recommend reading if you’re serious about growing as a writer (because hey, if you’re on here you are already one!). It takes a lot to share my own list publicly but vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity and I think it is important to keep that in mind when writing anything.
Here’s a list of my ‘I Remembers’ I wrote recently…
- I remember writing I remembers before, and thinking that I would be better at I remembers if I didn’t get high before doing them.
- I remember reading that people with cystic fibrosis only live to the ages of about thirty-five to forty-five. I remember how little that mattered to me once I realized I was in love with him.
- I remember the first time he held my hand while using his nebulizer. I had never felt such a painful mix of love and helplessness.
- I remember being blinded by lights when I walked out on the runway when I was fifteen. I didn’t even care about winning the pageant. I just wanted to turn around and hide.
- I remember smoking a joint outside the Christian bookstore where I worked when I was fifteen.
- I remember seeing my dad cry for the first time after he buried my brother’s cat Jade. He later told me he would probably either have to bury his son like that or see him behind bars. He was right.
- I remember my grandfather’s funeral in Trinidad and my grandmother calling me over to touch his face. I pretended I did but I only hovered half and in above it.
- I remember over thinking my away message on AOL Instant Messenger.
- I remember when my ex boyfriend purposely broke my phone during one of his fits. I remember getting fed up that very moment and breaking nearly everything in his apartment.
- I remember the boys in my second grade class telling me Dragon Ball Z wasn’t for girls. I remember trying to conjure up a Spirit Bomb to beat them up. They laughed at me and I told them my big brother would punch them in their faces.
- I remember getting in trouble for fighting my junior year of high school. It was the day before Halloween and I was dressed as Pocahontas. When they separated us I threw my plastic tomahawk at her.
- I remember being really scared to fly on an airplane a few months after September 11th and that my mom got me a card with some Bible scripture on it. I don’t remember the exact verse but it said something about bravery.
- I remember nearly everyone in my family calling me ‘white girl’ whenever I went to Trinidad. Somehow I felt more American there, than I do in America.
- I remember memorizing scriptures and reciting them for candy at an event that Manhattan Bible Church had for children. We were all dressed up like biblical characters; I was dressed like the Virgin Mary. I thought it was stupid. I wanted to celebrate Halloween like a normal kid.
- I remember sending notes in class, not text messages.
- I remember when hashtags weren’t hashtags, they were pound signs.
- I remember my dad reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother and I every night.
- I remember getting day drunk with my mom at a swim up bar in the Dominican Republic. We got so wasted we thought we were being dragged by some unknown current away from the bar. In reality, we just couldn’t keep our balance on the bar stools despite the fact they were under water and completely cemented to the pool floor.
Grab a pen and paper or get typing right now! Start your first (or maybe your twentieth list) and post a few here in the comments section or on your blog.