Should You Tell A 5 Year Old To Stop Lying How To Use Your Five Senses In Writing a Memoir Or Autobiography

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How To Use Your Five Senses In Writing a Memoir Or Autobiography

Did you know you can evoke memories from all your senses? Some studies have determined that being right-brained or left-brained defines your personality. Other studies show that we use both hemispheres to solve problems.

According to Dr. Judi Hollis, family therapist and psychologist, “Our creative and emotional right brains are much more influential. I always recommend less intellectual discourse and more action and emotional exploration instead.”

No matter which side of the hemisphere your memories come from, know that they are there, waiting for you.

I have a perfect plan to get the memories. Close your eyes and call upon your five senses for memories. I guarantee they will come! I’ve used this method in my workshops, and once my students get in the mood, they can’t stop their pens from going crazy. A treasure trove of memories just waiting to be poured out and it’s hard to know where to stop.

So this is the easiest way to write memories of a certain period of your life or an autobiography that you can leave to your children. You are giving them a gift. When you ask the question: How my parents and their parents coped with life. What made them the people they became? What made me the person I am?

Try these exercises the next time you sit down to refresh your memory.

HEARING: Plug your ears to catch sounds that may remind you of years gone by: favorite songs, expressions, poems. In the distance, the eerie whistle of a train. Have you ever taken a train? Where? What was the occasion?

Think of listening to the radio as a child. What programs were popular in your family? Remember how he used to lie on the carpet with his siblings and listen to those radio shows? Was there a favorite baseball team that you rooted for as you sat staring at the radio and listening to the announcer yell the exciting play-by-play? Were your parents there? Did you have a sense of family?

VIEW: Look for items tucked away in drawers or old boxes; things you may have put aside years ago. These treasures will evoke memories. Tickets to theatres, plays, ball games. Napkins or book of matches from some long-forgotten first date. who was that? Old photo albums. Scan them to find people you know that you haven’t seen in years. Have they affected your life? what were they like Where was the picture taken? Old photo albums are a link to your past.

TOUCH: Find old clothes in the back of closets; boxed clothes stacked in the garage that you just couldn’t part with. The old coat that belonged to your mother, father or child has long moved away. The mohair sweater you pushed to the bottom drawer years ago. Touch them with your eyes closed. Feel the memories.

TASTE: You’ve found a hamburger that reminds you of the “old days”. The cherry coke you drank after school at the corner malthouse that has now returned to 1950s-style diners. Think about who you were with, your favorite outfit, hairstyle, friends. What were the favorite songs you played on the juke box when you were at the malt house?

SCENT: That’s one sense we couldn’t do without. This is a tried and true resource for bringing back memories. Animals feed on it, people take it for granted. However, without smell, food would have no taste. Imagine a world without the taste of food! What if there was a fire? Without the smell, you would have no warning.

Now sit down at your computer or pick up your lined yellow notepad. Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your nose. Now think back to your youth. Think of the wet grass early in the morning that you used to enjoy running with your bare feet. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Think about how the dirt smelled after a heavy, heavy rain. Breathe in again. Think about how bad your dog smelled after being caught in heavy, heavy rain. Don’t breathe!

One thing about smell is that most people can attach some kind of memory to it. You often hear it, “Oh, what a smell. It reminds me of when I was…” Some of us remember the sweet smell of our father’s pipe tobacco. The smell of our mother when she worked in the kitchen; fried chicken, ham baking in the oven, the smells that clung to her as she went about her tasks. She smells when she got dressed to go to town with her dad; the cologne that surrounded her as she bent down to kiss us goodnight. Soothing scent.

Then take those memories one by one and explain them to improve your writing memories. Try to associate these memories with another memory. One sentence on a page can go on for another ten pages as you recall smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing, all associated with the seasons of your life. All of these memories can be evoked by most of the senses, but smell brings them back more easily.

Try to remember what was happening in the world at the time you are writing about. What year was it? Open Wikipedia.org in your browser and type in a year. Amazing what you can find when you try. Start with that year on your document. As you write, those memories will reflect other memories from that time. More associations. Write the month or season. If these memories take you to another year, start another page for this year.

When you do, don’t be tempted to edit. Let your fingers fly and your memories flow. Breathe in the smells. Write what comes to mind when you are in that ancient room with your family. Don’t stop until you run out of ideas.

When you come back to your story, whether it’s a day later or a week later, go back to those memories and take a breath. More to come. As the years go by on your document, you will remember more: Your class; the smell of chalk, the smell of sweaty children after recess. You will remember the children you played with; bullies, friends. Write it down. All these memories made you who you are. They must be included so that you know what made you the person you are. Your children need to know this.

Immerse yourself in the smell of: Your college dorm, stale beer, dirty socks and cigarettes. Or dances, dates with great looking boys and bodices that smelled of lavender and gardenia. Memories flood one after another. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to evoke memories from your sense of smell.

Give it a try and let me know how it worked!

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