Friday, July 15th, 2011

Writing Prompt: I Don’t Remember…

Man Scratching His HeadI once punched a horse right on the nose.

I don’t remember this incident at all. But my Mom tells me it happened, and she wouldn’t lie.

The story goes that we were out…somewhere… (I can’t even remember what she’s told me several times), probably a petting zoo or something like that. It was hot, and I was wearing a straw hat in deference to the sun. Out of nowhere, a horse walked up to me and started eating my hat.

So, I punched it. Hard. And got my hat back.

There were some repercussions. I don’t remember these either.

But this hole in my memory is a pretty interesting thing. What I don’t know, I can imagine. And this non-knowledge is free for me to take and build upon. It’s wonderful fodder for a story or poem or a single scene in a larger work.

Thinking about what we don’t know exercises the brain in a way completely different than what we’re often admonished to do. (Write what you know, eh?)

Consider this:  how about not remembering something that’s absent in your life? I don’t remember ever having a family reunion. I don’t remember being in the “in” crowd in high school. I don’t remember ever being chased by zombies…

This is just another way to exercise your brain and consider something from an unfamiliar angle.

Here’s Your Prompt:

Write or type, “I Don’t Remember…” at the top of a sheet of paper and start writing. You must fill the page. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to do it: 20 minutes or all day. The point is to not just come up with a single item, but to think hard about the situation and include all the details.

If you get stuck, write the phrase, “I don’t remember” and continue to do so until your brain catches up. It’s important to write this phrase, rather than think it over and over.

It doesn’t matter if what you write about is a real memory or a non-memory. It could even be the memory of one of your characters.

Do you see a pattern emerging from your thoughts? Do you recognize old themes that permeate your writing? Have you found something new?

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