“Writing, which is my form of celebration and prayer,

is also my form of inquiry.”  Diane Ackerman


You may be at a point, when putting down some facts about your life for your family, telling some of the stories of your experiences for pleasure, or writing the things you remember, as a form of seeking inwardly for answers, seems a good idea. This short, five session course (offered free) will help you move through the disjointed stages of collecting material, expressing yourself, and creating something tangible. I hope you find much pleasure in the exercises I suggest, and help in the ideas I provide.

Ask yourself, “Why my life? Why now? When you have the answer, you have your central focus for moving ahead.

Journaling is a rich source of information. You may have been writing in a diary or journal all of your life. If not, I suggest you start now. Choose a time and place and discipline yourself to write. This can be as little as ten minutes before you go to bed, or as long as an entire morning. There are different ways of journaling:

 Journaling to find your voice – styles of journaling. You experiment with different formats for journaling identify the type that suits you best.

Journaling through the senses – sensory stimulants. You experiment with sensory stimuli (e.g. lighting candles, playing music in background, writing in nature), discovering ways of increasing creativity and productivity.

Journaling to find peace – finding forgiveness. You explore areas of emotional darkness and lets them go through writing and ceremony, moving toward a lighter, brighter life.

Journaling to grow – re-visiting experience. You recall the happenings in your life to understand how they influenced your personal truths and who you are today.

Journaling to find self – being. You tally the abundance in your life, identifying that which provides your greatest joy and well-being.

Suggested Operating Systems for Write Your Life

System 1: Obtain a loose leaf binder. Make a list of headings, such as farm life, Dad, school, Olympics, the cabin, under which you can store a wealth of stories and memories, as you harvest them from your brain. Using plastic inserts, collect memorabilia that reminds you of various times in your life, about which you will write.

System 2: Another way of collecting material, is choosing a coil scribbler, with a heading at the top on each page, and a manila envelope, in which to store your collectibles. This is a little more limiting, as it doesn’t allow you to move material around, as you expand your material.

System 3: Use a computer, compiling your list of headings on one page, then expanding pages, as you choose and write stories, journal, or list facts under the various headings. Tangible objects, articles etc., might be photographed or copied and scanned into your pages.


Your sources are limitless. Collect letters, diaries, journals, pictures, mementos, newspaper articles, community info (newsletters, books published, Yearbooks, art work, music sheets).


  1. Choose which operating system best suits you and prepare your system:
  2. Write your headings on individual pages (e.g. family, school, camp, marriage, children, etc.)
  3. Under each heading make a list of story ideas or facts that will inspire a story (e.g. when Dad ran out of gas, B’s appendix attack, flunking French etc.)
  4. Choose one of your ideas under one heading and develop a piece around it, using any genre you like (e.g. short story, memoir, journaling, writing a letter, poetry, list of facts in point form etc.)

Preparation for Session#2 of Write Your Life

Find a photo that reminds you of a special time in your life.



  1. Fiona Bos
    Feb 7, 2017

    Good morning, Madelon! Hope this finds you well. This does sound interesting, but with my day-to-day I’m not sure whether I’ll have sufficient time. Are there deadlines for each session? That may help, actually!

    • Madelon
      Feb 7, 2017

      Fiona, thanks for your interest. The great thing about online and free is that you can do the course within your own timelines. The classes remain posted, so you can work through them at your pace. By following the information, exercises, and assignments, you will end up with pieces for your collection. They do not require my input, though I am always happy to answer questions. Each class provides a little more technique and insight, so you can improve your writing as you go.

  2. Michelle Dewar
    Feb 12, 2017

    Love your blog!!
    Worked on my linear map this morning. This activity brought back a lot of memories! Many many stories to write. Still have lots to add as I am trying to figure out some of the dates!!
    There is a lot to do in this lesson so I am going to work at my own pace. I’m afraid if I get overwhelmed, I won’t stick with it so I am giving myself permission to slow down and enjoy the process!!

    • Madelon
      Feb 12, 2017

      Michelle, good for you. Working at the best pace for you is smart. Yes, we identify many stories, that is why it is good to have your system in place. You can continue to list story ideas under your headings, or pick one story that is fresh in your mind and write it down. Maybe choose several and just write down some points under each. If you have a story partially begun, it invites you to flesh it out, and doesn’t seem like such a big project. Proceed in fun stages, so you continue to enjoy. Glad the course is inspiring you to write your life. M

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