Memory is always a rich source of inspiration, but sometimes we need a nudge to make the most of it. This is one of the simplest and most effective exercises I know. Just write the words ‘I remember’, and then write down whatever comes out. Every time you have finished a thought or get stuck, just write ‘I remember’ again. Keep going. Fill a page. Or write for 10 minutes without stopping.
Don’t stop, don’t cross out, don’t think. Just do.
Wait, you’re still reading? Okay, here’s one of my attempts at ‘I remember’. It’s the kind of exercise you can do over and over again, and every time will be different, and new.
In this case, I was drawing on a memory of the kookaburra who perched on the roof at my wedding, just at the close of the ceremony. I’m kind of glad to have that moment in writing, otherwise I might have forgotten it. But it’s no poem, not yet. If nothing else, this should demonstrate that what you write in exercises doesn’t have to be good, or accurate, or use proper grammar. You have complete permission to write rubbish when you’re exercising, and you have to write a lot of rubbish to get to the good stuff. What you’re doing is becoming aware of the masses of material which are already inside you, waiting for an outlet. So keep dipping into that rich well of memory, and you’re bound to find something worth keeping.