Just Write! Think about a Special Place

Writing while exploring our memories and family histories is a good use of time while staying put

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is Part 2 in a series of writing prompts from my “Community of Writers Just Write!” workshop. The series is designed to provide us a diversion from our current woes (but don’t ignore them!). Read the first installment here.

As I’ve written before, the basic principle of writing is, “Write what you know about.” These prompts follow that principle. In the first prompt, you were asked to write about an important person in your life. This time, we shall look at an important place in your life. (My favorite place is Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, W.Va. The photos in this article are from there). I’m including my “Special Place” essay in a memoir I am writing about growing up in West Virginia. I’ll share it as soon as practical.

Blackwater Falls, Davis, W.Va.

FOCUSED FREE WRITING PROMPT 2 — An Important Place in Your LIfe

  1. Think about all those places that have been important or special to you in your life. It can be a place you’ve visited or lived in, but you should have spent a good deal of time there. Which one really stands out in your memory or in the present? It can be for negative or positive reasons. Unless a place immediately comes to mind, quickly start a list of any place that comes to mind that is important or special. When you finish the list, read back through it and pick a place.
  2. Write your choice at the top of a sheet of notebook paper, like a title. Now, go in your mind to that place. Close your eyes if it helps, but be there. Recall the place – not the details yet, but the whole place. See the place as it would be if you were there: the things, the people, and the events, whatever comes to mind. If activity is important, visualize it. Begin to jot down specific details. Such as: what you see, what you hear, what you touch or feel with your skin, hands, body (temperature, etc.), what you smell, what you taste, anything that reminds you of this place.
  3. How does being in this place make you feel?
  4. As you remember the times you were in this place, it might be difficult to look at the whole place because specific events or memories may come to mind. In fact, these events or memories may stand out from all the rest in your memory. Choose one and free write about it. Repeat this a few times until you feel you have dealt with all the most important scenes, memories or experiences.
  5. Do you see a pattern in the things that have stood out in your memory about this place? If so, what? Why?
  6. What in the rest of your life has caused you to feel the way you do about this place?
  7. Have your experiences with this place had an effect on any other part of your life?
  8. What is really important to you about this place?
  9. Who could really benefit from knowing this place as you do? How or why could they benefit?
  10. Is there anything else about this place that people should know?
  11. Using your answers, compose an essay about this important place in your life. Consider your audience. Is this story like a feature story in a newspaper for a general audience, or more for family? Keep the audience in mind as you write. Hold onto your essay, as you will be referring to it again as we write additional prompts to put together a larger story.

Thanks for reading! It is our hope this provides you with an enjoyable diversion and helps strengthen the bonds of love and mutual dependence with your family, friends and in your community. Check back soon for the next installment.

Sunset over the Blackwater Canyon, Davis, W.Va.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2001-2020. This may be reprinted or reproduced without charge or request. We just request that proper attribution be given.

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