MANY OF MY STUDENTS wrestle with the “what to write” question, a nearly hand-to-hand combat with which I have great familiarity. As a young New York Times employee, I used to marvel at the other cubs who seemed never to be at a loss for ideas. Me, I wrestled, which is one of the reasons I try to supply you with a regular influx of ideas, things to react to, as well as some good old-fashioned provocation. Need some now?
Along with an idea, the very best way to motivate you to bring the piece to the page is to have a personal/professional interest in the topic. What do I mean by that? Maybe you have elderly parents, and maybe you worry about the myriad things that can go wrong with their care, and maybe you’d like to write about the process of living that experience. What to do?
One is to read the New Old Age blog on The New York Times website. After you find something there to provoke you, you might find yourself writing anything from a blog comment, a letter to the editor of that blog, a blog post of your own, an op-ed, or the chapter in a book you’ve been meaning to write about love and the pressures put on it while caregiving.
In a recent post on the New Old Age blog, I found a study that addresses the neurological reasons why older people are increasingly susceptible to scams. It’s fascinating, as well as potential fodder for your very own essay. Maybe one or both of your parents have fallen prey to a scam. Maybe this study sparks something in you about aging and the brain and how we change. Maybe you’ve got your very own ideas after reading it.
Ideas for memoir writing are everywhere in this media-rich time. Look around. Read. And react. It’s what writers do. Yes, even memoir writers. Going through a long term care situation with an aging parent, partner or friend? Do some research, and let us in on the journey. Tell us about your world, and you’ll inform us about our own.