During breaks in your holiday celebrations, get ready for the Year of the Memoir–2012! Here’s a tip for each month, or you can try one a day for the 12 days of Christmas.

1. Freewrite often. Definition of freewrite: put your pen on paper, or fingers on keyboard. Write fast without stopping for 15 minutes — this bypasses the inner critic.

2. Freewrite your stories in short bursts 15-20 minutes every day. Or three times a week. Remember: the more you write, the more you will want to, be able to, feel like writing. Writing begats writing.

3. Photos help you remember. Write from your favorite photos–describe the scene, who is in the photo, what they are wearing. Imagine what people are doing before and after  the photo was snapped.

4. How do current events in the news connect you to your memories? Freewrite for 15 minutes your thoughts, memories, and feelings.

5. Build the structure of your memoir this way: Find 10-20 Turning Points that mark significant moments in your life. You can’t write everything. You have to choose turning points or stepping points that can organize your thoughts.

6. Write each turning point over a month’s time. Visualize your scenes, experiment with dialogue, write character sketches.

7. Music helps us remember. Listen to the tunes of the past and write your memories as they appear to you.

8. Let your nose lead you to new memories. Bake a batch of Christmas cookies, light a candle, invite the scent of pine needles to weave a story.

9. Google research is your friend. Google Earth can take you to your home town, down the streets and near the shops and schools that you remember. You can look for old friends on Facebook, or other social networking sites. Connect, talk about what you remember. Collect stories and memories from people, and write, write, write.

10. Interview siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and parents. Audiotape stories in person with a digital recorder. Audiorecord by phone using AudioAcrobat. Connect groups of family member with a conference call, and tape the call with AudioAcrobat.

11. Geneological research can connect you with other family members and their stories. Ancestry.com can help you learn more about your history and create some of your own.

12. Workshops–online and in person, critique groups, teleseminars, and conferences all help to feed your writing life. The three c’s are your friend: Connection, conversation, and critique. We at NAMW are here to help you through our newsletters, free Roundtables, and our member connections and services. Join our open Facebook group and connect!