Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Holidays For Writing Research


Setting sun between bare trees on a winter afternoon
with snow on the ground

If you are writing about your memories, the holidays can be a fertile time for (even passive) research. You can try to hunt down answers to questions, interview loved ones or work on being present in the moment.

Before you start wrapping presents or planning what you'll cook, take a few minutes to write down questions about your past. Maybe you want to remember how to prepare Aunt Sally's famous pie or what your favorite holiday decoration looks like. List these questions somewhere and keep them close over the holidays when you see folks or your memories are stirred by certain smells or sounds.

If you are hoping to interview, formally or informally, loved ones over the holiday, come prepared. You might start by watching StoryCorps' video, "Best Practices for Conducting an Interview" and reading their list of Great Questions. Overall, I think your goal should be to ask both open-ended questions and specific ones, if you have them. You should also double-up on your record keeping in case you encounter technical difficulties (for example, take notes by hand and use your phone to video the discussion.) 

Finally, keep a notebook close (or phone, my preferred method of jotting down quick notes these days). Be present and use your five senses to experience each moment. You never know when you might have a 'madeleine moment'. 

Good luck and I hope you'll let me know how it goes!


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