And there it is! Life is a rough draft! You’re experienced in rough drafts, so why not write a rough draft of your stories? I have a friend who recently lost a parent. In a post from her experience, she encouraged parents to leave memories, stating that children love mementos and enjoy reading their parents’ stories. My parents passed many years ago. I still wish I had their stories.

Whether life or writing, we make mistakes (Remember your teens, twenties, or thirties?). We learn, we adjust. We change. In life, we have the Great Eraser–the Mind; in modern-day writing, we have cut, delete, paste, and copy. Keeping in mind it’s not final until it’s final and putting one foot in front of the other, you can create a legacy for our children.

Consider these steps in creating a rough written draft of your stories:

1. Start by mind mapping or cluster mapping a topic (Directions for both tools can be found online). Through mapping, we start with one concept and expand on it, recording things we already know, bringing up forgotten memories and connections. We don’t have to start with birth; we can start in the middle, at the end, or during one event. I recently wrote a prom scene. At the center of my page, I wrote “prom” and circled it; then spoked out with related concepts which took me to such things as hairdos of the era; baths and water additives to create scented bubbles; corsages and boutonnieres, their proper placement; popular cars, music, and dances of the day.

2. Once the topic is decided, the story needs energy, in other words, research. Research on my connections related to the word “prom” catapulted me into memories with details. Without this research, my story would have fallen flat.

3. Make an outline. I know, I know. Outline, schmoutline! But outlines work the same way our spine does. An outline bolsters the structure: one item leads to the other and we are never without something to write about next. (Of course, the reward is marking each item “complete,” right?)

4. You might consider, as many writers, screenwriters, and authors do, breaking down your story into three acts. Act 1—Setup: exposition, inciting incident, plot point one; Act II—Confrontation: rising action, midpoint, plot point two: and Act III—Resolution: pre-climax, climax, denouement (climax).

5. Now let’s write. Find a quiet space where you can focus, undistracted. Surround yourself by pictures or memorabilia concerning your topic. Keep in mind, life’s rough draft is not perfect, neither is your writing. Although, I’ve had the Great Eraser throughout my life, I really didn’t use it until my forties. In the same way, as you write the rough draft of your stories, don’t cut, delete, or paste until it has matured in a darkened drawer for several days/weeks/months. I don’t look at my rough drafts until I’m finished with the project, whether one story or entire book.

6. If blocked at any point, go for a walk, read a book on your topic, revisit your outline, memorabilia, or early mapping.

(By the way, don’t throw anything away! You might be able to use it in your next project.).

Start today! Follow the path you’ve already taken to create your life and create a rough draft of your stories. Your children will appreciate it! (And I would enjoy reading them 🙂