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What I learned by writing a 91-word memoir

Sometimes limiting yourself forces a sort of creativity. Boundaries open up possibilities. I learned this recently while writing to a specific word count for a contest.

The 91-Word Memoir Writing contest sponsored by the Gotham Writers’ Workshop celebrates longtime Gotham student Norma Crosier (left) who died in July five days before her 91st birthday. The deadline to enter is October 15, 2012. The winner will receive a 10-week workshop and $91 cash.

Writing a 91-word memoir felt like flash fiction mixed with poetry.

Here are some tips:

  • Each word counts, choose carefully.
  • Create vivid images.
  • Use precise language.
  • Grip readers with a strong beginning and ending.
  • Strip away the backstory.
  • Avoid detours. Does each image and sentence pertain to the theme or idea of the story?

Exercise. Think about vivid memories or moments in your life and write a 91-word memoir. Then enter it in the contest.

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