Keeping the mind in shape with memoir-writing

Memoir writers from one of the Chicago classes I leadIn addition to my job moderating this blog for Easter Seals Headquarters, I also lead three different memoir-writing classes every week for senior citizens here in Chicago. Mary Leary’s guest post last Friday served as a reminder of how much getting memories down on paper can help seniors with brain health, too.

Writers in those classes tell me that writing a story down on paper for class each week keeps their brains working. Sitting down to write provides a person with time to think, and then to search their brain for just the right word. If that fails, searching through the dictionary can solve the quandary and expose writers to new words, too. Writing a story down on paper makes it feel more official, and because I have every writer read their story out loud in class, they think hard about what they write.

Writers in my classes tell me how important they think it is for them to stay active, both in body and in mind. One writer said she thinks about her brain as a muscle. She tells me, “The more you use your brain, the stronger it gets!”

My memoir-writing classes took a break over the holidays, but one of them starts up again this afternoon, January 6. In addition to giving them a new writing assignment, I’ll be giving them information about how Easter Seals has teamed up with Posit Science to start a special Train Your Brain program. Writers in that class are a curious bunch—I know they’ll want to learn more about the brain training exercises there, and they’ll want to read about the new initiatives around brain health on the Easter Seals Brain Health Center webpage. After all, as one expert says, “The more you use your brain, the stronger it gets!”


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  13. Beth Finke Says:

    Yes — everyone brings a copy of what they’ve written with them to class, and each writer reads the essay they’ve written out loud. Ideal for sharing life stories with others!

  14. Mary Carroll Says:

    Do your writets get together to write and share? I used to teach writing classes for College of DuPage and we used the peer editing process. I only have a desktop right now, so I would write in class in longhand.But to do the peer editing process, in the old days, everyone had their own paper copy. In today’s paperless world, I think documents are shared.(?)What do I know–I retired 13 years ago!

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