This is a great way of getting going/self-generating in a spontaneous, stress-free way.

STEP ONE: Give yourself one minute to explore each of the following “firsts” . . . 

  1. My first memory . . . 
  2. The first time I ever tasted a favourite food . . . 
  3. My first day of school . . . 
  4. The first time I remember crying . . . 
  5. The first time I was ever really truly scared . . . 
  6. The first time I felt really truly loved . . . 
  7. My first crush/date . . . 
  8. My first sexual feeling or experience . . . 
  9. The first time I ever lost something (or someone) that I loved . . . 
  10. The first time I ever hurt somebody (intentionally or unintentionally) . . . 
  11. The first time I was ever hurt by somebody . . . 
  12. The first time I ever had a gigantic fight with someone . . . 
  13. The first time I remember feeling totally misunderstood . . . 
  14. The first time I lied or cheated or stole . . . 
  15. The first time I had to make a big decision for myself . . . 
  16. The first time I was left in charge of something important . . . 
  17. The first time I was ever away from home/traveled somewhere by myself . . . 
  18. The first time I experienced illness (directly, or a loved-one) . . . 
  19. The first time I received a gift that I absolutely loved . . . 
  20. The first time I met someone who I would know for a good long time . . . 

TIPS: Challenge yourself to not take your pencil off the page. Even if you can’t remember, or the memory doesn’t resonate with you, write something—anything! At one minute, even if you are mid-sentence or have more to say, you MUST move on! Feel free to write in point form, so long as you’re sure to write in the FIRST PERSON.

STEP TWO: After you get through the list, go back and choose three memories that you want to explore more fully. Give yourself three minutes to expand on each memory, one after the other.

STEP THREE: Choose one of the three, and continue exploring it as a monologue. If having a deadline helps, give yourself ten minutes.

IF WORKING IN A GROUP: Choose a partner, and read your first draft to them, unedited, word for word. Ask them to ask you questions to help you flesh it out. Good things for a dramaturge to ask or say:

I wanted to know more about ________________
I was confused when ________________________
I encourage you to further explore _____________
A lasting image was _________________________

THINGS TO CONSIDER: Experiment with form and style, rhythm, repetition, using different voices, time (linear and non), how where you are and who you’re talking to impacts your voice. If working in a “collective creation” setting, it’s sometimes informative and fun to have a group of your peers take the story and physicalize it. Consider asking someone else to read it out loud—sometimes it helps hearing how other actors inhabit your words.