Writing Challenge Day 226: Thinking of Themes

If you started with us at the beginning, you've been writing your life stories for the better part of a year. Now it's time to assess what you've written and begin to put it together into a narrative. From this point on, we will be giving you weekly assignments and tips to help along the way.

If you've recently joined us, you may want to build up a few more stories before you begin this part of the challenge. You can always come back to these posts when you are ready. To continue your daily writing, pick something else from the archive, this question list, or write more on something you wrote earlier. For more information about the challenge, read this post.


Now that you have a stack of index cards, look them over and think about the stories you've written so far, and the ones you still have yet to write. Look at your purpose, audience, and scope questions from Tuesday's exercise. Do any themes come to mind? Can you see any unifying threads among your stories? If you think of any, write them down. 

Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it’s because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives. Think small and you’ll wind up finding the big themes in your family saga.
— William Zinsser


  • Take these assignments at your own pace. They are meant only to get you started and to give you a step-by-step process. Depending on how much you have already written, it may take you longer to complete each section.
  • If you want to keep going after the 15 minutes are up, go for it! 
  • Have a question or challenge or triumph to share? Feel free to comment below.