How to Write Nostalgia
- The best nostalgic writing is always based on real memories. It’s much easier to write as you get older and the world changes more and more around you, while your memories of the past get more and more solidified from playing them over and over in your head.
- The memories should be shared with your audience. Bring out details from the past that other people will remember as well. It works best if these memories are things that people haven’t thought about for a long time, so that their reaction is a sudden “Oh yeeeeeah!” moment.
- They should come from a specific time. Nostalgia shouldn’t just be about “the past,” but should be about a specific time period, for example “The 60s” or “When I Was in 3rd Grade.” Once you choose a specific time, dig into it for as many details as you can and pick out the ones that you think are especially unique and memorable.
- The memories need to be presented in a positive light, shorn of all negativity, discomfort, anxiety, etc. Nostalgia looks back on the past as a pure, perfect time of life.
When to Use Nostalgia
Nostalgia can be a great inspiration for short stories and poems. If there’s a time in your life that you remember fondly, put those memories on paper and shape them into a story or poem. In formal essays, there’s really not much point in using nostalgia. It may come up along the way, for example if you’re writing a paper about the Beatles and your reader looks back fondly on their memories of the 1960s. However, your purpose in an essay is to make an argument, not to evoke nostalgia. In fact, nostalgia can often be a bad thing in history papers, because it erases certain aspects of the truth — those that are negative or painful.