Drawing out the stories

As we head towards our winter break, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to our second workshop, including a few new faces – so wonderful to have a roomful of people making memory maps!

I first used memory mapping as a writing prompt at a workshop run by the fabulous Wolf At The Door, and you can find more about the technique in their book Writing Your Way. Basically, you don’t write at all for the first half hour – instead, you create a map of a well-known place, usually a childhood landscape. The ‘map’ doesn’t have to be accurate at all, but can be colourful and covered with sketches, doodles and explanatory notes.


Bit by bit, layer by layer, you add in memories. What did you call the roads and secret places? Remembering your childhood names for things often unearths rich, playful, poetical language…


Then you add in people, and what you remember about them. Could they become characters in your stories, did they have an impact on your life?


You remember the natural world – the great climbing trees, the best mud pie patches, the blackberrying spots, and all the animals you knew.


You think about the sounds, textures, colours, seasons and SMELLS of your remembered places…

And then all the stories spring up, all over your map, practically writing themselves!!


In our workshop, we then went on to take still pictures of key locations, creating an iPad timeline that was a kind of journey through the map. Each still photo was then treated using the ‘Ken Burns’ effect, which is a slow zoom-out that gives motion to still pictures. Everyone recorded a short story from their map simply by speaking and recording into the iPad. Bosh! We heard about beloved ponies, thwarted burglaries, bridesmaids on mopeds, fighting off hyenas, the joy of fairground chips…

What stories might come back to you if you made a map like this? Try it and send them to us for the blog!!

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