Today, I ask my students to describe their childhood backyard. It’s a lesson on setting. I don’t give any instruction other than to use as much sensory detail as possible. “Just write and see what happens. See what your brain does with this.”
I’m fascinated by the results. Students write about things they don’t expect: the way the grass felt on bare feet; the jagged edge of a fence; the sound of a mother calling them in for dinner; the slope of a landscape; the shimmer of a creek in the sunlight.
They write for five minutes, and then I ask them to interpret what they remember. Do the objects or the sensations have symbolic meaning to you now? Is there a reason why you remember what you do?
Writing down our memories of places helps us understand something about ourselves. We gain insight because of what we remember. I love just putting the pen to the page with no other instruction than to “Just write and see what happens.” I want to do this every day just to see what happens.
Do you ever begin writing just to see what your brain does?