On January 25, 2018, eighteen middle schoolers were brought together from Detroit Country Day Middle School, to think about their earliest memories because chances are, they become clues to who you really are.

Can you identify your natural talents and interests? What are they and have you lost touch with them today? In this writers workshop, we explored how our identities can and should form an ongoing conversation with the self toward figuring out your unique purpose in the world, and drive you toward pursuing it.

Each student was given a notebook and pen then they were asked to close their eyes, listen to Lynne’s voice as she asked a series of questions, in which they would then make a list in return. Whenever you encounter new information, our minds try to make sense of it immediately. When asked a question, we travel through a wave of information, scanning to figure out what we’re seeing in a physical sense. Somehow, writing has been misrepresented as a composition with a proper introduction, conclusion, and main points sandwiched in between. But writing can be as simple as making lists.

Lynne asked the students to close their eyes, and with eyes closed, write on a page answers to the following questions:

What is your earliest memory of fun? What are you doing? Where are you? Who else is there? 

What is your earliest memory of sadness? 

What is your earliest memory of a person? Who is this person? What does their voice sound like? What are they saying to you?

When they were done writing, they took the next 10 minutes to free-write about whichever one spoke to them most strongly. They were encouraged to add details, senses, depth to the scene. Show don’t tell!

After the time was up, students were asked if they thought this task was easy or hard; were they surprised by what they wrote about? Some mentioned that what they wrote about was not so much about the topic but more about the memories the topic incited. Others stated they they thought they would write about their favorite topic but were surprised when they took it in a different route.

Writing lists allows you to name different topics to help you hone in on something you find interesting. In creative writing , there should be no rules. The goal is to let the ideas out so you can return to them with a fresh perspective. See below one example from the Detroit Country Day writers workshop.