On January 25, 2018, One Earth Writing CEO Lynne Golodner led 18 students from Detroit Country Day School’s Middle School in writing about their earliest memories. The conversation focused on finding clues from early in life to help teens focus on who they are and who they are meant to be.

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

We gave every student a notebook and a pen, then asked them to close their eyes, listen to Lynne’s voice as she asked a series of questions, and then write their responses. Writing can be as simple as making lists, accessing memories, finding the truth lurking beneath the surface.

Lynne asked the students to write answers to these 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 finished writing, students devoted 10 minutes to free-writing about whichever answer spoke to them most. Lynne encouraged them to add details, senses, depth, to build a scene. Show don’t tell!

After writing, students discussed whether they thought the task was hard or easy, were they surprised by what came forth, where else they’d like to go.

Some wrote about the memories inspired by the prompt. Others shared surprise when they thought they’d write about a favorite topic, but chose something altogether different.

In creative writing , there are no rules. The goal is to let ideas emerge so you can return to them with a fresh perspective. See below one example from the Detroit Country Day writers workshop.

Life, a curious adventure through the woods or through a green, big, and playful laundry basket I ran towards the handle picked it with brute force and placed it on my bed gently Astronauts, the people in space who explore planets larger than the Earth in so many ways. Mr Akpinar reporting for duty, once I was an astronaut, next I was a robot, afterwards, a race-car driver then … me. Imagination took over my head the trend was glorious in these days that were sweet. Running around and bouncing everywhere, I grew and grew, and grew. Picking up books opening the covers, enjoying my time. Though in a flash it went by. I might say the journey was thrilling, fun, and imaginative but it has not ended yet because that astronaut, race-car driver, and robot still bounces around, adventuring through life.