Explore Memories of Your 1st Day at School

Most people remember their first day at school, or at least something about it… especially if it was particularly emotional. The ends of the continuum from traumatic to ecstatic are always where extreme emotions lie and thus these leave stronger impressions.

Consider your 1st day of school and place it somewhere on the following continuum:

What value would you score your first experience in the classroom?

Now, write a sentence that focusses on the reason you chose this rating. Was it a happy day or a difficult day?

Jot down any memories that pop into your head…

To access, clarify or expand your memories of this significant life experience, ask yourself some, or all, of the following questions:

  • What comments were made in the family about school and my approaching attendance?
  • What did I wear?
  • How did I get there?
  • Who took me?
  • What instructions was I given from home?
  • Was I anxious, excited, boisterous, quiet…?
  • What were my first impressions?
  • How did these change during the day?
  • What was the room like?
  • Who was my teacher? Did I like him/her?
  • How many children were there?
  • Did I connect with anyone?
  • What did I do in class?
  • How did I get home at the end of the day?
  • Was my experience discussed over dinner that night?
  • What was said?

Add any further questions stimulated by this list…

Combine the answers to these questions with your original jottings of memories of the day.

Use these notes to shape the tale of your first school experience, written from the heart… so it tells not just what happened that day, but also how you felt about it and perhaps even the effect it had on you going forward.


You will find my musings about my first day of school Here

Writing Exercise #26

Take Stock Of Your Writing Goals

This exercise is a quick way to take stock of your writing goals. It is useful any time you wish to review your progress, reassess your goals and/or refocus on your writing. It is also a perfect exercise to find new direction after you’ve been derailed by some taxing and emotional event such as a bushfire like those that ravage our country this summer.

Take the following questions one by one and answer them as fully as you can:

  • What were my writing hopes for this period (the last year, 3 months, month etc)?
  • What did I achieve?
  • What is the difference between my hopes and achievements?
  • What are my next steps?
  • What else will I do as I move forward?

Your answer to the third question will either confirm that you have achieved all you had hoped or highlight what steps you need to take to fulfil your outstanding goals. Identifying these steps will leave you free to consider the direction your writing will take as you move into the next month, quarter or year. This, then, is the foundation for your next set of writing goals.

My Blogs ~ Reflection On My Writing Year,  Moving Forward and Looking Back and Forward combine to form an example of this process. Answering the questions as I wrote these blogs, has given me the direction I need to refocus on my Writing Journey for 2020 after losing most of January to the bushfires.

Writing Exercise #25

Clearing The Mind ~ B

Glass Jar Exercise:

  • Sit in a comfortable position, back straight, hands in lap
  • Close your eyes
  • Take a slow breath in and release it
  • Take five more such breaths, feeling your body relax a little more with each one
  • Turn your attention to any thoughts or images that come into your mind… just notice them… What are they about? … What are they like?
  • Now imagine that you put all these thoughts and images into a glass jar and watch them…
  • Turn the jar over, so you can see the thoughts and images from various perspectives… Are they different shapes and colours? … What do they do as you watch them? …
  • As more thoughts and images come into your mind, put them into the jar too, and see what you can learn about them…
  • Now take the jar and pour out the thoughts and images…
  • Watch as they pour out and disappear, leaving the jar empty…
  • Return your attention to your breathing, and count your breaths backwards from 10 to 1.
  • Slowly become aware of your surroundings… outside noises, sounds in the room, where you’re sitting in relation to the furniture and other people in the room…
  • When you’re ready, open your eyes

This Writing Exercise relates to my Blogs ~ The Writing Zone and ~ Mindful Writing, Writing Exercise #24 ~ Clearing The Mind and Writing Tip #23.

Writing Exercise #24

Clearing The Mind  

In order to get into the zone for writing, it is useful to clear our minds of ‘head-chatter’. This is mind activity made up of the remnants of whatever day to day activities we’ve been involved in prior to moving into our writing time.

Thoughts continually come and go, and vie for top position in our minds. Attached to these thoughts are emotions, which distract us from our task unless we still them. Willing them away is often not enough to dislodge them, so we need to clear them out – at least for the duration of our writing session.

There are various mind-clearing techniques, but for now the following simple exercise will give you a starting point to work with until my next post.

Exercise ~

    • Sit quietly and consider your day so far. What have you been doing? Has it been a pleasant morning/day? Have you had issues to deal with? Have you been feeling overloaded? Have you been relaxing?
    • Move backwards to yesterday and ask yourself similar questions and any others that come to mind. Now, the day before yesterday, the last week… and so on, until you start to pass from what is close to the surface of your mind to what you have to dredge up. (At this point you’re going into memories and not thoughts or images currently bouncing around your mind.)
    • Write a list of as many of the thoughts, feelings, images, conversations and issues that rush from you in light of your most recent experiences.
    • When you think the list is exhaustive, close your eyes and allow more thoughts or feelings to surface. Add these to your list.
    • Repeat this last step until your mind is clear of current/recent events. These have now been set aside for another time or have lost their immediate importance.
    • At this point you’re ready to move into your writing zone. Connect with your computer or notebook and delve into your writing session.

This exercise is similar to one I use when I can’t sleep at night because all the tasks I have for the following day invade my mind and push to be remembered. In this case, I write a list of everything I can think of that needs to be done. Then I prioritise them and put the list where I’ll see it in the morning.

This process takes the thoughts/worry about the tasks out of my brain and onto the paper. It also underlines the fact that I can’t do anything more towards them until morning – thus freeing me to sleep.


This Writing Exercise relates to Blog ~ The Writing Zone and Writing Tip #23.


Writing Exercise #23

Reinforce Your Writing Goals

Setting goals is not enough to make our dreams come true. Setting realistic goals is not even enough to make them come to fruition. There are additional steps to take if we want to achieve success.

Setting SMART and realistic goals, and writing a commitment to yourself to achieve them are covered in my earlier Blogs ~ Prepare To Set Writing Goals That Can Succeed, Construct Writing Goals That Can Succeed and Turn The Opportunity To Succeed Into Success.

What else can you do? Find ways to reinforce your commitment. One such way is to make a collage. The energy you give to this task, and therefore your writing goals, will multiply the possibility of creating the desired outcome.

Exercise ~

Clarify and list your writing goals for 2019.

  • Write about a page that summarises the outcomes you want to achieve. This may be prose or poetry – whatever comes at the time. Just let your creative juices flow…
  • Identify key words, phrases, pictures/photographs, objects, or anything else that will symbolise the essence of each of your goals.
  • Gather these items – take your time with this part of the exercise and make sure you have the most meaningful representation for each goal. For example, a goal might be ‘freedom to write’ – which could have many different meanings, depending on the circumstances. While one person may choose a deserted bush scene to indicate ‘freedom’, another may select a photograph of themselves flying a glider… because they remember the sensation that they were souring on the back of a huge bird with no sound other than the hiss of the wind… and someone else, may simply find a feather for their project.
  • Check that your items are specific and personal. Replace them if necessary.
  • Arrange your items on a sheet of cardboard – or two, or three, or four. I once made a huge collage to represent life goals, using four sheets of coloured cardboard taped together, and it continues to bring rewards twenty years later!
  • Take a break, then come back to your collage with fresh eyes. Do this for as short or as long as feels comfortable – but don’t take so long that you give up!
  • Secure your treasures to the cardboard.
  • Hang your masterpiece where your eyes will naturally rest on it several times each day – to reinforce the power of manifestation.
  • Trust the universe to bring you the opportunities to meet your goals.
  • Take action… and enjoy a successful writing year!

This Writing Exercise relates to my Blog ~ Reinforcing Your Writing Goals.

Writing Exercise #22

Interview Questions 

Interviews can be formal or informal, and the level of intensity of questions asked ideally reflect the circumstances of the interview.

This is a practical exercise that you can utilise over and again in your writing research.

Exercise ~

Write down a topic you need to research for a writing project – now or in the future.

Make a list of possible people to interview.

Choose one person from your list and learn as much as you can about them in relation to your chosen topic.

Brainstorm a list of possible questions to ask this person about your topic.

Cull this list to focus on the most appropriate questions, given the interviewee’s background.

Check each question to identify whether it is an Open Question or a Closed Question.

Re-write any Closed Questions, which would be more productive as Open Questions.

Arrange the questions in order, ready for your interview.

Familiarise yourself with the process you plan to follow, to give the interview every chance of running smoothly.

Enjoy the interview, be flexible, and be open to surprises…


This Exercise relates to ~ Blogs Pondering Questions and Asking Questions, Exercise # 21 Questions and Writing, and Tip # 21.

Writing Exercise #21

Questions and Writing

Questions are used throughout the writing process… from decision-making about what we’ll write, through the research and planning stages, the writing, and on to the marketing and promotional stages.

Exercise ~

Make a list of all the ways you use questions in your writing life. Begin by brainstorming, then add to your list as new examples come to mind.

Reshape your list by rearranging items into positions that feel right to you.

Take some time to ponder the list, and the significance of questions to your work.

Write a piece that highlights the usefulness of questions in relation to your writing.

Ask yourself how many questions you asked during this exercise. You may be surprised!


This Writing Exercise relates to my Blog ~ Pondering Questions

Writing Exercise #20

First Day At School

Our first day at school is one of the turning points in our lives. This is when we step from full-time parental protection into the world of shared protection from other adults.

These people play a role in shaping the foundations of who we become, and the students who share our first-day experience have the potential to be life-long friends, again influencing our future.

The school our parents choose for us, usually reflects the family background – financial status, belief systems, and so on. The chosen school also makes an impact on where our first step on the long road to independence will take us.

Exercise ~

Brainstorm at random, the things you remember about your first day at school.

Ask yourself questions to help you find more memories to add to your list. Questions like: What school did I attend? Where was it? What did I wear? What do I remember about getting ready? How did I feel? Was I upset or happy to be there? What happened in the first hour? What did I do at lunch-time and play-time? What was my first impression of the playground? How would I describe the room and where I sat? What sounds, odours, colours and textures do I remember? What was the teacher like? What do I remember about the other children? How did I get to and from school?

Write a piece of three hundred words or more, that gives the reader an insight into your first day at school, your experience, and the important things that have stayed with you from that day.

If you don’t remember your first day at school, substitute the first day of preschool, high school, university, first job… and change the questions to appropriate ones for the circumstances you are exploring.

Writing Exercise #19

A New Approach To Childhood Stories

This is a fun exercise that challenges you to re-think stories and ideas that have been dear to you since childhood. With the benefit of life experiences and shifting perspectives, you may be surprised at the tales you create!

Follow the steps below and see where they take you…

>  Make a list of your favourite fairy tales and stories from childhood.

>  Choose one of these narratives and re-write it with a different ending.

>  If you have difficulty changing a beloved tale, try the exercise with a childhood story that left you unsatisfied. This is your chance to turn it into a favourite!

>  Make any necessary adjustments to your new storyline and do a first edit.

Enjoy the journey!

Writing Exercise #18

Drawing On Past Connections

As we traverse the landscape of life, we live out (and outlive) many roles – both personally and professionally. We are children, siblings, sons and daughters, parents, grandparents and sometimes great-grandparents. We are students, teachers, friends, partners, workers, bosses, and so on…

Over the years we pass through many phases – different careers, house moves, living interstate or abroad, a range of much-loved activities – and experience unique highs and lows.

Put simply, even when a person is plodding through what appears to be the most mundane existence, there are abundant writing opportunities. That is not to say that everything we write that is stimulated by events in our lives must be autobiographical. Of course, they could be… but think laterally.

Let’s take as an example a single aspect of one of my career evolutions. In the eighties and nineties, I was in private practice… counselling, groupwork and natural therapies. Part of my work was in the prison system and I could write about my experiences, or I could choose from many other options – a novel, from the point-of-view of a prisoner (or their partner, a child or parent); a movie, with the central theme of a break-out; non-fiction books/articles… the history of prisons (generally, in this country), the effectiveness of the system, the demographics of crime, an examination of prisoners’ rights; the value of therapeutic work in prisons, transition programs, or the experiences of prisoners’ families while they are inside. And this barely scratches the surface of possibilities.

Exercise ~

>  Consider the various stages of your life and brainstorm them onto paper.

>  Choose one stage and ask yourself… What friendships, relationships and other connections would inform my writing if I revisited this period?

> Write a focussing paragraph beginning with ‘When I lived at…’, ‘When I worked at…’, ‘When I used to fly aeroplanes…’, or similar.

> Take a step back in time by looking at old photographs, reading letters you received/wrote during that stage of your life, reconnecting with people you knew back then – via phone, email, Facebook or some other means.

It is likely your creative juices will be rampant by the end of this journey into the past. List any writing possibilities that are pushing for attention, select one and let your fingers dance on the computer keyboard!


This Writing Exercise is related to Writing Tip #18, Writing Exercise #16 ~ Journey Into A Photograph, Writing Exercise #17 ~ Take Five Words, Blog ~ Reconnecting and Blog ~ Hidden Stories Lurk In Photograph Albums.