Writing memory through colour

Hello beautiful writers.

Today I thought it might be nice to share a new writing prompt. I used this recently when working with the young women writers on the HAY Youth programme. I feel it could be useful for both developing and established writers, especially as the bedrock of the exercise is memory – something we can all dive into and explore!

Icebreaker exercise:

(Normally done in groups, but the results on our own are interesting too).

I want us to think about ourselves as writers. For five minutes, assess yourself as a writer, using these questions as guidelines. Write freely, and watch for that nagging voice of perfection; just go with what comes:

  1. Do you like to write?
  2. What are your hang-ups about writing? What frustrates you/concerns you/puts you off?
  3. Do you have any distinct memories associated with writing as a child – were you encouraged, discouraged? Go into detail (for yourself)
  4. What inspires you as a writer – what do you truly enjoy exploring through language.
  5. Why do you write?

Next: For yourself, go through each answer, thought, or phrase you have written down and put a plus or minus sign next to each one, depending. The plus sign is to signify whether something is about a sense of pleasure or achievement, and the minus to signify something to do with failure or disappointment/pain. Just let this sink in. What does this say about your experiences as writers so far? How might this affect your perception of yourself as a writer too? – how you see yourself.

Main exercise

  • Take one outstanding memory that you have has a writer, positive or negative. Jot it down at the top of your page. Take time to decide. Choose something compelling, and yummy for you as a writer
  • Now write about this memory, in terms of colour only. Take yourself back to that event, recall the colours, the scents, the sounds: you can write about all of these in terms of colour. For example, my memory of writing about a cat. The colour of the cat (brown, black, white) golden sunlight, the blue snow, what it felt to be writing this – if you could give the feeling a colour, what would it be? (blood orange, the warmth but also the energy of that).
  • Think about place too: where were you? What colours were the walls, the floor, your clothes, the clothes of those around you. What as the light like? Build a picture of this memory through colour, also tapping into emotion and pinpointing this as a colour too.

This exercise is designed to place you vividly in the world of the memory, but as a writer, using your creative tools to help you explore it in a different way. Remember there’s no right or wrong, be free with and expressive.