Developing Stories: ‘Mind’s Eye’ Walk

This resource is great for:
Developing stories using memories of your town.

Children’s author Mike Nicholson shares childhood memories of his town and encourages you to take a ‘mind’s eye’ walk around your local area to help write stories about where you live.

Children’s author Mike Nicholson says:Mike Nicholson

“I find that I can think back clearly to where I grew up – a big old house on a busy road in Eskbank, half way between Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg. My immediate community were the houses along our road, particularly the ones between where we lived and Watson’s newspaper shop. Even in a short stretch of main road like that there were landmarks: the pine trees across the road, the distant chimney of the carpet factory,  the camper van at number 57, the postbox in the wall in Muirpark, not to mention the people behind each of the front doors. All of these are still clear in my mind today even though only the postbox and the doors remain. It’s amazing how the places where you live become engraved in your memory.

“What I really liked about where I lived was that a short walk took you past hedgerows and fields to a disused railway and onto Newbattle Woods and the River Esk. Once again, that area has completely changed now. In fact the railway has now re-opened so everything is fresh and new. But I can still picture in great detail each of the paths I explored.”

Activity – Taking a ‘Mind’s Eye’ Walk:

Whether you’re sitting in a café, on a bus or in your armchair at home, you too can open your ‘mind’s eye’ and go on an imaginary walk around your home town.

  • Where in your town are you going to begin your ‘mind’s eye’ walk? What’s your reason for choosing that starting point? Is it an important one for everyone or just somewhere that has particular meaning for you?
  • Where does the walk take you and what are the landmarks along the way – big or small? Do any of these have special significance or do you have your own made-up names for them? In the woodland Mike used to visit there was the ‘Bear Tree’ – only his family knew it as that.
  • As you go on your walk, what else do you see? Strong memories that merit a plaque to let everyone know , or things that really need to change to make the place better?
  • If you sat for a moment on this imaginary walk and watched the world go by, who would go past? Are there conversations with neighbours or strangers? Are things fast-paced or laid back? How does the atmosphere make you feel?

A walk like this can refresh your view of somewhere you have become used to and you can have a rich source of material for developing a story, whether that be the memory of an incident on a street corner, the strange mark on a wall you’ve always wondered about or the house with the garden full of gnomes.

Take a fresh look at what your town has carved into your memory and take a moment to write about where you live.

Further information:

Mike Nicholson has been writing stories about their town with four Cumbernauld primary schools as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld residency. You can read more about our work in Cumbernauld on our Booked! blog.