1. Work more and better
  2. work by a schedule
  3. wash teeth if any
  4. shave
  5. take bath
  6. eat good – fruit – vegetables – milk
  7. drink very scant, if any
  8. write a song a day
  9. wear clean clothes – look good
  10. shine shoes
  11. change socks
  12. change bed clothes often
  13. read lots good books
  14. listen to radio a lot
  15. learn people better
  16. keep rancho clean
  17. don’t get lonesome
  18. stay glad
  19. keep hoping machine running
  20. dream good
  21. bank all extra money
  22. save dough
  23. have company but don’t waste time
  24. send Mary and kids money
  25. play and sing good
  26. dance better
  27. help win war – beat fascism
  28. love mama
  29. love papa
  30. love Pete
  31. love everybody
  32. make up your mind
  33. wake up and fight

kerouac list

Maps through your Bones and Skin

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)There are maps

This is a short poem by Christopher Poindexter.

It would be so easy to do an “All Curious Cats” analysis on this poem.

The poem seems to make the point that our past thoughts and experiences  act on our physical appearance and offer evidence, in the present, of our pasts.

Things in the past are connected to the present.


Write a paragraph where someone talks about their past experiences and how they have made them the person they are today.


Take a look at the links behind these phrases.

Choose one of the people involved, or create a character based on one of these people. Write about how their experiences have changed them in some way.


The task here is to reflect on the experiences of the people involved and imagine how they have affected the character’s lives and perhaps still affect them in the present.

You could write in the first person, which means you will need to imagine how this person feels about his or her past experiences and describe them as if you, the writer, have been in their shoes.

Or, you could use the third person, in which case you will still need to use your imagination but you can also take on the role of omnipotent author and describe things that your character perhaps does not consciously know or feel.

Word count and process

watts quoteThe first thing to do is to look at the links and choose one. Read the information in detail and make notes about the things that have happened and the effects they have had on your character. Think about the physical, but also about the emotional changes that have happened. How has your character’s life been changed? Has his or her appearance changed? Has their work life  been affected? Have your character’s personal relationships been more difficult because of what has happened?

Take your notes and turn them into sentences. You could imagine that the person is talking to a friend and trying to explain what has happened and why they are the way they are today. Maybe your character is apologising for something that has happened as a result of their past experiences and the effect it has had on them.

Write as much as you can then take a break. Read what you have written and edit it. You might want to add bits of detail, delete things you have written, change the order of events. You might want to think again about the causes and effects you have described and rewrite all of it.

This is quite a complex exercise as you are writing explanations for things that have happened in the past. You should probably aim for at least 500 words if not more. A thousand…?

When you have written your piece and are happy with what you have included and the order in which you have written it, have a look again but this time for issues of accuracy. Check for spelling, punctuation and grammar. In particular, check that your piece makes sense in terms of the tenses you have used.

Make sure you are happy for people to read your writing!

What next?

italian-dog-logo2.jpegIf you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

At This IS The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating.

Practitioners of the City

‘Practitioners of the City’

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

walkers are“Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking.” (Rebecca Solnit)


Think of somewhere you walk to often and write one single sentence about it.


The stimulus for this session is the activity above along with the questions below.

Of course, you can ignore questions you don’t like and you can add questions of your own that you like better.

* Obviously, some of you may use wheelchairs to get about. At The Safe House, we are sure that, if you are one of these people, you can still take part in this session. Please, let us know if you have any comments about this.

However you get about, the next time you do, you could think about these questions:

Where do you go? Why do you go there? Who do you go with? How do you feel as you walk there? Why do you feel this way? How often do you go there? How long does the journey take? Does the journey involve other forms of transport as well? What are the sights you expect to see when you take this walk? Do you take the quickest route? Do you always take the same route? Do you take a detour from the quickest route? Why? Are there parts of the walk that you particularly like? Are there parts of the walk that you dislike? Do you walk quickly? Or slowly? Do you usually have an animal with you? Why?

You could use any of these questions to stimulate your writing.

You, the writer, will decide.


This is about your world. Maybe, when you go on the walk you could remind yourself of the questions before you leave. Then, as you’re walking, you could make notes, either in your head, in a notebook, on your phone, whatever.

When you are ready and in a good location, choose just one of the questions and write a sentence in response to it. A single sentence.

It could begin:

‘I go there because …’

Or … ‘I go with my … and we …’

You might start like this:’ ‘I sometimes take the long way round so that …’

Or you could write: ‘I always see the … with its …’

Or … ‘I don’t like the bridge because …’

Or … ‘I always feel … because …’

You, the writer, will decide.

Word count and process

It’s just a sentence, so we’re probably not talking much more than 50 words. It could be really short.

When you have thought about your walk and noted answers to some of the questions, choose one and write a sentence as your answer.

Take a moment. Read what you have written. Think of the words you have used. Are there other words you could use to say what you want? Change words, add words.

Take another moment. Do the same again. Then check your sentence for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Does your sentence make sense?

Make sure you are happy for people to read your writing!

The length of the thinking process depends on the length of your walk, of course. And other things. The writing of the sentence should maybe take not more than around 10 minutes. You might do it more quickly.

underpassWhen you have written a sentence, of course, you could pick another question and repeat the process. That way your writing might build up into a longer piece. You could transform your writing by changing it from first person to third person. Write about your own walk from the point of view of an ‘external’ narrator.

What next?

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

4. With Expert Eyes

  1. (A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

The idea for this session came from Maria Popova’s Brainpickings review of a book by Alexandra Horowitz called ‘On Looking’.


Take a walk (real or virtual), and record sights, sounds, smells, from a particular point of view.


The stimulus for this session consists of two UK postcodes.

They are:

  • LE1 3PH
  • LE4 5AQ


Use the internet, probably Google Maps, and find the route from the first postcode to the second. Google Maps will give you two routes. Choose the second route, which takes you down Church Gate.

It looks something like this:route

Follow the route. If you live in the region, you could follow the route in real life. If not, you can still take part in the session by clicking the yellow man on Google maps. By doing this, you will be able to take the walk ‘virtually’!

Imagine, as you walk (or ‘walk’), that you are one of these:

Your dog

Your brother

Your mother

Your dad

A three-year-old girl

An eighty-three year old man

A builder

A bus driver

An architect

A skateboarder

A cyclist

A homeless person

A historian

A geologist

An entomologist (?)

A person in love (!)

A person who is lost.

01 church gateWhile you are travelling along the route, make notes, either in your mind, in a notebook or with a memo app on your phone about what, as that person (or animal), you might focus on during your journey. What would this person’s (or animal’s) attention be drawn to? What would be her, his or its point of view.

When you have finished your journey, take your notes and turn them into a narrative of the journey from the point of view you have been adopting.

You could begin by stating the day, or the time, or both:

‘It was a Wednesday morning, about eleven o’clock when I left the Clock Tower. I …’

Or you could write in the third person:

‘It was a Wednesday morning, about eleven o’clock when Florrie left the Clock Tower. She …’

You, the writer, will decide how your journey starts and ends.

Word count and process

03 st margarets way underpassWe might be aiming for a 500 word piece of writing here. Of course, it could be shorter or longer. You, the writer, will decide.

After the journey, find somewhere comfortable where you can read or recall the notes you made and also write the piece.

Try and keep writing for about five minutes and then take a short break. Then write for another five minutes and take a short break. Keep on until you are at your destination, or too exhausted to go on!

04 abbey parkHave a longer rest. Have something to eat, something to drink. Writing, like a walk through the streets, will take it out of you. You need rest and refreshment before you go on.

When you are able, spend some time re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising, re-reading, re-writing, deleting, revising again and again for as long as you can.

When you have done this and you are feeling ready, spend time proof-reading again for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and to check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it. Save what you have written.

What next?

Brian at VictoriaIf you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:

Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!