Think of your earliest memory…


Day 10: Think of your earliest memory...

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Michael Rosen

Hello! I'm Michael Rosen. I'm a writer and broadcaster - You might know me from my books for children which include "We're going on a Bear Hunt"and "Chocolate Cake". You might know me from the BBC Radio 4 programme that I host called "Word of Mouth".


Younger people seem to know me as "the meme guy", as some lads in America edited a poem of mine about hot potatoes into a meme of me saying the word "Nice" in my North London accent. I get stopped all over the place by lovely young people asking me to say "nice"!



What are your first memories? Can you tell someone what these are and ask them to write them down as you tell them? Can you write them down as if you're telling them to someone?


These first ways of talking are often the best ways of writing them down - but not always. You can, if you want to, use them, as a way of writing poems.


What is a poem?


A poem is a way of writing that makes what the writing memorable.


What does memorable mean? Easy to remember and worth remembering. Can you make your first memories sound memorable? One way to do it, is to not write in sentences!




Yes, as we're talking about first memories, these are often like fragments, impressions, blurry sensations. Sentences are not very good for expressing that.


You might just want to play with these fragments putting them down on the page, one below the other. If you can remember what someone is saying, put that down exactly as you remember it. You may remember what you said or thought. Put that down exactly as you remember it. (Don't forget to put these under each other on the page.)


What other ways do you know which can make writing memorable? Using repetition to give things a rhythm. Songs do this all the time. You can imitate the way songs repeat phrases and lines. (a phrase is two or more words)


Rhythm and rhyme are ways we make things memorable too. One way to help you with this is to think of a song you like and imitate how the song uses rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Think of Bob Dylan or Adele or Stormzy or anyone you like.


Another way to work on your first memories, is to pick a word or phrase from that first memory and play with it. Play with it? How?


Let's say if your first memory is sitting on a beach. And you remember the sand and the wind. You can play with those words and that phrase:


Sand and wind Wind and sand. Sand in the wind. Wind in the sand


There! It's that easy!


Another way to think about first memories is to look at an old photo. What can you see in the photo? Imagine yourself talking about the photo but instead, you're writing it. How do we talk about photos? We say things like 'There's Grandpa...' or 'Who's that sitting behind Nanny?' Use those kinds of expressions that we use in speech to talk about the photo.


One thing about memories that's really interesting is that you can write about them as if you are IN the scene from the past, or you can write about them from now, remembering what it was like. Or you can write about both. I call this 'writing about yourself as if you're looking at yourself in the swimming pool'. So, you can think of you IN the memory. You can write about it along the lines I've suggested. But mingled with it, or after it, you can write about, how you think about it now. Maybe your view of the other people in your memory has changed? Or your view of yourself has changed? Or you view of time has changed?



What does thinking of first memories make you think about how time passes and time has passed?


All these are suggestions, they're not rules, they're not telling you what to do or how to do it.


It may help you to look at how other people have written about early memories and see if that gets you going with your writing.



Let’s have a go at today’s challenge together!


You can join me on a live stream at 2pm on Wednesday 10th January.


Details will be sent to you and be posted online at


See you there!




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